INSPIRED by subtle Mediterranean influences, Burley Manor has placed local producers at the very core of its latest dining concept – the 15-mile menu.
The picturesque Grade II listed hotel already commands something of a reputation among local foodies for its beautifully put-together tapas dishes prepared using wood-fired ovens.
Now the kitchen team, led by executive head chef Ben Johnson, have taken the passion and commitment to New Forest produce and launched a new lunchtime menu championing ingredients sourced from within 15 miles of the hotel.
The set menu – which is available Monday to Saturday from noon to 2.30pm – costs £20 for two or £25 for three courses and includes a complimentary cocktail.
Having previously dined at Burley Manor in the evening, I was more than happy to step forward for a lunchtime visit to find out more about how the Mediterranean influence is finding its place in the New Forest.
Combining bold olive green shades with period features and open fireplaces– the fusion of British and Mediterranean begins in the hotel’s beautifully quirky dining room which overlooks the well-manicured grounds.
After being shown to our spacious table, our friendly waitress quickly returned with a bottle of sparkling water and a wine list as well as two complimentary Burley Orchard cocktails.
Turning to the menu starters I chose a dish of olive oil-poached chalk stream trout rillettes served with a bed of watercress.
Sourced from sustainable farms on the rivers Test and Itchen, the delicious lightly poached trout was beautifully complemented by a dill and preserved-lemon dressing and served on crispy ciabatta bread.
For his starter my husband chose a harissa-spiced Romsey lamb borek served with halloumi, mint and almonds, which he described as unusual but wonderful. The light filo pastry had the perfect bite and the pulled lamb was lightly seasoned with Middle Eastern spices.
A vegetarian option of shawarma-spiced heritage carrots with rosary ash goats’ cheese, produced near Salisbury, was also featured in the choice of starters.
Moving on to the main courses, I was very tempted by the New Forest wild mushroom fregola served with old Winchester cheese, but eventually settled on the sumac-braised pork belly served on with a fricassee of local vegetables.
The dish was incredible – the meat was perfectly cooked to melt in the mouth and the vegetable medley of miniature leeks, carrots and peas in a light jus was wonderful. A side of roasted new potatoes with fresh parsley, shallots and black olives complemented the dish perfectly.
The pork and the lamb for the borek starter are supplied by Swallowfields Farm near Romsey, run by a fourth-generation farmer who produces meat from animals grazed on the New Forest.
For his main course my husband chose the whole-grilled Solent plaice topped with brown crab butter caught from shores of Lymington and the surrounding coastline by S&J Shellfish.
His plaice was lightly cooked to preserve its delicate flavour and served with vibrant stalks of marsh samphire.
To finish up, I enjoyed a wonderful Ipley heather honey and semolina cake with New Forest clotted cream ice cream. Served with a colourful topping of edible flowers and a chunks of honeycomb, the dish looked almost as wonderful as it tasted.
Meanwhile, my husband picked out the local cheese board with crackers, celery, grapes and quince jelly which included cheeses from Lyburn Farm, near Landford, and rosary ash goats’ cheese.
The 15-mile menu at Burley Manor, off Ringwood Road, Burley, is £20 per person for two courses and £25 per person for three courses. For the chance to win a three-course meal for two, see this week’s food and drink competition.
To find out more see www.burleymanor.com.