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Brockenhurst bakery Rosie Lea's to host 10th anniversary knees-up at Rosie Lea House in Lymington

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THE owner of an award-winning Brockenhurst bakery famous for its afternoon teas is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a party at her restaurant in Lymington.

Rachel Rabbets set up Rosie Lea’s in Brookley Road in 2011, and just eight months later was named Best Tea Room in Hampshire in the Hampshire Life Food & Drink Awards.

To celebrate the bakery’s milestone birthday, Rachel is hosting a celebratory night with cocktails and canapes, a mouth-watering five-course menu bursting with local produce and folk band The Trawlermen.

Rosie Lea's Rachel Rabbets
Rosie Lea's Rachel Rabbets

The party will be held at Rachel’s second premises, tea room and restaurant Rosie Lea House in Southampton Road, Lymington, where she has just launched a new menu put together by ex-Burley Manor chef Ben Johnson.

“It had always been a dream of mine to set up a tea room,” explained Rachel, who formerly worked in digital marketing. “I ran a market stall in Totton and Southampton selling cakes and takeaway cream teas, doing some catering on the side.

“It got the point where my baking was totally taking over the house, and we converted the garage where I worked for six months.”

Rachel recalled returning home from market one particularly cold October day and seeing an advert for her premises in Brockenhurst online.

“When I went to see it I instantly fell in love with it,” said Rachel. “That place is where my heart is.

“We won Best Customer Service in the Hampshire Life Food & Drink Awards in 2014, and that was entirely down to my bakery manager Steven Kemp – he has been with me since the start. I didn’t have a background in hospitality but he did and he has taught me a lot.”

Rosie Lea's bakery in Brockenhurst
Rosie Lea's bakery in Brockenhurst

Rachel bought what was formerly The Hobbler in January 2020, transforming the building and opening as Rosie Lea House – later than planned due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are still a tea room and serve the usual sandwiches and cakes but what a lot of people don’t know is that we open on Friday and Saturday evenings,” said Rachel, who has three-year-old twins.

“We have just employed a new chef, who is really passionate about using local, seasonal produce.”

The restaurant is supplied with sea bass by Hurst Point Fisheries, and chef Ben uses local farmers including The Farmers Butcher in Bramsaw and Lyburn Farm in Landford.

Dishes, some of which are cooked in the fire pit and smokery installed out the back, include New Forest ribeye and bearnaise, smoked celeriac fregola and Old Winchester, and pannage pork belly with apple and pickled kohlrabi – all served with a platter of either brassicas and smoked pepper romesco, roasted squash and hazlenut, or potato crumble and goat cheese.

Rosie Lea House
Rosie Lea House

“It is very important to people that they know where their food comes from, and they are willing to pay for that,” said Rachel.

“We have a chef who really respects the produce he uses and his food is totally phenomenal.”

Rosie Lea House, which also serves a Sunday roast with a huge sharing platter of sides, has a large, heated marquee and ice cream parlour in the garden and hosts weddings, baby showers and birthday parties.

To buy a ticket for the 10-year anniversary celebration, which costs £55 per head, email Rachel at enquiries@rosielea.co.uk, or call 01590 622908.

Full refunds will be given if the event is cancelled due to Covid.

Rosie Lea House opens between 9am and 5pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and from 9am-11pm on Friday and Saturday.

For information visit rosielea.co.uk/

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