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Review & competition: The Monkey Brewhouse, Lymington

DESPITE previously attending a number of live music nights at the Monkey Brewhouse, I’d never eaten at the cosy 18th century Lymington pub, known for excellent food, craft beers and a friendly welcome.

Run by husband-and-wife team Will and Lizzie Bradshaw since 2019, the brewpub has built a solid reputation delivering classic British dishes with an imaginative twist, award-winning Sunday roasts, and an ever-evolving special menu featuring seafood and meat specials.

Visiting midweek in February, I was surprised to find only a couple of spaces in the car park and the cosy venue bustling with a mix of customers, from those just enjoying a drink to dining groups and couples.

The light and bright dining area features high ceilings and a nautical blue and grey colour scheme, blending a range of tables and comfy fireside chairs.

Will and Lizzie Bradshaw
Will and Lizzie Bradshaw

were greeted warmly and shown to a table where a quick scan of the menu revealed a delicious range of dishes, many inspired by local ingredients and seasonal produce.

As well as brewing a popular range of in-house beers, IPAs and lagers, the Brewhouse also serves guest lagers and ciders, and an extensive drinks menu featuring cocktails, botanical gins and almost a dozen whiskeys. A wide range of wines are also available.

Feeling hungry as we watched other diners’ delicious-looking meals being delivered to their tables, my grown-up daughter and I pondered the various options for starters and light bites.

Bloody Mary prawn cocktail
Bloody Mary prawn cocktail

Opting to start with a bloody Mary prawn cocktail with warm sourdough toast, the quintessentially British starter was served to perfection, combining crispy cucumber and fresh cherry tomato with a very generous serving of bite-sized shrimps and juicy shell-on king prawns.

The Marie Rose sauce delivered just the right kick and was beautifully garnished with fresh chives, paprika, a lemon wedge and pea shoots.

The Monkey Brewhouse is an 18th century pub
The Monkey Brewhouse is an 18th century pub

My daughter equally enjoyed her starter of crispy calamari with garlic aioli, noting that the tender calamari bites were wonderfully crispy outside and soft inside, in a perfectly seasoned batter.

Garnished with lemon wedges and pea shoots, the dish was presented with care to ensure it looked as good as it tasted.

With over a dozen wines available by the glass, I indulged in a glass of smooth Pablo Y Walter 2021 Malbec and my daughter opted for a glass of Ancora Pinot Grigo Rose which she described as fresh and fruity.

Commenting that it was the nicest rose she had tried, our attentive server offered her a glass of Diamarine Coteaux Varois, which surpassed the Ancora to become her new favourite!

Turning to the main courses, I was torn between the pan-fried seabass fillet served on spring veg with a mussel and potato broth (£19.50) and the duck confit with boulangere potatoes, braised red cabbage and a port and shallot sauce.

Duck and braised red carriage with a shallot and port sauce
Duck and braised red carriage with a shallot and port sauce

On the advice of our server, I settled on the duck which proved to be an excellent choice – delivering a satisfying blend of contrasting flavours and texture.

The juicy duck was perfectly complemented by the bed of sweet red cabbage and rich layered potato accompaniment.

My daughter opted for the 8oz rump steak which she confirmed was cooked to perfection, with a rich creamy peppercorn sauce.

A sizeable helping of fluffy chunky chips, sautéed onions and a huge Portobello mushroom completed the dish.

After finishing off two delicious courses, expectations were high for the pudding and if I’d had room I would have certainly opted for the cheese board with chutney and crackers.

However, as we were both feeling pretty full we opted to share a sweet treat in the form of a salted caramel and hazelnut brownie with chocolate pouring sauce and clotted cream ice cream.

It was again beautifully presented with a garnish of mint leaves and blueberries, and the gooey, rich dessert tasted as good as it looked.

With a welcoming and cosy atmosphere, friendly and attentive staff, a huge variety of drinks and tasty food menu featuring local ingredients, the Monkey Brewhouse ticked all the boxes for a fabulous Thursday night treat.

  • For the chance to win a three-course meal for two, plus wine and a minikeg of beer, pick up this week's A&T – out now – and turn to page 27

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