Review: Gun Inn at Keyhaven combines homely vibes with top-notch food
Since reopening in 2022 following a major refurbishment, The Gun Inn at Keyhaven has become a focal point of its coastal community hosting live music nights, quizzes and community events.
Always a popular choice with walkers and tourists, the picturesque 17th century pub has also built a solid following of locals who come for the warm welcome, extensive range of local beers, and the superb food served up by head chef Mark Youngs and his talented team.
Seasonal and locally sourced food is top of the agenda, with a menu that showcases classic British dishes with an imaginative twist; as well as a vast collection of Gun shots – created to be enjoyed as starters’, sharers or sides.
We visited on a balmy Thursday evening when the pub was bustling with a collection of local musicians, garden drinkers and diners.
Greeted warmly by the staff and shown to our cosy table, a quick scan of the menu revealed an array of options, from wood-fired meats and Japanese-inspired poke bowls to fresh local fish dishes and seasonal salads.
Although the pub was extensively refurbished prior to its reopening, original features were retained and enhanced, so it still feels very much like a 17th-century inn, with exposed brickwork, old beams, wood panelling floor and antique furniture.
My partner and I pondered the ‘Gun Shots’ menu – a selection of smaller dishes which can be enjoyed as starters/sides or light bites.
The range is broken down into two categories – field, foraged, farmed, and feathers, furs and fins (meats and fish); and spuds, grains and pulses. Diners can mix and match to create a bespoke meal.
With so many options available making a decision wasn’t easy, but we eventually opted for sticky maple glazed pork belly bites (£6.50) and a pulled chicken bao bun (£6).
A cool glass of Bella Modella Pinot Grigio Rose, with its sweet and fruity notes, was the perfect accompaniment.
My husband enjoyed a pint of Sea Wall Ale, which was he said was hoppy and light – and perfect for a warm summer evening.
Our starters arrived promptly and were a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds! The pork belly bites were incredible – sweet, sticky and packed with flavour, they were cooked to perfection.
The steamed chicken bao bun was equally delightful, delivering amazing oriental flavours using top locally sourced ingredients. The warm and fluffy bun was bursting with tender shredded chicken, marinated in a sweet chilli and black pepper sauce and served with Asian slaw.
Outdoor cooking is big business at The Gun, particularly in the summer months when a number of the meat dishes are cooked on a massive grill. Spotting fillet steak on the specials menu, my husband didn’t hesitate with his choice of main course.
It was served with rich bearnaise sauce, skinny fries, peppery watercress and dehydrated onion bites.
He reported that his steak was perfectly cooked and seasoned, with the light crispy onions bringing a delicate, sweet flavour and a great crunchy texture to the dish.
Although I was tempted by the excellent range of local fresh fish including Whole Milford Black Bream, the weather was still so warm I decided on a salad bowl featuring hot smoked chalk stream trout.
Served on a bed of watercress and crunchy leaves, the meal featured buttery Jersey Royal potatoes and toasted almonds, tossed in a light horseradish and lemon crème fresh dressing.
Arriving in a huge bowl, the colourful dish came with a generous helping of warm trout, with a mild flavour that was perfectly paired with the tangy dressing.
After polishing off our main courses, we opted to take a short break before turning to the dessert menu, which enabled us to enjoy the ambience of the picturesque pub garden, boosting a gorgeous wildflower meadow, a large covered seating area, and a popular garden bar.
Next up was the local strawberries and cream panna cotta, which as well as being temptingly sweet and light, had the perfect conistency and texture.
My husband opted for the rhubarb crumble, which married the lovely flavour combinations of the tartness of the fruit, the sweet crunchy topping and the creamy vanilla ice cream. He also loved the notes of warm ginger coming through.
With its village pub vibes, friendly and attentive staff, and tasty and imaginative local food, The Gun ticks all the boxes and has definitely become a much-loved part of Keyhaven’s coastal community.
Such was my enjoyment, I’ve already been back several times to sample a few more treats from the delicious Gun Shots range!
To be in with a chance to win a meal for four worth £300 at the Gun Inn pick up the latest A&T and turn to page 24.