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Review: Highstreet Kitchen in Lymington

LYMINGTON’S Highstreet Kitchen promises “honest and uncomplicated, but perfectly crafted dishes” – and it certainly delivers.

The Grade II listed venue offers chic yet cosy surroundings, and one look at its constantly rotating menu conveys a dedication to homely, seasonal and high quality food.

Having grudgingly given up pining for al fresco dining in the sun, on a chilly Friday evening I was ready to embrace winter and my cravings for hearty, warming comfort food.

At the Highstreet Kitchen there are plentiful dishes to chose from.

Highstreet Kitchen offers chic yet cosy surroundings
Highstreet Kitchen offers chic yet cosy surroundings

Sipping a glass of Prosecco, I studied the menu and had no hesitation in ordering the celeriac soup with crusty sourdough.

This velvety smooth soup, bursting with the sweet, nutty, delicate flavours of this humble, seriously unerrated vegetable is guaranteed to warm the cockles.

My friend opted for butternut squash, polenta, poached pear and truffle vinaigrette which, with its balance of sweet and earthy flavours, she enjoyed immensely.

The crispy, neutral-tasting polenta bites did well to offset the sweet, fudgy flesh of the squash.

Cottage pie
Cottage pie

Having ordered wine from an extensive list, designed with sustainability in mind, next up were our mains.

Mine was the Beechwood Farm Dexter cottage pie. The full-bodied flavour of the beef, renowned for its quality and taste, elevated this simple meal, served with roasted carrots and vibrant cavolo nero.

My only small criticism would be that the mash, delicious as it was in its creaminess, was slightly sloppy and had melted into the gravy beneath.

But all-in-all, it was a very tasty, upgraded version of a traditional British favourite.

Having chosen the pumpkin and feta risotto with roasted pumpkin seeds and walnuts, my friend was full of praise for her next colourful course.

While the food combinations didn’t have the trappings of a traditional risotto, the ingredients worked perfectly together to create a simple, elegant dish.

The cheese added a lovely tang and saltiness to the sweet, earthy tones of the pumpkin, and the orange pops of colour made a feast for the eyes.

Pumpkin and goat cheese risotto
Pumpkin and goat cheese risotto

With room – just about – for dessert, we were spared the difficulty of choosing one – to our pleasant surprise a collection of indulgent treats arrived at our table, making us the envy of the whole restaurant.

The passionfruit souffle, served with a ball of luxurious mango sorbet, was the standout ending to the meal for me with its flawless texture and sweet, acidic punch.

Another British classic, the treacle tart, which came with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, had that sublime combination of buttery, crispy pastry and fantastically sweet chewy

filling, caramelised to perfection.

The Cox’s apple crumble with hazelnuts, which my friend liked the most, was another crowd pleaser and I would say more delicious than the classic recipe.

It had less sugar and much more texture, with extra crunch and butteriness from the hazelnuts.

As well as the food, what impressed me most that evening was the way owner Gavin Barnes made a big effort to engage with customers and make them feel special.

Gavin Barnes
Gavin Barnes

The Highstreet Kitchen is the realisation of a career-long dream for Gavin, a former head chef at Hotel TerraVina in Netley Marsh and semi-finalist in MasterChef: The Professionals in 2015.

Gavin has brought much of the team he worked with at the hotel, which at the time was run by world famous French sommelier Gerard Basset and his wife Nina.

While no one could doubt his passion, Gavin has a straightforward, down-to-earth approach to food and hospitality that is endearing, and his chats and banter with diners adds to the relaxed, informal feel of the place.

The Highstreet Kitchen, at 68 High Street, opens Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, and on Sundays for lunch between midday and 2pm.

A festive menu was launched last week and will run alongside the normal menu.

Visit www.thehighstreetkitchen.co.uk

  • To win a meal for two at Highstreet Kitchen pick up the latest A&T and turn to page 25

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