Situated in the New Forest National Park The Bell Inn an 18th century coaching is surrounded by natures finest. This historic Hotel has been in the same family since 1782 and recently undergone some stylish updates. A week or so ago I went to have a look for myself, I admit to never having been to The Bell before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, the renovations have been carefully thought out still retaining a country vibe but with a really modern twist.
Having such strong connections with the New Forest the chef here supports the local community by buying meat, fruit and vegetables locally and sourcing the fish from the coast nearby. The newly appointed chef Mark Young adapts his menu to what is available locally and has in fact added a map of the area to the back of the menu which made an interesting talking point whilst we decided what to eat.
When the food arrived I was particularly impressed with the presentation especially the way the Fluffet’s Farm duck egg had been balanced on top of a pulled pork hash and then finished with a dressing of aged balsamic. There is something about a bright yellow fried egg that gets me excited, probably the anticipation of the yolk spilling out (it wasn’t even my starter).
My starter was equally as delicious and so pretty too. Smoked haddock croquettes, little cubes of mango and just the right amount of chilli to give it kick.
The main courses that followed were again beautifully presented mine being Hampshire lamb slow cooked shoulder, crispy belly, and roast loin accompanied by dauphinois potato, summer vegetables, mint jus. The combination of the different textures on the lamb was absolutely brilliant and I told the chef that when we chatted afterwards. Interesting to note that if you choose this dish £1 donation will be given to the New Forest Trust which again show the importance and passion the owners have for the a area.
I find it hard to tear my husband away from steak on any menu and that was his choice again today. It was a 10z prime Hampshire steak served with hand cut chips, watercress, grilled tomato and a creamy peppercorn sauce. Apparently this was beautifully cooked and very soon became history on the plate.
Photos of our desserts follow below and show the level of detail put into every dish. I absolutely loved the little pannacotta served in a milk churn it was beautifully light and wobbled on the spoon on the way to your mouth. The little trio of lemon based desserts consisted of lemon drizzle cake, posset and a sorbet made with a local (Conker) gin always going to be a hit with me.
Aside from the fantastic food The Bell Inn is perfectly positioned for a stay in the New Forest having 28 rooms with five different categories to choose from and it even accommodates dogs in some of the ground floor rooms. The Bell also owns two golf courses situated right by the hotel one of them being the oldest course in Hampshire dating right back to the late 1800’s if that’s your thing?
I enjoyed our visit so much I took my parents there on Sunday, my brother has a young baby and it was great to see how accommodating and family friendly they are – another big plus in my book. Several events are advertised including a garden party on bank holiday Monday so be sure to check their website to see what’s happening you won’t be disappointed!
The Bell Inn
|Invited by PR company?||Yes|
|Guest of chef/restaurant/owner?||No|
|Restaurant/outlet knew ahead we were bloggers?||Yes|
|Was the meal complimentary from the restaurant?||Yes|
|Any complimentary items provided by restaurant/outlet?||No|