I love reading restaurant reviews. I always wonder how you get that job. You have to able to write, but what gives anyone the right to say what tastes good or not? One man's caviar is another man's gruel.
Anyway, I've decided to give it a go, so read on for my review of The Turfcutters Arms, East Boldre, Hampshire.
A Meaty Cut Above
On entering a drinking and eating den, it's never pleasing to see empty tables. However, on closer inspection, it is perfectly fine when you realise they are all pre-booked and those patrons are just a couple of minutes behind you from piling in. The Turfcutters Arms sits on the main road in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it village in the heart of the New Forest, Hampshire. It is a traditional English pub covered in black and white photos of the area, old tankards and lamps, fishing rods, antlers and, while on September 2nd there was no need for a roaring fire, the warmth of the locals' laughter was the perfect welcome.
Being Sunday lunchtime, the specials board was packed with roasts. Just what was needed on a wet afternoon. Boring I know, but M and I were both after some meat and two veg. I also fancied some soup and today's homemade bubbling pot was tomato so I ordered that to start.
A generous helping was delivered and I had to remind myself we were in the country. No London thimble portions here. Great. The soup wasn't smooth which made me happy - I am always suspicious of soups smooth as you get from a tin. It came already topped with black pepper and basil. The tomato was flavoured with garlic, which I love and it wasn't too oily. I like my soup to stick around the chunks of bread I dip in it and hold on. The bread wasn't homemade, but it was warm, which brought another "Ahh" from my lips.
Then came the roast dinners. M ordered roast pork and I chose roast beef. M being Argentine and me having lived there for some years, we are both used to great slabs of meat on our plate. This was heaven. Though why they served it in a swimming pool of gravy on the plate I have no idea. The gravy needs to go last, and just like soup, not be so liquidy. Maybe I should have asked for it on the side, but seriously, who plates up a roast starting with the gravy?
The pork was pale; it looked too pale until I tried its tenderness which melted in my mouth. It was a pig explosion, so subtle only I could hear it. My beef was also excellent, cut into a huge round chunk and pink in the middle. It tasted of meat, which isn't a strange description when you consider some of the meat you can pick up in the supermarket these days.
The wonder of the meat meant the vegetables were a measly side show unfortunately and nothing to write home about. The crackling was perfect, though as always, there wasn't enough. The potatoes were not cripsy enough for my liking, but this could have been due to the swimming pool gravy effect they'd been put through by the time I got to them. All this aside, however, we polished off the lot and sat back, contented and bellies full.
The Turfcutters Arms is not trying to be anything other than it is; a traditional country English pub. It's a warm, relaxing space with friendly staff; it is not over stylised nor does it try too hard and it keeps its menu in the realm of good pub grub. The food is well cooked, fancy free and the meat provider is obviously excellent.
Just put the gravy on the side.
You can find out more about the Turfcutters Arms here: http://www.the-turfcutters-new-forest.co.uk/