The Glasshouse, Lyndhurst
At the Glasshouse Restaurant in Lyndhurst, they're playing games with your tastebuds and putting the fun back into food. Emma Caulton visited...
What fun! Perhaps inspired by the likes of Heston Blumenthal, The Glasshouse Restaurant's award-winning chef, Richard Turner, is playing games with flavours. He creates savoury ice creams, toys with texture combinations and juxtaposes old-fashioned favourites with tomorrow's tastes. It all brings an excitement back into eating out which is a little unexpected at traditional-looking New Forest Lodge Hotel (once an old hunting lodge) on the edge of Lyndhurst.
The Glasshouse restaurant was refurbished last spring and reopened this summer. Enter through the main entrance and the restaurant is to the right - with chocolate brown tablecloths over white underclothes, off-cream walls, crushed drapes, prints of Kew glasshouse and sparkly spotlights. To the left is a glass and wood staircase down to a cosy bar in the old cellars, with beams, brick walls, wood-panelling, deep knoll sofas and button-backed leather armchairs. This is where we started our evening with white wine spritzers, scoffing black olives and peppered almonds.
Back upstairs we were served New Forest bottled sparkling water, lovely warm crumbly brioche rolls and our palates were tempted by an amuse bouche of a cappuccino style summer vegetable soup served in a cute cup along with an intense mini taste of salsa.
Starters were just as flavour-packed. I had a delicious pressed rabbit with tangy puy lentils and pancetta served with a mustard seed ice cream and slow-cooked focaccia with tomato. Very clever, very tasty. Served like a work of art and tasted like one, too. Harriet tucked into seared scallops - each served on a butternut puree and topped with lime and coriander. They were aromatic and succulent.
We both chose fish to follow, and decided since the chef was into taking risks, we'd accompany our fish with a very soft Chilean Merlot. Harriet's cod was a big chunky fillet served on top of crushed, herbed potatoes alongside a razor clam, artichoke fricassee and fennel salad. Brilliant. My sea bass (from Lymington) was piled high on a hot onion tartlet and served with tomatoes as rich as a Mediterranean summer.
Desserts could not be resisted - old-fashioned berry trifle with a brilliantly unexpected basil tuille for Harriet. The friendly waitress recommended I try the chocolate fondant with avocado ice cream. The chocolate fondant - a steaming light chocolate sponge that burst open to reveal a gooey, rich chocolate sauce - was amazing and didn't need an accompaniment. The evening was rounded off with cappuccino and petit fours of fudge that tasted like sunshine and a dark, rich truffle.
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Overall? Delicious food, stylish and friendly service - deserves to be busy.
To start: King prawns, roasted peppers and rocket, sweet chilli and lime fondue; Twice-baked Dorset blue vinney and pistachio nut souffl� with pickled walnuts and sultanas; Port Soy smoked salmon, caper berries, crme fraiche and olive crackling.
To follow: Aged New Forest sirloin, caramelised shallots, tempura onions and reduced claret; Spiced lamb aubergine confit with summer vegetables and pimento marmalade; Ticklemore goat's cheese, spinach and coconut cream risotto cake with warm beetroot and hazelnut salad.
Sweets: White chocolate and summer berry trifle, clotted cream and basil tuille; Burley cider and apple pannacotta, poached pear cider sorbet; Three courses for �30.
The restaurant: The Glasshouse Restaurant.
Address: Pikes Hill, Lyndhurst SO43 7AS.
Tel: 02380 286129.