Thursday, 21 April 2011

REVIEW: The Kings Arms, Lockerley, Hampshire

Although it opened last Christmas, The Kings Arms at Lockerley has pretty much kept itself beneath the radar until now. It doesn’t even have a website, although I’m assured that it will do in the very near future.
Nestling in a beautiful village close to the Test Valley, the pub once suffered from a bad reputation because of a few unsavoury locals and eventually closed down.
The ambitious new owners have breathed new life into the only pub in the village and many of the locals are now returning to the place after avoiding it for more than a decade.
A detached redbrick pub with a trickling stream running through the large garden, it is a homely sort of place which feels more pub than restaurant. A good thing.
Inside, the pub is tastefully decorated with walls of local art, old wine bottles, antiques and baskets of dried lavender. There is an upright piano near the door, which may come in handy if any of the rock legends living nearby pop in for a pint of Ringwood ale.
Old pictures of country pursuits remind visitors of its rural location, although its close proximity to Romsey and its railway station makes it accessible for those without a car.
Chef Tim Futter’s food is unpretentious and the menu is appealing, not to mention sensibly priced.
There is a good use of local ingredients and a strong sense of seasonality, both of which were evident in a well composed starter of English asparagus paired with champ potato and local Winchester cheese (£5.95).
Grilled hake with a nicoise salad and aioli (£13.95) was an excellent lunchtime choice for such a warm day. The fish was eye-poppingly fresh and precisely cooked, and topped with an unadvertised bread crumbed Scotch egg with an impressively runny yolk. The sweetness of the roasted red peppers and salty green olives worked well with the fish.
To finish, a creamy slice of iced coffee parfait with excellent honeycomb (£5.75) displayed a delicate hand.
There is a sense that The Kings Arms is only just hitting its stride and there are big plans for a kitchen garden, chickens and private dining ‘pods’ (small eco-friendly cabins), as well as an outside kitchen.

The Kings Arms, Romsey Road, Lockerley, Hampshire, SO51 0JF. Tel: 01794 340332.

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