Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Lymington - re-visited

The deck at the Haven Bar & Restaurant, with great views over to Yarmouth
A lot has changed, food wise, since we last visited this attractive Georgian Town, linked to Yarmouth by the constantly crossing White Link ferries. Making money from salt and dastardly press ganging in the past, Lymington is a popular stop off point for the hungry boater, and there is now more choice than ever, which hopefully keeps pricing competitive and quality up.

If you are lucky enough to get a spot on the Quay you have a gentle stroll into town, but perhaps a noisy night on the boat? Pulling in here on a week day I head straight to Greedodining.  Passing the Elderflower on the cobbles (haven’t tried it yet) then the King’s Head (good pub) but I’m after kedgeree and Rarebit fondue with brioche soldiers.
Greedo is a cosy, hygge sort of a café that offers breakfast all day. The coffee is great, served in dumpy blue mugs, with a bite of brownie alongside. The kedgeree is light and fragrant, flakes of smoked haddock, poached egg atop – and just £5 for goodness sake! As is the stack of pancakes. The crispy oak smoked bacon roll is just £4, and the table next to me are taking full advantage.  The burgers and buttermilk fried chicken looked popular as my late breakfast blended with the early lunch crowd. This place has a great vibe, with ex superyacht chef Jane Catchpole handling the tiller with some style. The drawback? 
They are not open at weekends – yet.

So, get here as soon as you can; these prices can’t last, and follow on Instagram for updates on pop-ups. We have our eye on their Fondue evening and are dusting off the salopettes….

Clean, contemporary interior at the Shipyard

Remember we visited Food 4 Sail last time we were here, opposite Force 4, parking in Berthon’s yard? This is now the Shipyard, with a wet fish counter to one-side and the restaurant to the right. Chefs Paul and Liam run a tidy galley here and are experienced pros.
I stumbled upon Ivan Coryn, ex Hood Sails and coffee morphed into the working lunch deal of £10, limited menu maybe, but Ivan’s warm chorizo Scotch Egg with runny yolk was top dog and my fish & chips were not bad. Some great cocktails served here and wine is provided by Solent Cellar, so they keep it local. Fresh fish is never going to be cheap (and neither should it be) but you will get reliable cooking and quality produce here, give it go.

The chorizo Scotch Egg - excellent flavour
BB Sharing platter of 1.1kg roast rib of beef, wild mushrooms, fries, salad & Béarnaise £70 
The Haven Bar & Restaurant has also seen some changes, all for the better in my opinion, with Helen Wood now managing the restaurant with surely the best view for miles? She has worked here for years, seeing different styles come and go, so she knows what her customers want. Visiting on a Wednesday, I watched Helen’s warm welcome and the tables fill up around me, with a good mix of locals, boat owners and autumn walkers. The menus have something for every taste, pocket and appetite; ranging from sandwiches 
(BB got to go homemade fish finger) all the way up to a whole baked fish to share.
Good to see moules on the kids’ menu – this sums up the thoughtfulness of the team here. 
I was having lunch with Jonathan Cook, so we could share starters and puddings; first up was the salt, pepper and soy squid, a glorious bowl of colour, the generous squid spirals sitting on cherry tomato, chili and rocket salad.
Crispy squid

... and the Indonesian fish curry - delicious!
Then onto the Indonesian Fish Curry for me, with Gurnard joining the prawns and mussels. Just the right amount of heat here; fresh, punchy spices in the creamy sauce, served with sticky rice; gorgeous. Jonathan had the ever popular fish and chips; a generous golden hunk of succulent cod, crushed peas with bacon and a good bowl of tartare.

The desserts are all handmade on site. The wonderful cakes are made by an ex member of staff who now cooks from home. We had the lemon tarte and it was the right choice. Citrus sharp with that lovely smooth custard only proper pastry chefs seem to achieve. Sticky toffee pudding would be a good second choice.  

Most popular here? It has to be the fish. Regulars love the fish to share – today it was Brill with capers, samphire and lemon butter - £40 for two. The excellent fish and chips comes in at £14.50 and you can have Moules Marinière as starter (£10.50) or main (£17.50) but there is plenty for the carnivore too – the burger and ribeye being firm favourites.

There is a very warm welcome here; pull up a stool at the long, sparkling bar, cosy up in the snug area by the fire or head to the open dining room with those panoramic views.

The Sunday brunch options, with live music every weekend, fill the place up, and the roast goes down a storm. The cocktail list is well chosen and local gin and tonics are served in those generous Spanish style goblets. We liked the pink peppercorn garnish with the local Dancing Cow gin and the wine list is simple but contains favourites Gruner Veltiner and a good Pinot Noir, but you can push the boat out with a fine Meursault or Gevrey-Chambertin if the mood takes you.

The pick-nick?
Solent Cellar is opposite M&S (along with Waitrose probably provide best deli options though there is a small indie in Angel Courtyard) a pleasant hike up the High Street. This independent wine store is an Aladdin’s Cave of treasure, with the guidance of the knowledgeable duo of Simon and Heather you will find the right bottle. They also do pop-ups and work with the local restaurants so keep an eye out. I can report that their collaboration with Sacred Gin last Friday was knock out.

Öskubux should be mentioned here, as we don’t have many Nordic cafes in the New Forest. Try the coffee and cinnamon buns if you get up to Solent Cellar.

The hike: The Haven is a great starting point for walks along the salt marshes. You can go as far as Keyhaven (and beyond on the Solent Way) but short cuts are available for the hungry.

www.havenrestaurant.co.uk 01590 679971 – open 7/7. Brunch & live music Sundays
www.greedodining.com 01590 671179 Open 9-5 Monday to Friday with special pop-ups.
www.the-shipyard.co.uk 01590 677705 – closed Mondays. Late nights Frid & Sat (23hrs)

www.thesolentcellar.co.uk 01590 674852 – open Mon-Sat 10-7pm. Closed Sundays

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Solent Cellar

Solent Cellar

Lymington's first indie wine store

Simon and Heather opened this independent wine shop in 2011 and have grown in strength, building both relationships with locals and wholesale partners in the town and beyond.
The attractive shop is situated at the top of the Georgian town of Lymington, just opposite M&S and near the new Indie Nordic café Öskubox.

They are now introducing a varied menu of pop ups and matched tastings, using Heather’s depth of knowledge gained during time spent at Ballymaloe and with ex Masterchef winner Mat Follas, when he ran the Wild Garlic in Beaminster.

The couple have many years’ experience in the wine industry and they have spent happy years travelling, learning and tasting as they go. Simon worked harvests in his gap year near Carcassone and in Australia – Coonawarra and Mclaren Vale - all funded by working at Majestic as a van driver. After graduating he returned to Majestic as a trainee manager. Heather and Simon met when he managed Dorchester and she arrived as his trainee.
The couple have many years’ experience in the wine industry, travelling, learning and tasting as they go.

The advantages of going to a small indie wine shop is that they really know their stock and can advise as they get to know your tastes; the monthly emails keep you up to date with new arrivals, food pairings and pop ups. I particularly enjoyed the Jura afternoon, trying three incrementally aged Comte cheeses, like Goldilocks, and spending a sunny Friday afternoon with friends in the Cellar’s courtyard garden, sampling chilled pale rosé from Chateau Maravenne, gorgeous Vin Bio, based at La Londe les Maures; the Grande Réserve is available in a magnum, which represents great value and looks lovely on the garden table.

Sign up for emails now and look out for their pop up with the Gourmet Grilled Cheese company – they make the best cheese sandwiches in this area – bar none! Local cheese, great sour dough, and charming husband and wife team, Emma and Andy

Solent Cellar are consistently in Harpers 50 Best Independent Wine Shops in the UK and I recommend a visit soon

Open Mon - Sat 10am - 7pm

40 St Thomas Street
Lymington, SO41 9ND
01590 674852