Hartnett Holder & Co

Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder’s joint venture restaurant at the Lime Wood Hotel, Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst. I’ve been wanting to try this restaurant for some time so today we had lunch there ….. a disappointing lunch. I get the feeling that Angela Hartnett’s side of this partnership is the lending of her name rather than actually ever cooking in the kitchen or even deciding what’s on the menu. The enclosed Courtyard area for drinks is a pleasant area in which we had a Kir and a Campari Soda while looking at the lunchtime menu.

When we were seated at the dining table we were asked if we’d like Arancini (Sicilian Fried Risotto Balls) as a nibble before the starters. I assumed that these were being offered as an amuse-bouche so was surprised to see them listed on the final bill as an extra. A bit cheeky really since they’re not listed on the menu.

For starters we chose the Hay Baked Potato with Crab Mayonnaise and the Wild Mushroom Tart with Truffled Scrambled Egg. The Hay Baked Potato was ‘interesting’. A few very tiny new potatoes had been wrapped in hay which was in turn enclosed in a paste case. You cut the case open at the table and ate the potatoes with the crab mayonnaise as a dip. When the case was opened we were met with a smell of a stable, complete with horse. Not unpleasant but definitely wet hay with horse droppings in it! The potatoes on their own tasted good, the crab mayonnaise was good but put the two together and the crab dominated. The potato may just as well have been boiled for all it mattered after they were dipped in the crab mayo. The tart was the best dish of the whole meal because of the sliced black truffle on the scrambled egg which topped the tart.

For mains we chose the Lamb Belly with Pearl Barley and the Cod. Shortly after ordering my wife was told that the Cod was infact Hake and was she happy with that – no problem. What they didn’t say was that we’d been given yesterday’s menu in error and that the Lamb Belly was Pork Belly today. I only discovered that when the plate was put in front of me. The Pork Belly was surrounded by brown shrimps and chopped gherkins which were giving off very vinegary smells. This is not a combination I fancied at all and had I been shown today’s menu would certainly not have ordered it. The staff were very good about the mistake and exchanged the dish for the Hake. The Hake was perfectly pleasant and just the sort of thing I’d do at home. Not something I’d expect to pay a fairly high price for in a restaurant. The bowl contained a base of spinach topped with olive oil pureed potato and a steamed Hake fillet laid on top with a Salsa Verde Dressing.

Deserts were Walnut Cake and Ice-cream for my wife and the cheese selection for me. I was given three cheeses which despite requesting no goat and no sheep’s cheese included Pecorino. When I pointed out that Pecorino was a sheep’s cheese he argued that this one was made from cow’s milk! I gave up and just left it.

My wife and I both agreed that we much preferred lunch at The Terrace Restaurant in the Montagu Arms Hotel, Beaulieu, just a couple of miles further along the road.

Update. I’ve deleted my review of The Terrace Restaurant at the Montagu Arms Hotel now that the chef, Matthew Tomkinson, has left and gone to The Hambrough Hotel, Ventnor, IoW. Once we’ve tried Nathan Eades, the new chef’s menu, I’ll post on that.

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