Samphire, Lymington, Hampshire: ‘An eruption in a Cath Kidston outlet’ | Grace Dent on restaurants

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Samphire is a cacophony of daring, floral wallpapers, Kia-Ora-orange chairs, sage banquettes, fuchsia scatter cushions and accent lamps. The inside designers of the newly renovated Stanwell House boutique resort in Lymington, Hampshire, had been very courageous, and have give you a form of “eruption in a Cath Kidston outlet” vibe, which I relatively beloved, not least as a result of I usually bemoan eating places which can be decked out in risk-free shades of beige, tapioca and silt, as if the administration had been neither committing to a theme, nor assured of staying open for very lengthy in any respect. There’s none of that meekness at Samphire, although. From the off, the place screams: “We’re one of many poshest eating places within the New Forest, however we’re not a type of aloof, Scandi, trial-by-dinner spots the place it’s a must to fake that reside ants and uncooked duck offal are scrumptious. No, we’re simply doing fish and potatoes and the like. Aunty Bertha will likely be fully secure right here.”

Stanwell Home’s refurbishment has resulted in three completely different eating choices. There’s additionally the Salt Bar and the Orangery, which don’t take themselves too significantly and had been full of visitors on the Saturday I visited, all of them consuming membership sandwiches, brisket and bone-marrow burgers, meze-style sharing boards and plates of doughnuts with espresso espuma for dipping. In the meantime, Samphire, the fancier providing, which serves red-deer carpaccio, Shetland scallops and Lymington picked crab, was abandoned. Or no less than it was till we arrived; later, one other couple arrived on a date, each phrase of whose dialog I might hear from six tables away (Sir, you had been “friend-zoned” weeks in the past; it was as unmissable as Samphire’s bottle-green, mock-Vaudeville wall lamps – sorry).

‘Executed with aplomb and comes in a guzzle-worthy sauce’: The hand-dived shetland scallops at Samphire in Lymington.
‘Executed with aplomb and is available in a guzzle-worthy sauce’: Samphire’s hand-dived Shetland scallop starter.

Samphire could battle to draw daytime diners as a result of it feels instinctively far more formal and fussy than its counterparts. In fact, although, the costs in all three choices are roughly the identical. That bar menu brisket burger is all of £18, whereas the hen kiev with wilted greens, parsley emulsion and dauphine potatoes is £22. In the meantime, within the posh bit that’s Samphire, peppered fillet and stomach of pork with pineapple puree and cavolo nero is £26, though you’d in all probability want a facet of triple-cooked chips with that, which is an additional £5.

By and huge, all the pieces at Stanwell is relatively costly wherever you perch your backside, however no less than at Samphire you’ll be able to eat your red-shrimp risotto with tomato pearls within the gentle from the beautiful courtyard and the service entails a tad extra tugging of the forelock. The risotto was attractive, by the way in which. No risotto, in 2023, might be actually groundbreaking, as a result of it’s merely damp rice with aspirations, however this was a butterscotch-coloured pool of loveliness with 4 giant prawns atop a scattering of sea herbs.

The red shrimp risotto served at Samphire in Lymington.
The ‘attractive’ purple shrimp risotto served at Samphire in Lymington.

Equally, within the present upmarket-dining panorama, Samphire’s scallops in coriander oil and curry emulsion are nothing shocking, but they had been executed with aplomb and got here in a guzzle-worthy sauce. Will I ever come again right here? No. It’s fairly and perfunctory. Am I glad it exists, and that different individuals can take pleasure in it? Sure. That mentioned, don’t order the chalk stream trout “pastrami”, as a result of it’s trout encrusted in sunflower seeds and served on a big, brown smear. I shall sooner or later be awarded a damehood for companies to ridding the British eating scene of all unpleasant plate smears. Thank me later.

The catch of the day was a sole with its face and backbone intact, but it surely was superbly judged, with a honey-brown floor and the flakes simply so, and armed with béarnaise sauce, confit garlic and lemon samphire. One other fundamental of sea bass with leeks, celery and celeriac crumble was, at finest, inoffensive. There may be expert, considered cooking occurring right here, however there are additionally lots of barely old-hat concepts delivered in an immediately forgettable approach.

Samphire’s dark chocolate and gingerbread marquise.
Samphire’s darkish chocolate and gingerbread marquise.

The whole lot candy that I noticed regarded scrumptious, from the Orangery’s fairly afternoon tea towers with their orange and cranberry scones, finger sandwiches and salted caramel choux buns to the darkish chocolate and gingerbread marquise I tore by means of, lapping up the spiced rum creme fraiche. There’s additionally a honey cake with honey curd, honey ice-cream and milk panna cotta that they name, relatively adorably, “To the Land of Milk and Honey”.

This can be a boutique resort that doesn’t skimp on the fashionable chintz, and the place you might tear by means of the money with out ever being overwhelmed with emotion over the meals or the service. Even so, you’d be deeply grateful to be right here, as a result of the gentle furnishings are so richly vibrant and, in winter 2023, all the pieces outdoors its home windows is so completely miserable.

Sure, on stability, I’d relatively be inside Samphire than out, consuming the honey cake, having fun with the pleasantness and ready for higher days.

  • Samphire Stanwell Home, 14-15 Excessive Avenue, Lymington, Hampshire, 01590 677123. Open all week, lunch noon-2pm (3pm Solar), dinner 6-9pm. About £50 a head à la carte; £75 eight-course tasting menu, each plus drinks and repair

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