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Mackerel, presented artfully, at The Elderflower Restaurant in Lymington, just outside the New Forest
The Elderflower [Official Photo]

Where to Eat in the New Forest

The National Park that spans Hampshire and southeast Wiltshire — and its surrounds — is a fecund home to some thrilling restaurants

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Mackerel, presented artfully, at The Elderflower Restaurant in Lymington, just outside the New Forest
| The Elderflower [Official Photo]

Wild Thelwellian ponies, roaming swine, ancient woodland ... at times, it’s easy to imagine the New Forest in a Medieval time warp. Founded by William the Conqueror, its shady oak and beech canopies spread out in a sea of green, the only interruption an occasional thatched cottage. Its leafy floor hosts an abundance of mushrooms, while its streams fizz with trout. To top it off, those porkers “pannage” on acorns, an almost obsolete practice, akin to producing Jabugo’s pata negra (jamon iberico.) Here’s where from the local larder.

How to get there: London Waterloo to Brockenhurst is one hour, 32 minutes by train. It’s approximately 85 miles and just over two hours by car.

thenewforest.co.uk

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The Greyhound on the Test

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Just yonder from the forest is the village of Stockbridge. Its rudely pretty high street is awash with food gaffs, but the most cherished is Greyhound on the Test. Stockbridge wild mushrooms on toast with garlic and sage, Broughton buffalo carpaccio, and the watercress (no doubt from nearby watercress-mecca, Alresford) with Old Winchester cheese and almond salad, are just a few winners from Chris Heather’s modern British repertoire.

Shrimp pilaf at the Greyhound on the Test near the New Forest
Shrimp pilaf at the Greyhound on the Test
David Griffen/for Greyhound on the Test

The Black Rat Restaurant

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Just outside the forest is Winchester, the ancient capital of England. There you’ll find the Black Rat. Don’t be turned off by the rodent theme. Jon Marsden Jones spins the stove with the kind of vim and vigour one might hope from someone in charge of a Michelin-starred kitchen. He’s well loved for his decadent fix of duck-fat brioche with game terrine, liver, and red currant. And his range is evident in delicate wild salmon, which might be paired with seaweed and local greens, pureed and blanched, or a more fortifying spiced beef short rib, with burrata, harissa, tomatoes, and chimichurri.

The Royal Oak

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This freehouse in Fritham, dating to the 1600s, has a diminutive menu — ploughman’s and pork pies are staples. Handsome wedges of cheeses from the excellent Lyburn Farm a few miles away, local ham, and punchy pickles are the formula here for a trusty lunch. Appropriately, it’s all delivered through a low-slung bar in the thatched cottage.

Lime Wood

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With its celeb-speckled spa, haute interior, and the surrounding fecund forest nestling in at every opportunity, Lime Wood Hotel is a sybaritic affair. In keeping, its restaurant is “led” by chef-legend Angela Hartnett, and Luke Holder. Small plates hop off the pass all day. Cue vitello tonnato and the ubiquitous-menu-favourite smoked cod’s roe. A la carte is all polenta agnolotti with truffle, artichoke and dried tomato, and Hampshire saddleback pork.

Polenta agnolotti, truffle, artichoke, and dried tomato at Lime Wood in the New Forest
Polenta agnolotti, truffle, artichoke, and dried tomato at Lime Wood
Lime Wood [Official Photo]

The Pig

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Established in 2011 by hotel hotshot Robin Hutson, The Pig in Brockenhurst, was an immediate hit for its menu, the ingredients for which were all sourced from within 25 miles of the restaurant. Today, the forest’s produce remains a focal point for chef James Golding, who plucks leaves from the garden and smokes local hog and trout whenever he can. The restaurant’s menu is split under headers like “piggy bits,” “forest bits,” “mostly picked this morning.” Hampshire wood pigeon, cauliflower cheese with Isle of wight blue, and zero mile mushroom risotto are all comforting stars of the show.

The Pig
The Pig [Official Photo]

The Terrace Restaurant

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At The Terrace in Beaulieu, folks rave about chef Matthew Tomkinson’s signature: Sweet voluptuous Scottish scallops come with a creamy cauliflower puree and nudges of coriander and cumin. For those prone to menu-envy, best get the tasting menu, which includes stunning desserts like chilled New Forest strawberry consommé with lemon verbena sorbet and almond tuile.

Chef Matthew Tomkinson’s chilled New Forest strawberry consommé with lemon verbena sorbet and almond tuile
The Terrace Restaurant [Official Photo]

The Elderflower Restaurant

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When former Chewton Glen chef Andrew Du Bourg set up his solo venture in 2013, it made waves among denizens. His CV includes stints at Michelin-starred The Goring and Club Gascon in London, so classic cooking is the mainstay. Currently, most popular is the theatrical dessert called ‘Close, But No Cigar’, a heady chocolate-coffee-whisky combo. Though, keep a snout out for more rustic options like home-cured ham, cured sea trout, and suckling pig.

The Elderflower Restaurant in Lymington
The Elderflower Restaurant [Official Photo]

The Dining Room at Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa

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A visit to Chewton Glen in New Milton elicits mixed responses. It’s posh, in a word. Nevertheless, its dowdy-luxe vibe attracts a crowd of all generations. There’s a new cookery school, The Kitchen, where Tom Kitchin and other famous names from around the British Isles make cameos. The Dining Room is run by Luke Matthews, a champion of seafood and a dab hand with local vegetables. It’s also worth checking out the spa and treehouses.

Asparagus at Chewton Glen
The Dining Room at Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa [Official Photo]

The Larder House

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Yes, this is 10 miles beyond the forest on an unlikely suburban road. But, here, owner James Fowler turns out some noble food and cocktails worthy of the extra miles. A master of many, he cooks from a wood-fired oven, while making charcuterie, serving day-fresh seafood, and shaking some serious cocktails (this is a chef who won Diageo’s 2014 World Class U.K. Bartender of the year). The txuleton steak, charred mackerel fillet, and rock oysters are popular choices.

Ham hock and cheesy pea galette at the Larder House near the New Forest
Ham hock and cheesy pea galette at the Larder House
The Larder House/Instagram

Verveine Fishmarket Restaurant

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The fishmongers at Milford on Sea’s Verveine dates back 50 years. Cannily, they morphed the back area into a restaurant where, thanks to chef and patron David Wykes’ thoughtful menu, it’s heaving. Turbot char siu, scallop porridge and sea bass are three specials. Worth noting, there’s a cookbook out soon.

Smoked eel, chicken skin, pickled onions, and brown sauce at Verveine in the New Forest
Smoked eel, chicken skin, pickled onions, and brown sauce at Verveine
The Electric Eye/Facebook

The Greyhound on the Test

Just yonder from the forest is the village of Stockbridge. Its rudely pretty high street is awash with food gaffs, but the most cherished is Greyhound on the Test. Stockbridge wild mushrooms on toast with garlic and sage, Broughton buffalo carpaccio, and the watercress (no doubt from nearby watercress-mecca, Alresford) with Old Winchester cheese and almond salad, are just a few winners from Chris Heather’s modern British repertoire.

Shrimp pilaf at the Greyhound on the Test near the New Forest
Shrimp pilaf at the Greyhound on the Test
David Griffen/for Greyhound on the Test

The Black Rat Restaurant

Just outside the forest is Winchester, the ancient capital of England. There you’ll find the Black Rat. Don’t be turned off by the rodent theme. Jon Marsden Jones spins the stove with the kind of vim and vigour one might hope from someone in charge of a Michelin-starred kitchen. He’s well loved for his decadent fix of duck-fat brioche with game terrine, liver, and red currant. And his range is evident in delicate wild salmon, which might be paired with seaweed and local greens, pureed and blanched, or a more fortifying spiced beef short rib, with burrata, harissa, tomatoes, and chimichurri.

The Royal Oak

This freehouse in Fritham, dating to the 1600s, has a diminutive menu — ploughman’s and pork pies are staples. Handsome wedges of cheeses from the excellent Lyburn Farm a few miles away, local ham, and punchy pickles are the formula here for a trusty lunch. Appropriately, it’s all delivered through a low-slung bar in the thatched cottage.

Lime Wood

With its celeb-speckled spa, haute interior, and the surrounding fecund forest nestling in at every opportunity, Lime Wood Hotel is a sybaritic affair. In keeping, its restaurant is “led” by chef-legend Angela Hartnett, and Luke Holder. Small plates hop off the pass all day. Cue vitello tonnato and the ubiquitous-menu-favourite smoked cod’s roe. A la carte is all polenta agnolotti with truffle, artichoke and dried tomato, and Hampshire saddleback pork.

Polenta agnolotti, truffle, artichoke, and dried tomato at Lime Wood in the New Forest
Polenta agnolotti, truffle, artichoke, and dried tomato at Lime Wood
Lime Wood [Official Photo]

The Pig

Established in 2011 by hotel hotshot Robin Hutson, The Pig in Brockenhurst, was an immediate hit for its menu, the ingredients for which were all sourced from within 25 miles of the restaurant. Today, the forest’s produce remains a focal point for chef James Golding, who plucks leaves from the garden and smokes local hog and trout whenever he can. The restaurant’s menu is split under headers like “piggy bits,” “forest bits,” “mostly picked this morning.” Hampshire wood pigeon, cauliflower cheese with Isle of wight blue, and zero mile mushroom risotto are all comforting stars of the show.

The Pig
The Pig [Official Photo]

The Terrace Restaurant

At The Terrace in Beaulieu, folks rave about chef Matthew Tomkinson’s signature: Sweet voluptuous Scottish scallops come with a creamy cauliflower puree and nudges of coriander and cumin. For those prone to menu-envy, best get the tasting menu, which includes stunning desserts like chilled New Forest strawberry consommé with lemon verbena sorbet and almond tuile.

Chef Matthew Tomkinson’s chilled New Forest strawberry consommé with lemon verbena sorbet and almond tuile
The Terrace Restaurant [Official Photo]

The Elderflower Restaurant

When former Chewton Glen chef Andrew Du Bourg set up his solo venture in 2013, it made waves among denizens. His CV includes stints at Michelin-starred The Goring and Club Gascon in London, so classic cooking is the mainstay. Currently, most popular is the theatrical dessert called ‘Close, But No Cigar’, a heady chocolate-coffee-whisky combo. Though, keep a snout out for more rustic options like home-cured ham, cured sea trout, and suckling pig.

The Elderflower Restaurant in Lymington
The Elderflower Restaurant [Official Photo]

The Dining Room at Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa

A visit to Chewton Glen in New Milton elicits mixed responses. It’s posh, in a word. Nevertheless, its dowdy-luxe vibe attracts a crowd of all generations. There’s a new cookery school, The Kitchen, where Tom Kitchin and other famous names from around the British Isles make cameos. The Dining Room is run by Luke Matthews, a champion of seafood and a dab hand with local vegetables. It’s also worth checking out the spa and treehouses.

Asparagus at Chewton Glen
The Dining Room at Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa [Official Photo]

The Larder House

Yes, this is 10 miles beyond the forest on an unlikely suburban road. But, here, owner James Fowler turns out some noble food and cocktails worthy of the extra miles. A master of many, he cooks from a wood-fired oven, while making charcuterie, serving day-fresh seafood, and shaking some serious cocktails (this is a chef who won Diageo’s 2014 World Class U.K. Bartender of the year). The txuleton steak, charred mackerel fillet, and rock oysters are popular choices.

Ham hock and cheesy pea galette at the Larder House near the New Forest
Ham hock and cheesy pea galette at the Larder House
The Larder House/Instagram

Verveine Fishmarket Restaurant

The fishmongers at Milford on Sea’s Verveine dates back 50 years. Cannily, they morphed the back area into a restaurant where, thanks to chef and patron David Wykes’ thoughtful menu, it’s heaving. Turbot char siu, scallop porridge and sea bass are three specials. Worth noting, there’s a cookbook out soon.

Smoked eel, chicken skin, pickled onions, and brown sauce at Verveine in the New Forest
Smoked eel, chicken skin, pickled onions, and brown sauce at Verveine
The Electric Eye/Facebook