Hotels & Travel, Mr Sloan

The Pig

Exterior_of_THE_PIGSet in the heart of the beautiful New Forest, THE PIG is a new style of country hotel – the baby sister of the nearby Lime Wood Hotel & Spa, but with a little attitude!

THE PIG is the brainchild of Hotel du Vin co founder – Robin Hutson together with marketing guru David Elton and co investor Jim Ratcliffe who created this property in the New Forest as the prototype for a completely fresh & imaginative approach to the country hotel.

The antithesis of the traditional country house hotel, this is really a restaurant with rooms; the focus is very much on the fabulous, uncomplicated and simple home grown garden food, true to the micro seasons and influenced by the forest, with the emphasis squarely on fresh, clean flavours. Whatever is not grown here in its walled garden is locally sourced within a 25 miles radius – immediacy from garden to plate is THE PIG’s trademark.

To achieve this there is the ‘team of three’ – chef, gardener and forager. The kitchen is over seen by Head Chef James Golding (Le Caprice, J Sheekey, Soho House New York) and the menu is inspired by the likes of Skye Gyngell at Petersham Nurseries and Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, both pioneers of the philosophy that cooking should be based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally.

From_the_menu 01James’ two trusty lieutenants are forager Garry and kitchen gardener Mike. Mike was previously Head Gardener at Babington House and worked at the River Café; he also has a Bsc.Hons in pharmacology. His brief at THE PIG is to actively search out and cultivate more unusual ingredients with which James can work his magic.

Garry is a veteran forager of the New Forest and works extensively with both Lime Wood and THE PIG, ensuring the year-round food from the forest is captured and sampled!

The duo are such a vital part of the culinary mix that THE PIG’s menus change frequently, subject to what Garry unearths or what Mike deems to be in perfect condition.

Served in an authentically reproduced Victorian greenhouse dining room, complete with bare wood table tops and mismatched bone handled cutlery, a meal at THE PIG is a truly one-of-a-kind experience.

The unpretentious home grown style of THE PIG’s food is replicated throughout the hotel. Eschewing the look of the over-designed properties that proliferate the nation, Judy and Robin Hutson have designed THE PIG to feel confident and uncompromisingly comfortable in its own skin – here it’s all about shabby chic homely furnishings, muted colours, comfy chairs, big sofas and roaring fires. THE PIG is warm, laid back, interesting and fun!

Comfy_Luxe_RoomTHE PIG’s 26 bedrooms are a continuation of a theme – evolved rather than designed. Here you will find eclectic furnishings, great beds, oversized showers, ‘larders’ stocked with snacks and drinks, espresso machines and, with every room having a forest or garden outlook, naturally beautifully views.

Outside the main building are the Stables and Piggery – little duplex suites and rooms with their own private courtyards and plenty of original features.

Massage treatments can be enjoyed in the ‘potting shed’ by the lake, staffed by therapists from the Herb House at Lime Wood. Subject to availability, guests are also able to purchase a special day pass to Herb House.

THE PIG brings the garden inside as much as possible and the inside into the garden too. Thus the grounds include many areas where guests can kick back and relax over a glass – or two – and even savour some al fresco dining courtesy of the wood fired oven in the courtyard.

Hand-picked by Robin Hutson, Chairman of Lime Wood Group, the team at THE PIG is headed by General Manager Lora Strizic, former general manager at the award-winning Hotel du Vin Brighton.

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Upon arrival we were given a very warm welcome buy the professional and friendly staff who interestingly wear converse trainers and pink shirts, that give the Pig an air of relaxation from the start. We stayed in a lovely Snug room which had a light airy and spacious feel. The bathroom was supplied with bath products by scented with bergamot, lemon and mandarin. The room had no bath but it had a beautiful rain shower which would satisfy the need of any shower lover. The TV was small but perfect for the stay and the mini bar had an interesting array of goodies from Mr.Filberts nuts to choc chip cookies. The room also had a map designed by The Pig for a romantic country walk or cycle.

After settling in we made our way down to the bar which has a rustic romantic feel. We were greeted with a glass of champagne and some bar nibbles, Brock eggs and Coleman’s dressing which had a ham hock around the egg and was so soft it just fell apart, we were also given a light bite of crispy pork belly with honey and chilli dressing which whet our appetites for the meal to come. Interestingly the bar at The Pig has an array of herb infused vodkas with ingredients from their own herb gardens and the passion for keeping fresh new vodka tastes showed with pine nut vodka to horse radish the pig has it all. The Pig also has an extensive wine list with bottles to suit all budgets with bottles from £26 to £350 they also have a house wine for £16.50 which is not lacking in taste.

Once we were shown to our table and had looked through the extensive menu we choose the Octopus Risotto with a lemon and shallot dressing. The risotto came beautifully infused with garlic with a vibrant green colour with braised octopus sitting delightfully on the top. My dining companion choose the scallops which interestingly was served complete with roe, a delightful change and full of succulent flavor.

The 25 mile radius menu policy is not only well thought out but is also clearly upheld due to the freshness and quality of the ingredients on offer. The food comes dressed (but not drenched) with herb infused oils prepared in the kitchen. The oil is rapeseed oil infused with a mixture of rosemary, bay-leaf and garlic and thyme all from The Pig’s very own herb garden. The complimentary condiments on the table include a home smoked salt and the attention to detail is second to none.

For our main meal we choose the dressed crab and lamb belly. The dressed crab was a generous portion, Fresh yet rich and served with triple cooked chips and a side salad. My dining companion had the lamb belly and remarked on the crispy skin contrasting to the succulence of the lamb belly. It was served on a bed of lentils with an additional portion of cold asparagus dressed with chilli and mint. Although lamb belly by its nature can be fatty, such a compromise in calories is made up by the flavourful explosion that tantalises the taste buds and The Pig successfully reduced the fat content by crisping the skin to perfection.

After a small break we found some room for dessert, to once again assault our taste buds with more yumminess. We had a blackberry and sloe berry sorbet with a dash of sloe gin. The berries were found on site and the dish was named “a shot of foragers sorbet” other flavours include pear sorbet, orange sorbet and rosemary ice cream to name but a few. My dining companion had the white chocolate dessert with lavender, the dish was beautifully light and fluffy and was a fantastic end to the evening and is one I would recommended. We paired dessert with a £4 Muscat and a £7 Rivesattes Ambre Languedoc both well chosen despite the price difference.

The Pig is a hidden gem going that extra mile to be eco-friendly and is a beautiful setting for a romantic date or just a place to unwind and comes highly recommended.

THE PIG – In the Forest, Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7QL
www.thepighotel.co.uk
Reservations: 0845 077 9494

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