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Adventurous feasting in the New Forest

Angela Hartnett’s imaginatively hearty marriage of English and Italian cuisine

Adventurous feasting in the New Forest

January 09 2013
Camilla Apcar

In the depths of the New Forest, Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett (right in picture) is continuing her culinary adventures by firing up the ovens at Lime Wood hotel’s newly refurbished restaurant. The Connaught’s former chef patron has joined forces with Lime Wood’s head chef, Luke Holder (left in picture), to create a locally sourced menu of English cuisine with cunning Italian twists for Hartnett Holder & Co, which opens on Monday February 11 and is currently taking bookings.

Master of interior design Martin Brudnizki (Le Caprice, Corrigan’s, J Sheekey Oyster Bar) is in charge of the dining room’s redesign, which will focus around a panelled, dark-stained central oak bar replete with a meat slicer and working wine gantry. From behind the green-marbled counter, chefs will sauté, simmer and serve each dish before diners.

Intrepid gourmands might begin by sampling a braised treviso of golden raisins and toasted crumbs, or perhaps duck heart and turnips on toast, while comfortably cushioned away from the bar in a low mohair velvet armchair or aged leather sofa. The menu offers a wave of locally sourced seafood, such as grilled red mullet coupled with cock crab, or poached hake alongside raw razor shells. Choices from the south coast continue in the form of soft polenta ravioli stuffed with Dorset truffle and artichokes, Isle of Wight lobster spaghetti and New Forest venison accompanied by red cabbage apple slaw.

Enjoyed beneath the light of bespoke chandeliers, this home-cooked-style food, followed by a sneaky scoop or two of homemade stracciatella gelato, eschews fine-dining fanciness in favour of more relaxed fare. “It’s fun dining,” says Robin Hutson, chairman of the Lime Wood Group.