Samphire, Lymington, Hampshire: ‘An eruption in a Cath Kidston outlet’ – restaurant assessment | Eating places

‘Executed with aplomb and comes in a guzzle-worthy sauce’: The hand-dived shetland scallops at Samphire in Lymington.

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 lodge in Lymington, Hampshire, have been very courageous, and have provide you with a kind of “eruption in a Cath Kidston outlet” vibe, which I fairly cherished, not least as a result of I typically bemoan eating places which can be decked out in risk-free shades of beige, tapioca and silt, as if the administration have 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 you need to fake that dwell ants and uncooked duck offal are scrumptious. No, we’re simply doing fish and potatoes and the like. Aunty Bertha shall be utterly secure right here.”

Stanwell Home’s refurbishment has resulted in three totally different eating choices. There’s additionally the Salt Bar and the Orangery, which don’t take themselves too significantly and have been filled with 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 a minimum of 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 have 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 reality, 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 enormous, all the things at Stanwell is fairly costly wherever you perch your backside, however a minimum of at Samphire you possibly can 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, will be really groundbreaking, as a result of it’s merely damp rice with aspirations, however this was a butterscotch-coloured pool of loveliness with 4 massive prawns atop a scattering of sea herbs.

The red shrimp risotto served at Samphire in Lymington.
The ‘attractive’ pink 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 stunning, but they have 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 get pleasure from 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 someday 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, however it 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 taking place right here, however there are additionally quite a lot of barely old-hat concepts delivered in an immediately forgettable method.

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

Every thing candy that I noticed appeared 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 via, 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, fairly adorably, “To the Land of Milk and Honey”.

This can be a boutique lodge that doesn’t skimp on the trendy chintz, and the place you could possibly tear via the money with out ever being overwhelmed with emotion over the meals or the service. Even so, you’ll be deeply grateful to be right here, as a result of the comfortable furnishings are so richly vibrant and, in winter 2023, all the things outdoors its home windows is so totally miserable.

Sure, on steadiness, I’d fairly 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