The Pig describes itself as a ‘Restaurant with rooms’, as the restaurant is really the centre piece and ethos of the destination, however the rooms are anything but the afterthought that is implied.
We arrived mid-afternoon on Sunday, and as soon as we turned off the country road at the shining copper pig sign that signified our arrival, I was transported to a place of blissful calm. Even walking through the hallway past the crowded dining room which was bustling with guests enjoying Sunday lunch and children playing hide & seek; the atmosphere was still tranquil.
We were greeted at the reception desk by a friendly host who checked us in quickly and led us to our ‘Comfy Luxe’ room, pointing out features along the way, such as where to borrow bikes, wellies or a croquet set if you wish. One thing I noticed and loved immediately was the relaxed demeanour of the staff – all clad in dark wash jeans and converse, they were attentive but not pushy or formal as so often can be the case. Our host did not hesitate in trekking us through the garden in the drizzle, laden down with far more luggage than necessary for a weekend break-despite the phone ringing off the hook with enquiries and bookings.
Our room was light and spacious yet cosy, and had lovely country touches such as the fireplace filled with artistically placed logs, antique looking cookery books and a stunning view across the grounds.
The bed was a cloud of pristine white linen with the kind of puffy duvet that makes a comforting squelch and envelopes you; unfortunately for us it was too early for bed and too late for an afternoon nap by this point.
All the home comforts you could need were on hand, including a DVD player for the fully stocked library of films you can borrow in the main house. Inside the mini bar was a selection of all the usual suspects plus some retro sweets like Dip dabs, popping candy and fruit salads which were a fun touch and perfect for a midnight snack.
The bathroom was huge and made me wish for another night, just to experience the beautiful roll-top bath, which unfortunately due to our packed itinerary, was left untested. Like the rest of the room, the bathroom is modern but with vintage elements which give it a homely country feel, such as the gorgeous antique wood floor and stable like doors. A set of handmade toiletries were arranged neatly in the shower which you could’ve fitted four people in and two fluffy chocolate robes hung on the back of the door invitingly.
The Pig is founded on the belief of using locally sourced or home grown produce with head chef James Golding creating the ’25 mile menu’ to reflect this. All ingredients for his dishes come from suppliers within a 25 mile radius or on site, with The Pig having its own kitchen garden, as well as chickens laying fresh eggs, a smoke house for smoking ham and fish, and the recently added bee hives, it really is a ‘field-to-plate’ experience.
The restaurant is greenhouse like in design, with wooden tables, plant filled terracotta pots and hanging foliage, and at night it is beautifully lit with lots of candles.
We decided on a selection of the renowned ‘Piggy bits’ to start as we hadn’t had the lightest of lunches. We chose mini Hampshire chorizo and salami sticks and the crackling with apple sauce which was delicious. I had decided to get in the spirit of The Pig and order Pork (don’t judge me) and was debating between the Old Spot pork chop or the intriguingly named ‘Extraordinary’ pork chap- not really knowing what chap was or what was extraordinary about it. I asked our waitress for clarification and she explained it was pig’s cheek and went into so much detail of the cut that it deterred me into choosing the chop instead. I have to say that when it arrived I was extremely glad she had put me off as the cheek was essentially a face, complete with teeth! Nevertheless, Helen assured me it was delicious, and for those of you not so faint hearted about meat I would urge you to try it as fellow diners in the restaurant were also raving about it. My chop was equally tasty, with a rich mustard sauce and the quirky apple fritter which looked like a doughnut.
Stuffed, but not wanting to forgo any of the Pigs delicacies we ‘forced’ ourselves into ordering desserts; a creamy white chocolate and raspberry slab and a blueberry and lemon trifle, both of which were heaven.
A cup of tea in the study later and there was nothing left to do but roll ourselves back to our room for a night of pig filled dreams.
Like a country cliché I was woken the next morning by a cockerels call and still feeling full from dinner the night before, decided to explore the grounds in order to work up a bit of an appetite for breakfast.
We wandered through the kitchen garden and admired the neatly labelled crops, said hello to the pet pigs and chickens, and took a stroll across the wooden bridge to the potting shed treatment room before making our way back to the main house.
Breakfast is served in the restaurant, which takes on a totally different atmosphere in daylight. You can choose from a buffet style breakfast table which is laden with fresh fruit, pastries, granola, cereals and juices or you can choose a cooked option ranging from the full monty to eggs any way you can imagine. Not being too ambitious I choose poached eggs on toast and a pot of earl grey, which turned out to be the perfect way to start our final day in the new forest.
Rooms at The Pig start at £135 per night. For more details visit the website at http://www.thepighotel.com