During our most recent visit England to see the in-laws , we had a fair idea they would be happy spending lots of time with the grand-kids, so we took full advantage and decided to dine at as many restaurants, cafes and gastro pubs we could squeeze into 26 days! We have favorite venues of course, like The Red Lion pub in Overton owned and operated by friends, publican Caroline and her chef hubby from California named Shannon, who have previously earned themselves listings in the Good Food Guide and been awarded Rosettes with The Red House in Whitchurch. Not to mention The Hurstbourne, another quaint little pub, the award winning chef there is also a very good mate, Pete and the hubby go a long way back……but that’s a whole other story best kept for another time. The Plough Inn at Longparish has just earned itself the title of Pub of the Year Award by Good Food Guide 2013, and what a fitting way for the hubby to make-up shall we say for a lack luster Mother’s Day. In Australia it was Mother’s day but not in England, I received a birthday card with the word birthday crossed out and I received the egg timer pictured, cute yes but there is a handbag shop in the village and I was expecting something probably in leather, a blue one I had pointed out the day before…nope! Divorce was a distinct possibility but I gave him the option of making it up to me some other way, not what you’re thinking, with good food and wine and he did!
What a fantastic pub and restaurant to have a pint of hand pulled ale on tap or sip a glass of something special, have an amazing lunch or dinner in lovely rustic setting or just sit at the bar and hang with the locals all dressed in checks, hats and green wellies, uniform of the Hampshire farmer I think? The warm and charming atmosphere made you feel at home instantly, we chose a quiet little corner to look over the surprising wine list, we seem to have experienced so much of the same by the way of wine lists at places we had previously dined but this refreshing little pub had an impressive selection of fine wines and real ales!
I chose a glass of 2010 The Home Farm Semillion Chenin Blanc, the acidity of the Chenin was well balanced with the heavy notes of tropical fruits, it was crisp and delicious, served in a very large glass which opened up the flavor of the wine perfectly. The hubby as usual began with a pint of ale followed by a glass of 2008 Castillo Clavijo Rioja Crianza, red berries, spice and vanilla with a smooth, ripe palate, balanced perfectly. The Spanish Rioja in Australia is more commonly known as Tempranillo, it’s region specific grape as Champagne is to France.
While savoring our well chosen wines, we had time to look at the a la carte menu which by the way is mouth watering! I decided on the 8oz sirloin steak aged for 28 days on the bone! Cooked perfectly blue, just how I like and it was served with those naughty but too good not eat chips, triple cooked and delicious. The hubby ordered the slow cooked pork belly served with baked turnips, black pudding and an apricot puree which was divine, plating of both dishes was professional and very appealing. After these beautifully prepared and presented dishes were finished and I mean we did everything but lick the plate, I could only order more wine, absolutely no room for dessert!
Not to mention we were attended to impeccably from the moment we walked in the door, service was friendly, efficient and done with a smile which let’s face it, smiling seems to be a lost art these days. Janet Cage is the front of house manager at The Plough, previously head waitress at Michelin starred restaurant Maze in Mayfair and also relocated to Melbourne to take on the role as assistant manager for the new opening of Maze Melbourne. Luckily for the people of Hampshire, Janet was back at the end of 2011 to help with opening the new Plough.
I would recommend The Plough to anybody, such a great pub in a quaint little village where most of the houses have thatched roofs, it’s typical England countryside, although The Plough is not typical at all, I was very impressed and the Good Food Guide listing is well deserved!