review by Janine Pulford
A visit to The White Buck at Burley takes you into the heart of the New Forest. This Fuller’s-owned inn with rooms enjoys a reputation for its hospitality, good music and elegant menu.
At the height of the season, when the garden is in use, up to 400 people can be served with a Sunday roast, so the staff are used to being busy.
The restaurant seats up to 140, yet the quaint atmosphere of this charming inn is preserved in several separate dining areas.
Winter is soon forgotten once you’re through the door as warming fires, including a raised, open wood fire between the Gun Room and the bar, throw out the heat.
Marta showed us to our table. Nick chose an Amstel lager and I opted for a Cornish Orchard elderflower pressé. There are several Fuller’s draught beers on tap at The Buck including London Pride.
Enticing starters lured us in as we enjoyed a bowl of garlic and chilli marinated olives from the Nibbles menu.
Potted duck with spiced pear chutney rang bells from the past for Nick and the dish took him to his youth. When spread on sourdough toast, an unusual twist for bread, and with a helping of chutney that ‘peared’ well with the meat, he found the whole irresistibly more-ish.
A goat’s cheese and pumpkin tart with a walnut salad opened new doors for me. Somehow the creative chef, Thomas Baker, had turned the cheese into a creamy delight, and when combined with the warm and delicate pastry and pieces of pumpkin, it offered a melt-in-themouth marriage of flavours and textures. With walnuts for crunch and a freshly dressed salad, the dish was complete.
Food is locally sourced where possible and includes Avon trout and Dorset lamb.
Talking of which, Nick chose a slow-braised lamb shoulder. The turret of tender meat with a moat of cranberry jus was flanked with rosemary rosti on one side and sautéed kale on the other. The startling presentation matched the stunning flavours and Nick found the meal satisfying.
Meanwhile my pan-roasted cod loin, pea and broad bean risotto with basil pesto was another feast for the eyes. Green risotto was crowned with a generous cod loin that was cooked to perfection so that the large, tender white flakes of fish parted easily and imparted a fresh flavour. The creamy risotto was full of baby broad beans that added pops of yumminess. The large portion defeated me – only because I knew there was another course to follow.
Who can resist a crême caramel especially served with pecans, toasted hazelnuts and mandarins with a hint of spice? Not me. It tasted as good as its description and to further complement the meal I was now drinking a Cawston Press gooseberry crush blended with crisp apples.
Nick’s Overton ice cream from Laverstoke Park Farm took his dessert to the next level. He chose a scoop of salted caramel, with a proper salty taste, and scoop of vanilla. Made from buffalo milk, this ice cream is exceptionally creamy and was a divine end to the meal. I did of course have a taste.
Were we finished? Not quite. Marta suggested a Bailey’s latte in the Gun Room.
We discovered that at lunchtimes you can also visit the White Buck for sandwiches and nibbles in between your countryside walk among the ponies that are such a part of the New Forest.
For those wishing to stay overnight or longer, the inn has been extended and now offers 20 rooms. It also has a large car park and copes well with functions.
The restaurant is normally busy, so booking is strongly recommended and essential at weekends, call 01425 402264. Music at The Buck is popular, with one or two gigs a month. The staff are pleasant and welcoming.
With our meal over, and our hearts and our hands warmed, we bade farewell to The Buck, making a promise to return again soon.