review by Carol Waterkeyn
photos by Paul Waterkeyn
On one of the rare sunny days in January, husband Paul and I ventured out into the New Forest near Ringwood to try out the Alice Lisle for a lunch.
The last time we’d been here was some years ago and I don’t know why we haven’t been back sooner. It is in a lovely location overlooking a lake with heathland nearby and usually you see the forest ponies gathering near there.
Hence, it’s a popular haunt for ramblers, cyclists and families – there’s an enclosed play area and decking outside for warmer days. Inside there’s the cosy Foresters bar with leather armchairs for a drink and a snack, or the restaurant, which is where we were headed. We sat in the lovely warm conservatory, which is decorated in a modern shabby chic style.
We had trouble deciding between the menus. From Monday to Thursday you can choose from the Prix Fixe or fixed price menu, which is outstanding value at £12 for two courses or £15 for three. Then there’s a Ramblers Lunch menu with lighter dishes, or the À la Carte. There are also chef’s specials. On the day we visited, the specials menu included the appealing roasted pepper soup; coconut, chilli and lemongrass mussels; chargrilled vegetable and pine nut salad; and venison bolognese. Our chef for the day was Tiffany Cunningham, while head chef is Andrzej Nowak.
Mr W and I decided to mix and match from the various menus. So I selected Cauliflower pakora with almond and coronation mayo as my starter and Pork and chorizo burger served with handcut chips, which was a special that day.
The pakora was really light and delicious, a good choice. The pork and chorizo burger, was perfectly cooked and had a nice smoky taste, not too spicy, which I was able to have in a gluten free bun. I am sensitive to gluten but not a coeliac. The menu indicates that, as the food is prepared in the same kitchen, there is the slight possibility of cross contamination, which wouldn’t have affected me, but those with a serious food allergy may have to tread more cautiously. If in doubt, check with the pub beforehand. Meanwhile, if you are a vegetarian, there’s a range of dishes to suit you. Alternatively, if you prefer fish, there are meals including Dover sole, haddock and chips, shellfish and more to tempt you. There’s a children’s menu for the little people.
Anyway, going back to our own lovely meal, Paul had chosen Grilled lamb koftas with cucumber, pomegranate and mint raita to start and a Cajun chicken, roasted red pepper and sour cream wrap with fries as his main course.
The lamb koftas were served with watercress and pomegranate seeds, which he loved and soon polished off, and the wrap was declared “very good”.
To accompany my food I chose a new, outstanding gin I hadn’t tried before called Mare served with sprigs of rosemary and Feverfew tonic, while Paul, as this is a Fuller’s house, decided on a pint of London Pride.
The service up to and beyond this point was extremely good and the dessert menus appeared.
After deliberation, I selected Raspberry and lime posset served with homemade shortbread (my husband ate the shortbread) and Paul finally decided on Paul’s chocolate brownie sundae with salted caramel ice cream. Well he had to really – it had his name on it!
My dessert looked stunning and had an intensely fruity coulis on top of the posset. It was a winner on all counts.
Paul’s dessert was really decadent and much enjoyed.
With such good quality food being served throughout the day, don’t just expect a pie and a pint, a Ploughman’s or sausage and mash. Yes, there are some more traditional dishes, but there are also some inspiring ones.
New manager Anthony Lee seems to run a tight ship at the Alice Lisle, and we were impressed throughout our visit. If you fancy a walk in the forest followed by a nice lunch or dinner, it’s a good choice, and the pub is not far from Ringwood, at Rockford Green.