review by Janine Pulford
When visiting a pub in the New Forest, part of the experience is the journey.
The scenery is spectacular and you are almost guaranteed to see wildlife.
On our way to the Red Shoot, we saw donkeys, ponies and deer.
As we parked, the sunset was spectacular with beautiful pink clouds streaking a turquoise sky.
Tia showed us to our table in this spacious country pub that has an incredible 120 tables indoors and further seating for 150 diners outside.
Despite the chill in the air, people were sitting outside watching the sun go down while sipping their beers. The Red Shoot has its own micro brewery and Tom’s Tipple, New Forest Gold and Muddy Boot sit alongside the Wadworth range, and prove very popular.
My son Louis and I browsed the menu. It wasn’t that long ago when I last I visited the Red Shoot to review the food and my favourites were still there.
To warm me up, I chose soup of the day, homemade leek and potato. It arrived with rustic bread and was lovely and creamy. Seasoning was required, but as the Red Shoot has salt and pepper grinders on the tables, I could season to my heart’s delight.
Before I got the first spoonful into my mouth, Louis had polished off his starter. Four generous slices of cheesy garlic and herb bread. I was astounded and convinced he was going to crush the Red Shoot challenge that I set during the last review.
Okay, he’d said he was hungry and was looking forward to eating three full courses, but his first one had vanished in seconds.
I, on the other hand, had come back to take my own advice and after the starter, I ordered from the small plates menu. Should I have fish of the day or macaroni cheese? Or go against all my instincts and opt for lamb’s liver and bacon.
Louis dived in and ordered a butterflied chicken burger from the main menu. I did warn him about the portion size, even so, he insisted on a side order of cheesy chips for us to share. I quaked at the thought and this decided me to ask for a small plate of macaroni cheese with a side salad. A perfectly respectable dish for a small person.
The burger landed and looked delightful. Louis chomped through the brioche bun, butterflied chicken breast, bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato and chips. He stopped only to lick his lips and say it was delicious, but then I noticed him flagging over the extra portion of chips.
The cracks were beginning to show.
I loved my small plate of baked macaroni cheese, chive and mature cheddar, served with garlic bread and dressed salad and even managed a few cheesy chips. But I kept a space because I really wanted the lemon meringue that had eluded me on my last visit.
Louis had other plans. He brashly ordered the traditional bread and butter pudding with vanilla pod custard. I scrapped the lemon meringue because I knew he wouldn’t be able to eat all the bread and butter, and I don’t like waste.
When the pudding arrived, stuffed with lots of plump raisins, all Louis could do was admire it. Eventually, he managed one spoonful, but Mum had to eat the rest.
So you see, that Red Shoot challenge isn’t as easy as it sounds, even when you’re starving hungry.
The Red Shoot is a friendly pub, and also dog friendly with biscuits on the counter for hungry pooches. There were at least three doggy patrons on the night we visited. There are quiz nights, darts nights and coming soon is the fabulous Christmas menu with gluten-free options. My advice, is go easy, eat slowly and enjoy! The good news is, if you pay for your Christmas booking in full by 1 November, you will get a 10% discount on your total food bill (this offer does not include Christmas Day).
I hope to return for a third attempt at the lemon meringue. I wonder what my chances are.