After a lovely walk in the New Forest, Rachel and I, along with the small hairy one, made our way to The Hare and Hounds to refuel. Not wanting to miss a reviewing opportunity, I whipped out my gastrohub hat and started paying attention.
There is fierce competition in The New Forest when it comes to foodie pubs. This should, at least in theory, result in a certain standard being met by all, or at least most. The weather was still good, so we decided to take a table outside and see how high they are placing the bar at this particular fooderie. Fooderie is now a real word, I've decided. There seem to be three options when it comes to the outside seating. The main garden, which seemed to be occupied by a children's party, the area out the front, this is where we ended up, and a slice of garden down the right hand side of the pub, which we didn't notice until we were leaving. The pub itself is pretty sizable, although I didn't venture inside. That responsibility was handed to Rachel while I waited outside with dog face. So unless there is some kind of reverse TARDIS thing going on, we can assume there is plenty of space within.
The menu was compelling enough, and managed to spark my interest at times, but it didn't quite give me a five star feeling. After toying with the ideas of cheese and cauliflower soup, then homemade chilli, Rachel made a last minute change, opting for the sweet and sour chicken. I went for something slightly unusual, a combination I have never seen and shall most likely never see again. Samosa with curried rice, naan bread, salad, mango chutney and a sweet chilli dipping sauce. What do you think about that? Dog face wasn't hungry, or if she was, she didn't say anything.
Turns out that it was all rather good. We were warned that there was a bit of a wait due to the volume of custom being experienced. They didn't say it like that though. My Indian banquet was well presented and was headlined by no less than five Samosa's. Each was crispy and filled with a soft blend of delicious vegetables and spices. The rice was really well made and the salad was well dressed. I did also enjoy the naan, but didn't really see how it fitted with the dish. That may sound odd being that everything else was also of Indian persuasion, but I wouldn't generally dip a Nan in mango chutney or sweet chilli, and I wouldn't scoop up rice with it. I personally think that naan's belong with a curry. Rachel's sweet and sour chicken was also very tasty. I asked for a score out of 10, and after a moments deliberation, she awarded it an 8.
This is what I would class as a solid 4 star pub. You can rely on a high standard of food and a professional level of service. It's also in the New Forest, which can't hurt. It's also handy if you happen to be out walking your own hairy friend, as I believe they are a dog friendly establishment. It's always good to know the whereabouts of a quality pub when cruising through the forest, and this is certainly one of those.