Last month Mr T and I were lucky enough to visit Lime Wood, a beautiful Regency country house hotel which started life as a hunting lodge in the 13th century just a couple of miles outside Lyndhurst. We were there to visit Angela Hartnett’s new restaurant, Hartnett Holder & Co. all expertly arranged by the great team at Angel Publicity. The restaurant and hotel have had a complete makeover by Martin Brudnizki to wonderful effect. Everything feels extremely well thought out and very English, in the restaurant there’s a mix of Colman’s mustard yellow leather tub chairs and rough linens, antique lights and lovely blue and white mismatched china. It manages to be homely and laid back – the very opposite of your typical hotel restaurant.
In the kitchen, Angela has teamed up with Lime Wood’s Luke Holder and it is a very happy union indeed. Together they are producing food which is grounded and informal with a nod to the seasons and to their shared Italian background. Some of the standout dishes on our visit included a beautifully silky ravioli with soft polenta, artichokes and Dorset truffles, Spaghetti with Isle of Wight lobster, chilli, parsley and crimson red slices of New Forest venison served with red cabbage and apple slaw.
Also worth trying are some of the smoked meats and fish on the menu ranging from chorizo, smoked salmon and bresaola to salami, pastrami and pancetta which come straight from Lime Wood’s own smokehouse, a small brick house tucked under the brow if the hill close to the house which you might spot on a little wander around the grounds.
Throughout the rest of the hotel there are lovely touches like the large wooden table in the working kitchen where guests can sit down with a cup of coffee and chat with the chefs about what they’re up to or book it for a rather different kind of private dinner.
You can’t really come to Lime Wood and not swoon over the spa – there’s a steaming outdoor hot pool and herb roof garden with views of the surrounding forest. It’s all rather magical. In the bedrooms there are real wood fires and an ‘After Hours’ menu of clever little things you might wake in the night and wish for like Heinz tomato soup with crusty bread or eggs and marmite soldiers. This is a very happy place to be indeed.
Hartnett Holder & Co (02380 287 167; hartnettholderandco.co.uk)