To beat the setting of The Mill at Gordleton is difficult at any time of the year, and on a hot spring day it is almost impossible.
We were greeted and asked whether we would prefer the Main Restaurant or The Terrace next to the river. No brainer really, and I had the sunglasses to prove it.
Only Colin and I went for starters, to accompany our respective pints of Grolsh and Thatcher’s cider. He had gone for the tempting Smoked chicken & sweetcorn chowder, the girls abstained, and I had gone for possibly my favourite starter of all, Twice baked soufflé, this time it had a twist, by including Fjordlings of Salisbury smoked salmon and horseradish. Oh yes, delicious!
As you may have seen in previous ’40 B4 40’s’, we always photograph our meals. However on this occasion, mainly due to us both being starving, we had tucked straight in.
It was only when I got a sharp fork stuck in my side, accompanied by the sweet words; “You have forgotten the photo dear”, that I realised it was far too late. How my wife displays such a sweet demeanour whilst attacking me ferociously I have no idea.
As we awaited the main courses, and I tried not to show the pain coming from my left side, we admired not just the immaculate gardens, ambient terrace and babbling river, but also the garden sculptures. The Mill has a number of fantastic local and national artists currently exhibiting their pieces in their beautiful grounds.
They have now added 'The Mill Art Walk', which is a mini tour around the grounds with details on each pieces exhibited and the artists who have kindly contributed them.
Our main courses were soon in front of us, and consisted of Breast of chargrilled free range chicken, olives, sun-dried tomato, artichokes, Pecorino cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette for my wife, two of us had; ‘Scampi’ (breaded medallions of monkfish) with hand cut chips, minted pea and lime crème fraîche, and Colin the Carnivore had a light summer meal of Rich steak and kidney pie with rosary roasted mids and glazed carrots. All were very well cooked, and you could taste the freshness of the ingredients, although I would have preferred Tartare Sauce to the alternative fish accompaniment.
The team at The Mill are very proud of the fact that they make everything in-house themselves, including bread, soups, sauces, ice creams and puddings. They also source local and organic produce including vegetables, free range eggs, local cheeses, New Forest seasonal venison and pork.
Each main course had been devoured and enjoyed, and my perforated side was slowly recovering with the aid of another pint. However, a new dilemma was now facing me. The pudding menu!
Having been mentally narrowing it down to three since seeing the menu an hour or so ago, I made another sacrifice to make a shortlist of two, but still could not decide on just one.
I decided to launch a charm offence on my wife, trying to persuade her to have a pudding (Of my choice of course!). Things like, ‘Go on, treat yourself’, “You can share mine” (That was a lie), “and other pathetic tactics like; “If you loved me you would have one”, were each tried in forlorn effort. Her smile remained enchanting, however her eye’s were darkening on each suggestion, and it was clear that unless I gave up a violent attacked would be on its way imminently. I needed a Plan B.
As we ordered, Tricia inadvertantly went for my very close second choice, the Pavlova with Lymington strawberries and Chantilly cream, and I had settled on the Chocolate Brownie with Tonka Bean Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Sauce. As they arrived I persuaded Tricia to let me photograph her sweet due to the shadows of the beating sun. Plan B was underway. I arranged her sweet and took a great picture whist she chatted. Somehow when her plate returned to its rightful place in front of her, a couple of spoonfuls were missing. I don’t think she bought my explanation that the ducks had swooped across the table helping themselves. I am sure she tried to kick me, but thankfully, she only has little legs.
We have never been disappointed eating at The Mill, and it you dine or visit on a sunny day, it is one of those special New Forest moments.
The Mill at Gordleton Hotel Restaurant
Silver Street, Hordle, near Lymington, SO41 6DJ
If you are wondering what the 40 B4 40 Dining Challenge is all about, please click here and all will be explained.