The Village Inn, Buriton, Petersfield
February 14, 2017
Owner Chris Cooper, with chef patron Heinrich Boreniok and designer Rebecca Barnes, have transformed this boutique pub/hotel in the little village of Buriton, just off the A3 south of Petersfield.
The welcome is warm; logs blazing in the comfortable fireside area, the staff friendly and knowledgeable.
The interior is elegant, spacious and light, with tables of various sizes and styles, and some quirky touches – such as the gin shed with its 35 varieties of gin and a delicate painting of juniper; little felt ducks picking up on the Buriton sign (the duckpond is just along the street); the wallpaper with its colourful glasses motif; a vice holding books; and the mismatched collection of chairs and rustic bar stools made from pallets.
Our visit had to include a section from the gin shed – so I chose Warner Edwards Victoria’s Rhubarb, made using a crop of rhubarb originally grown in the kitchen garden of Buckingham palace during the reign of Queen Victoria. The rhubarb juice is extracted using a traditional fruit press and blended with Harrington Dry Gin.
My colleague Chloe selected a Williams Pink Grapefruit gin which was crisp and aromatic, a good aperitif.
The food is beautifully presented – unfussy, hearty portions and packed with flavour.
We started with the Home-made Potted Cognac-infused Duck (£7.50) and Crispy Devilled Whitebait, with fried Parsley, Lemon, and House Tartare Sauce (£6.50). The whitebait was huge; not the usual tiny slivers of fish one usually gets, and the tartare sauce was chunky and fresh – a great accompaniment. The duck – succulent shards of meat in a pot of delicious stock – came with sourdough toast made by renowned Froxfield resident Vicky Christie. The crunchiness of the toast contrasted perfectly with the rich duck.
Main courses include Blackmoor Estate venison, Goodwood Home Farm free-range organic pork sausages and gammon, fisherman’s pie, and South Downs Lamb.
But I selected the Rib-eye (300g) steak (£25.00) which came with enormous, triple cooked chips and grilled cherry tomatoes on the vine, and I chose a Grilled Portobello Mushroom with Garlic Butter (£2.50) as a side dish.
Heinrich’s menu is centred on ‘top notch, dry-aged steaks matured on the bone for a minimum of 30 days and then fired over white hot oak, beech, hickory and cherry wood’ using the Big Green Egg – a giant barbecue device which can smoke (the Village Inn smokes its own salmon) as well as grill and roast. The steak was melt-in-the-mouth, juicy and tender, with a lovely smoky, caramelised flavour – highly recommended.
I accompanied it with a glass of the recommended El Púgil Tempranillo (£16.90 bottle, glasses £3.40, £4.20, £5.80). The wine list at the Village Inn is lengthy and comprehensive – plenty of choice there for wine-lovers.
Chloe chose the ‘Half Chicken & Chips’ – free range, roasted, virtually boneless chicken, served with its own Pan Juices, Winter Slaw and Triple Cooked Chips (£15.50). The mighty portion of chicken, freshly cooked to order, was moist and flavourful, with a delicious crisp skin.
We both liked the rustic, outdoorsy style of cooking – there are plans to extend the kitchen so that diners can see their food being cooked – a nice bit of theatre that should go down well.
Replete, we were still tempted by the dessert menu and Chloe chose a plum crumble with custard – perfect traditional warming fare for a cold February evening.
I decided to sample another recommendation, QB by Pinkster – a quince and wild bullace gin – a beautiful golden liqueur with a subtly sweet aromatic flavour.
It is probably best to book in advance if you want to eat here – since it opened in January it has been very busy and is already picking up great reviews. And it’s easy to see why – the food is fabulous and the atmosphere relaxed. Something I really like is that you can actually hear yourself here – despite the spaciousness, it retains a comfortable, home-from-home feel, with a sense of humour.
See www.villageinnburiton.co.uk or call 01730 233440 to find out more about the menu, the wine and gin lists, or to book a room at The Village Inn.