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Review: The Elderflower, Lymington

Sea bass tartare

Sea bass tartare

So we took a last-minute weekend down in the New Forest. There was literally one place on booking.com available, The East End Inn, pretty much middle of nowhere. We got there and discovered that slightly bizarrely it was owned by the bass guitarist of Dire Straits and had a (kinda average) seafood restaurant attached. Apparently good enough for a mention in the Michelin guide though. We also got lucky with a table for lunch at The Elderflower in Lymington, a much better class of restaurant with a heavy leaning towards seafood.

Bream

Bream

It’s a nice location in the middle of this little port town, a very trad but comfy dining room, and helpful service. Their menus are all set, and the lunch is four courses. Top marks for presentation throughout; very pretty dishes.

The starter was a sea bass tartare with julienne apple, a nice avocado sorbet, crab mayo and cubes of roasted brown crab jelly. Those jelly cubes were AWESOME. Packed with deep flavour and an absolute wonder. The tartare was good and the apple and avocado made sense. I just think those wonderful crab cubes would have hit better in a crab salad. Anyway, picky. It was good.

The fish course was a chunk of bream with good crispy skin, though that did mean the fish itself was very well cooked. Given a really good seaside-y flavour with a light mussel cream sauce, samphire and purslane. The final element was a slice of leek stuffed with scallop mousse, massively flavoured with dill. This was a lovely thing and – like the crab cubes – a new one on me.

Chicken

Chicken

Chicken main was good, four pieces done four ways. I particularly liked the delicate white chicken boudin sausage. All very chicken. Pudding was a chocolate pave with cherries, a wine jelly, meadowsweet cream and a hibiscus disc and ice cream. Very good mixture of richness, tanginess, fragrance and fruit.

So I enjoyed lunch at The Elderflower. It’s £65 each before drinks, and that feels like good value for some traditional and well-executed fine dining with a couple of genuinely nifty touches.

Pud

Pud

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