The Mill at Gordleton is a place close to my heart as it is a hidden gem, only a stone’s throw from my childhood home near Lymington in the New Forest, where my parents still live. As a belated Father’s Day treat, we had an outing there last Sunday where we enjoyed a lovely relaxed lunch on the outside terrace. We’d originally booked a table in the dining room, but when Sunday dawned warm and sunny, we were thrilled that we’d – by chance – booked somewhere with an extensive outdoor area, and were very pleased when we arrived to be given a choice of indoor or outdoor dining.
The Mill is, as the name would suggest, an old watermill, lovingly converted into a small hotel and restaurant. It’s set in stunningly beautiful riverside grounds, complete with a ‘Secret Garden’, an art walk (featuring some interesting sculptures by local artists), a Victorian swimming pool that is being converted to a carp pond, complete with water feature, and various flora and fauna, the latter of which includes ‘Crispie’, the Mill’s very own pet duck, and some of her friends. Visitors can buy a variety of lovely merchandise dedicated to Crispie – but we were lucky enough to see her putting in an appearance in person (or should that be in duck?) as she swam past our riverside table during our meal!
We chose a lovely table overlooking the river, shaded by an umbrella – which as the afternoon went on and the sun moved, didn’t really do the trick for all of us, and we had to ask if it could be tilted like some of the others. Unfortunately, it couldn’t, but later on the man we had asked remembered our request and came over to replace it with a tilting one that had been on one of the other tables that was no longer occupied.
We had an aperitif whilst consulting the menu – mine being one of the most beautifully presented glasses of Pimm’s I have ever set eyes on – perfect for a Summer’s day! The Sunday lunch menu is £21.95 for two courses and £26.95 for three, and has a range of traditional roasts, plus a few more unusual options. Like father, like daughter, my Dad and I both started off with crab and prawns bound in crème fraiche with an avocado salsa and mixed leaves. This was extremely tasty and a lovely light, fresh, summery dish, but would have been a bit lacking in texture had we not asked for bread to go with it. Mr W and my Mum both chose a smoked mackerel pate with green peppercorns and melba toast. Mackerel is not a favourite of mine as it can be overpowering, both in taste and texture, but this managed to be fairly delicate in both respects and was lovely with the crunch toast.
Despite the heat, we all decided to opt for a roast as a main course. Impressively, there was a choice of pork, beef and lamb, plus a chicken dish, salmon and a vegetarian option for those who preferred an alternative. I had the beef and was particularly pleased to see that you could choose to have it cooked pink, medium or well done. On looking at the photograph, no one should be in any doubt as to what I chose! In real life the colour was not quite so vibrant – I can only assume that a combination of the bright sunlight and my camera has made my meat appear almost day glow pink, which I can assure you it wasn’t (but it definitely was beautifully rare!) It came presented with two enormous Yorkshire puddings, some totally delicious crispy roast potatoes and gravy.
Mr W and my Mum both chose the lamb, which came with an unusual but very tasty white onion sauce on the side, and my Dad went for the pork. All of us thoroughly enjoyed our main meals and agreed that they were some of the best roast meals we had experienced in a restaurant.
We had a selection of vegetables on the table, including cauliflower cheese, which is a favourite of mine, plus the relevant sauces to go with each of our respective meats (horseradish, mint and apple).
Despite being pleasantly (or not so pleasantly!) replete, none of us apart from Mum could resist choosing something from an impressive selection of traditional and not so traditional puddings. I went for bread and butter pudding with clotted cream and fruit coulis, which could have been unbearably stodgy after a big meal, but I had high hopes for it based on the quality of everything else and was not disappointed as it was beautifully light and fluffy, but with some lovely crispy edges. It came with an ice cream scoop sized serving of clotted cream which could have been a bit too rich, but was nicely offset by the fruit coulis.
Mr W chose apple crumble and custard, which went down similarly well – soft, juicy chunks of apple, a crisp crumble topping and rich vanilla custard. After much discussion, Dad went for the less traditional option of an elderflower and strawberry sabayon with ice cream, which turned out to be almost like a soft meringue on top of fresh strawberries. Again, an excellent pudding.
We spent an absolutely blissful afternoon on the terrace (I also had a wander round the gardens), with time stretching into the early evening before we left, and I am sure we could have stayed longer, but we were aware that everyone else was long gone (hence my being able to get an A.A. Gill-esque photo of a completely empty dining area!) The food and location could not be faulted in the slightest – and even had we had to sit inside, the dining room is still lovely and I am sure we would have enjoyed ourselves just as much.
Food: ***** Service: *** Ambience: *****
The Mill at Gordleton, Silver Street, Sway, Lymington, Hampshire SO41 6DJ