Tuesday, 11 August 2020 10:32

The Pig On The Beach - Restaurant Review

As lockdown is eased and restaurants are opening their doors again, we wanted to visit somewhere special for our first restaurant review. Nestled on the Isle of Purbeck is The Pig on the Beach which seemed to fit the bill. Here you'll find a walled kitchen garden, stunning sea views, a path to the beach, a herd of Dorset Horn sheep and top-notch quality, locally sourced food.

We had booked a table for lunch and nabbed a perfect table in half shade with views over the lawn with Old Harry Rocks in the distance. During these COVID-19 times, tables were socially distanced, face masks were required when inside (and not eating) and each table had hand sanitizer. There was no shortage of staff, we must have been served by at least 6 different people during our visit.  However, service was friendly and at a relaxed pace with no rushing through the courses.

Unlike many other restaurants that provide a jug or carafe of water for the table, we had to go through the up-sell rigmarole of “still or sparkling?”. Be ready for other up-sells too - the sommelier offering you a glass of fizz on arrival before having a chance to look at the drinks menu, bread will be casually offered, soft drinks and mocktails are available but not listed, so prices are unknown. We ordered a tasty raspberry fruit punch and a Seedlip Salad mocktail, but declined the fizz, bread and asked for a jug of tap water.

The Food

We choose from the seasonal 25-Mile Menu, the idea being that all local food and beverage suppliers are within 25 miles of the venue – reducing food miles and packaging. In fact, The Pig restaurants produce around 17 tons of their own fruit and vegetables on their own sites each year, which require no packaging and do not need to travel.

Overall we found the menu a little confusing and hard to know what portion size each item is. We asked the waitress about a couple of dishes to find out a little more about what each dish comes with, but didn’t want to have to ask about every item.

The menu starts with the offering of Fishy, Garden and Piggy Bits, but it's not immediately obvious that there are two separate options for each of these, so we ended up getting both of the Piggy options, Sausage Rolls and Ham Hock. These were both delicious and would be enough for a starter (certainly for a lunch sitting).

Then there's a selection of Garden, Greenhouse and Polytunnel dishes which appear to be starters. We tried the Aubergine and Smoked Halloumi, and the Garden Leek and Blue Vinny Tart. Both dishes were absolutely divine, with the smoked halloumi bits having a crispy shell leading to a warm gooey middle.

The menu then offers Starters (or Bigger) dishes. Having already had two full dishes each this seems odd. Below this section is Purbeck and Coast which are the main-mains. We choose the Poole Bay Mackerel from that selection and the Pressed Ham Hock from the Starters as it’s offered as a bigger version for a main. The ham hock dish doesn't work as a main, it's just two slabs of ham hock, assuming the smaller version is one slab. Two chunks of meat presented like this was rather uninspiring on the plate, although very tasty to eat - served with shallots and pickled walnut salad. Some crusty bread would help round off this dish better. The Poole Bay Mackerel comes butterflied open, tail on, char-grilled and then drenched in a shallot and pickled gooseberry dressing. This was excellent and a must-try for fish lovers. The fish was very well cooked, the plump gooseberries bursting with flavour, it's one of the best fish dishes we've had. We ordered a side of roast beetroot, which came as a generous portion in mixed shades of red.

The menus were left on the table during the meal (probably a Coronavirus measure) which allowed us to consider the dessert options. We went for the New Forest Raspberry Trifle with toasted almonds and the Piggy Fours - a small selection of mini treats, perfect with a coffee.

The Bill

The menu states service of 12.5% will be automatically added to your bill and you need to ask to remove it if you think service wasn’t up to scratch. We always tip good service and have no problem with tipping 10% - 20%, but are not fans of having it automatically added. The total bill for lunch for two people, with one drink each, came to £100.41, including 12.5% service. Had the menu been a little clearer and organised better we may have ordered fewer dishes, especially for a lunch.


After lunch we had a lovely walk around the grounds and the visited kitchen garden where we caught a cute fluffy-tailed visitor (see below) stealing some of the greens! Seeing where the produce you’ve just eaten has come from is a wonderful experience and proves The Pig doesn’t just talk the talk - local really means local.

We recommend booking your table in advance as The Pig can get very busy.
Call 0345 225 9494 or visit https://www.thepighotel.com/on-the-beach/

Our review visit was unannounced and we paid for our meals.

 

Rabbit - not on the menu

 

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