Centre of attention
Posted: 18th October 2016
Passion, energy and appreciation of local produce have seen The Sun Inn at Dummer earn plenty of accolades and attention in recent years to become one of the most talked-about pubs in Hampshire.
Beautiful South’s Henry Ascoli paid a visit to discover more about the award-winning pub over a candlelit dinner in the restaurant…
After winding our way through Hampshire’s country lanes, with the evening gloom setting in around us, the cosiness and warmth is much welcome as we set foot inside The Sun Inn, shedding our coats as we are led over to a table by the window, bathed in hazy candlelight.
While taking the first sips of drinks, we are offered both the Tasting and A La Carte menus, eventually opting for the latter, having been swayed by some truly mouth-watering options.
Indeed, throughout the menu, head chef and landlord Gordon Stott appears to strike the balanced between creative, contemporary cuisine and traditional pub classics, incorporating local produce wherever possible.
Moreover, affordability is clearly a consideration throughout the menu, with starters beginning at £5 and mains £11 – a pleasant surprise given The Sun Inn’s ‘gastropub’ label. And it seems I am not alone in this judgement, with The Sun Inn not only earning a place in the 2017 Michelin Guide, but also receiving a ‘Bib Gourmand’ – awarded to restaurants which offer both high-quality food and good value for money.
After enjoying a delicious selection of freshly-baked breads with 12-year-old balsamic vinegar and homemade butter, I begin the meal in earnest with pan-fried pigeon breast served with beetroot, pearl barley and truffle jus. This carefully-crafted dish is vibrant in every sense, and packed with flavour – the pigeon tender and light, in contrast to the earthiness of the pearl barley. Across the table, my partner describes the roasted parsnip soup as thick, creamy and sweet, with a strong yet not overpowering flavour.
For the main event, I opt for pan fried fillet of hake served with chard leek, chorizo, rosti potato and mushrooms – another beautifully-presented dish, bursting with flavours of the earth and sea. The crunchy, somewhat salty skin of the hake gives way to light flakes of perfectly-cooked fish which simply fall from the fork – a stark contrast to the powerful chorizo and hearty mushrooms. My partner is also full of praise for the Quarley Farm slow cooked striploin served with winter greens, creamed potato, red wine syrup and truffle jus, describing the steak as rich and succulent, the mashed potato ‘the best she has ever tasted’.
And to finish? As a chocoholic, ‘The Chocolate Bar’ is simply too tempting to resist - dark chocolate ganache, white chocolate fudge, coconut, orange and hazelnuts. Rich, luxurious and a wonderful blend of sweet flavours, this is a dish that leaves you wanting more.
In truth, it really is hard to find fault with The Sun Inn – from the warm and welcoming atmosphere, to the attentive yet relaxed service - and of course the fantastic food.
There are few gastropubs which truly succeed in retaining the character and charm of the original pub, yet The Sun Inn has done just that – all the while showing a desire for consistent quality and creative flair.
If you are looking for quality food, cooked and served beautifully, yet without pretence, then this is your place.
The Sun Inn (Dummer), 01256 397234, www.suninndummer.com