Hotel TerraVina is a gem. It’s a well-appointed house – well, it seems like someone’s home (read the accommodation review here). A line of colourful wellies in the hall welcomes the arriving guests. The rooms are individually designed and the beds are the best I have ever slept on! One might not want to leave one’s private idyll but that would be a shame, as dinner awaits, and a very fine one, too.
Owners Gerard Basset and his wife Nina purchased the hotel, conveniently close to Southampton, in early 2007. This is recognised far and wide as a Wine Connoisseurs’ Hotel in the New Forest, and there are plenty of associations with wine here – starting with Gerard himself.
Gerard Basset OBE is one of the world’s most respected sommeliers (‘World’s Best Sommelier 2010’) so it’s natural that he would want fine vintages at the forefront of Hotel TerraVina’s attractions, of which there are many. There are wine events at the hotel including tutored wine tastings and wine dinners to draw the enthusiast. Exclusive wine gift boxes, signed by Gerard, are a very classy gift and they are available from the hotel. There are bespoke wine glasses for the budding sommelier and they are truly unique and designed by Gerard himself.
Food is a huge element of any break away and the restaurant mirrors the standard of the wine list. The bar leads onto the dining area with views over the well-established garden. Banquettes as well as tables for couples are spaced for either conviviality or privacy. It isn’t a huge restaurant and it’s all the better for that. It has intimate charm and contemporary grace with a hint of ‘across the Pond’.
New Forest suppliers
Their love of California wine country and its restaurants inspired Nina to design a place that captured the ambiance of those stylish corners. They use fresh, free-range and organic produce from local New Forest suppliers wherever possible, so the menu changes with the seasons. This is a ‘destination’ rather than a culinary pit-stop and that changing bill of fare will encourage regulars.
We enjoyed starters of Salt-cured Hake with Anchovy beignets and, keeping with the piscatorial theme, Tartare of Salmon with egg yolk, crème fraiche and capers. Both dishes were light and perfect for that warm evening. Great flair here.
Calves Liver with fondant potatoes, pickled cabbage, shallots and beetroot was my guest’s choice of main course. The poor guy doesn’t get liver at home so he enjoys this flavourful meat whenever it’s on a restaurant menu. He pronounced this to be tender, rich and there was plenty of it – all well up to his raised epicurean expectations.
Nuggets of sweetbreads
Roasted Lamb with sweetbreads, onion soubise (a classic onion sauce) and spring veg was my main course. The lamb was perfectly cooked and presented with those nuggets of sweetbreads – a cut of the animal which is, so sadly, often overlooked. They are mild and melting, and complemented the lamb very well. Do try these when you find them on menus. Good to see a bit of nose-to-tail eating here, although plenty of options for those who are not so keen to try. The restaurant isn’t after making any moral statement but it does make full use of local produce and introduces diners to dishes they might not have had the chance to try before.
Raspberry and mint parfait was our dessert. This was a beautiful plate of pink sweetness with a counterpoint of minty freshness. Congratulations to the pastry chef on his/her seasonal showcase. It reflected the evident ethos of Hotel TerraVina – quality in every regard. The wine list is outstanding, the food is a triumph and the beds should be No.1 in The Good Mattress Guide (I am joking, dear reader, that book won’t hit bookshops till I write it!). This hotel will tick every box for any discerning guest and there can be no finer accolade than that.
174 Woodlands Road
Phone: +44 (0)2380 293 784
Fax: +44 (0)23 80 293 627
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018