The Royal Exchange
Muddy says: A truly family-friendly pub serving proper comfort food — fish and chips, burgers, sharing platters, that kind of thing. An emphasis on local, seasonal produce elevates it above the crowd.
The Royal Exchange, Lindford is newly refurbished, with a fresh take on our village pub expectations.
Forget the obligatory shire-horse collar, instead equine paraphernalia is re-imagined as quirky wall art.
Elsewhere, think oversized lampshades, freshly painted rafters, skylights, bleached wood and a raspberry-mustard colour scheme. The clashing tartan furnishings might not be to everyone’s taste, but seems far less jarring when the restaurant is full.
The overall effect is cosy-spacious; clever seeing as the actual square footage isn’t huge.
This is no cathedral to all things hip, more a clean, slick space with enough quirk to lift it above the kind of Habitat-by-numbers interior found in many a high-street chain pub.
Diners are relaxed and friendly; lots of smiling multi-generational families having Sunday lunch together.
The menu itself matches the pub’s easy-going vibe and cannily caters for different generations with their very different culinary expectations. Muddy loves the emphasis on local, seasonal food: Hampshire Rhubarb panna cotta anyone?
So for kids, a simple menu: sausage and mash, tomato and cheese pasta, ice-cream, that kind of thing.
For mum, dad and the post-work crowd we have sharing boards, both veggie — hello courgette fritters — and a more carnivorous pulled-pork offering.
The local cheese selection is impressive, mainly sourced from Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex.
For grandparent, and anyone with a hangover, the traditional burger, fish n’ chips and Sunday roast features heavily plus a decent looking sandwich list during the week.
And oh look, the best coffee in Hants is on the menu.
Southampton’s finest and Muddy Awards finalist to boot… Mozzo Coffee.
Any Muddette worth her lemon and ice will appreciate the extensive gin list as well: Winchester’s Twisted Nose, Surrey’s Silent Pool, come on Wednesdays for er, Gin Wednesday and you’ll want to try that cocktail list as well. [Read: Artisan Gin, It’s A Thing]
There’s also an extensive craft beer list with Surrey represented by the fabulous sounding Hogs Back Hopping Hop.
The wine list is a sensible size and I like that it’s divided into categories: ‘Dry, Crisp, Elegant’, ‘Rich, full and robust’ and so on, ideal for those who enjoy wine but whose knowledge falls short of encyclopaedic.
If we’re going to get deep, this approach sums up the whole establishment: appreciating the finer things in an unpretentious and inclusive way.
Most certainly. The staff are friendly and kind, plus there are lots of other children with indulgent parents and grandparents in tow. The space is quite small though with a tiny outdoor patio so if you have several raucous and tired toddlers you may think again.
The kids’ menu is spot-on. Three courses to keep them interested and at the table, plus a menu that includes simple word games and colouring-in activities — so no need to pack the whole toy cupboard.