Cambium is the New Forest inspired eatery located at Careys Manor Hotel. Muddy's Robyn whizzed off to Brockenhurst to eat her way through the menu.
SCOFF & QUAFF
First off, they definitely know their drinks at Cambium. The bartender was extremely knowledgeable on his mixology and we were treated to a creation of his own design while we waited for our table. Major brownie points in my book.
The menu is compact while still being thorough – offering a range of dishes for all tastes and preferences. Vegan options were available and stayed away from the usual risotto repertoire you sometimes see, and for omnivores, there were multiple fish and game options available, including a rabbit pappardelle starter and smoked venison haunch main.
Having heard good things about the grill menu I plumped for the 28-day aged rib-eye steak (above), accompanied by Portobello mushrooms and hand-cut chips (£25) with a mixed leaf side salad (£4) pictured below. You can tell a lot about a place by their steak and mine was cooked exactly how I requested and didn’t have an inch of gristle or toughness.
There was also a huge list of sauces available to go with my steak, each coming with an additional cost (£2.50 – £4) but I felt confident enough to go without, though the Olive Seaweed Tapenade did sound rather tempting. The side salad came out looking a lot swishier than I had envisioned and had a wonderfully light dressing.
My other half perused the specials before selecting a salt and chilli squid (above), which looked really rather good an had great texture (no rubber-bandiness here) and just the right amount of heat and seasoning.
To finish we decided to share a cheeseboard, consisting of five pieces of cheese along with quince membrillo, celery, crackers, grapes (£15pp). There was a good selection of both local, and slightly further afield cheeses including Tunworth from nearby Basingstoke and a sheep’s milk Spenwood from up the road in Berkshire. We ate it so quickly I didn’t get a chance to snap it, oops!
Wine here is all about the English vineyards with no less than three fizzes from over the border in Sussex and wines from Kent, Surrey and Berkshire as well.
OUT & ABOUT
If you don’t fancy straying too far from the hotel then I certainly recommend some R&R at the Muddy Award-winning SenSpa at the hotel. The Thai-themed retreat boasts fitness classes, hydrotherapy facilities and an indoor pool for spending a little ‘me-time’ on yourself.
For local foodie spots then either a trip to Burley’s famed fudge shop or Beaulieu’s Chocolate Studio are a must-visit, and if you’re in search of culture the St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery is a couple of miles away in Lyndhurst. Add to that the miles and miles of rolling New Forest National Park for walking, cycling and horse-riding, then you’ll be hard-pressed to run out of things to see and do while here.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those looking to celebrate all things English countryside with their food and decor. It’s perfect for taking your parents out for a treat or a low-key romantic meal for two.
Not for: Leave the little ones at home for this one as the restaurant has a no under 8s policy. Also if you like a busy buzzy cosmopolitan vibe you’ll probably not find what you’re looking for here.
The Damage: On the richer side of mid-priced with starters at around £10, mains at £20ish mark and puds around £8. Also, the temptation to drink all the fab cocktails and English wines could certainly push up the bill a touch. If you’re on the hunt for a bargain the restaurant is launching its Thursday Supper Club this month with 50% off. Chose from three courses and a glass of wine for just £22.50 (normally £45) or two courses and a glass of wine for £18.50 (normally £37). Bargain!