Well, this is Havenly….
Attention all you relaxed dining fans! It's all about spectacular seafood, marvellous marina views and family-friendly vibes at The Haven, Lymington.
If you’re from the New Forest you’ll know The Haven and if you don’t then you certainly need to. This place is popular among locals, with its excellent roster of local seasonal seafood, family-friendly atmosphere and an enviable location overlooking Lymington Yacht Haven.
This is a place where you can enjoy a leisurely weekend brunch with your whole family or switch it up for a full evening out that won’t break the bank. And while many would assume this is the place to go on a sunny Summer’s day, the floor-to-ceiling windows are perfect for gazing out over stormy waters in the depths of Winter with a hot chocolate as well.
It was a Friday lunchtime when I swung by and met some girlfriends, catching an hour or so before the impending school pick-up. The sun was beaming through those whoppingly large windows and the restaurant was buzzing and busy without feeling like we were crammed in like sardines.
The place itself is extremely family-friendly and as a testament to that our crew had a 4-year old in tow. On arrival, the staff instantly greeted them with crayons, a kids menu and book to read. Small person amused sans mobile device, we were all able to relax and talk without Peppa Pig bleating at us in the background.
One thing that really strikes me about The Haven is that the clientele doesn’t really fit into a specific box. Looking around the dining room you could see out-of-towners who had stumbled upon the gem in search of the famous Dressed Crab, people who had just come off their yachts moored outside and even people conducting casual business meetings talking shop with coffee and a slice of cake. You could take any group of people here, of any age group and they’d be catered to perfectly.
One real highlight of this place is the rooftop terrace. With a view over the Solent, right over to the Wight, this is a place that leisurely lunches by the sea are made for. Utter bliss.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Seafood fans, this is TOTALLY up your street. As well as the aforementioned Dressed Crab, there’s sharing platters filled with salmon, Poole Bay Oysters and lots of other pescatarian delights. As we sipped glasses of prosecco (hey, it was Friday after all!) my dining companions and I shared a starter of Haven Mussels with white wine and cream sauce, served with crusty bread and a Rosary Goat’s Cheese and Pear salad.
Mussels are a total classic and the portion served here was definitely top-notch quality. Big meaty mussels (and plenty of them as well), with a sauce even the French would have approved of – c’était magnifique. The goats cheese and roasted pear salad came beautifully presented and was definitely one of those dishes that you enjoy immensely, but also feel slightly virtuous at the same time.
To follow I went with one of the specials, a King Prawn Risotto complete with chorizo and tomato. Along with decent portion size, the flavours of the dish worked beautifully together, the tomato and chorizo’s richness really coming through. Others on the table ordered the signature burger with bacon served in a pretzel bun with truffle aioli and Indonesian fish curry. Although seafood is a big draw here, there’s enough on the menu to provide a good amount of choice to people with varying tastes and dietary preferences.
Tempted by the dessert menu we decided to share a Coffee Gelato, the perfect little pick me up to end the meal on but was scoffed too quick to get a photo. Oops!
OUT & ABOUT
Either before or after eating here, a walk along the Sea Wall is a must. Be it the height of Summer or blowing a gale, the views and sea air will build up an appetite or work off a meal for sure.
A short walk away takes you into the town of Lymington which has a good range of high-end high street brands and local indie boutiques. For those in need of retail therapy check out spots such as Starboard Home for home bits and bobs, and Stanwells for designer togs. Also, if you need a bit of a trim Jack & The Wolfe salon is a must-visit as well.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
GOOD FOR: Relaxed dining with the family and a chance to enjoy some excellent local seafood. Also the breakfast here is held in very high regard, and the view to go with a morning coffee is unrivalled.
NOT FOR: Something super formal and extra glam. The laidback atmosphere here is not the place to trot your finest frock.
THE DAMAGE: £ – Excellent value for money. There’s a 3-course set menu for under £20, starters are mostly under £11 and mains hover around the £18 mark.
The Haven, King’s Saltern Rd, Lymington SO41 3QD. Tel: 01590 679971