Muddy Eats: Wild Carrot
Located inside Hampshire's very own Four Seasons Hotel, Wild Carrot is tipped as equal parts foodie to family-friendly. Pass the napkin, we're going in!
To say I was excited to take a nose around Hampshire’s very own Four Seasons Hotel is probably a slight understatement. The Four Seasons brand is synonymous with international glamour and luckily for us, Hampshire is the only other English location for the brand outside of London.
As you head up the sweeping driveaway towards the hotel you can see miles and miles of scenic countryside all around – even on the most drizzly day, it is still beautiful.
The hotel is situated in a historic manor house (Grade I listed, of course!) with a whopping 500 acres surrounding the hotel for countryside walks and pursuits for guests.
The hotel launched its Wild Carrot restaurant back in 2017 with a view of showcasing the very best of local and seasonal produce in dishes that embody British cuisine – with a bit of contemporary flair naturally,
I think my husband put it perfectly that it was probably one of the swishiest places we’ve visited … but it’s also one of the most welcoming. The restaurant is visually stunning. The interior, curated by acclaimed designer Martin Brudnizki, feels quintessentially British with a contemporary edge – pictures of countryside, earthy toned leather furniture, plenty of contrasting wood and metal fixtures as well.
The windows that surround the restaurant are huge, and look out over the green and lush Hampshire countryside. Even though the weather was pants, it still provided a brilliant backdrop for lunch.
Grand surroundings aside, it still felt incredibly chilled out and relaxed for a Saturday. The staff were personable, that perfect mix of clued up and chatty – especially with the kids – while giving you plenty of space to dine in peace.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The Saturday lunch menu, entitled ‘From Farm to Grill’, comprised of a selection of six mains, three sauces and two desserts – no starters. Despite its lean choice, every possible food preference was covered with beef, pork, chicken, lamb, fish and a veggie option on the menu.
For my lunch, I settled on the thick-cut Dingley Dell pork chop (hailing from Suffolk) with red wine jus and my husband chose the rump of Welsh lamb tagliata, also with the red wine jus. All the mains come with a shared plate of sides – buttered new potatoes, sautéed kale and glazed carrots.
Displayed beautifully on earthenware crockery the meat was melt in the mouth delicious. The jus accompaniment was rich with a depth of flavour, working with the dishes rather than overpowering them. The sides were equally as good, the kale was so buttery and garlicky that there was a bit of stand-off between my husband and me about sharing it (i.e. I didn’t want to).
Where the food menu is beautifully streamlined, the drinks menu more than makes up for it. Page upon page of bespoke cocktails (including the Wild Carrot’s very own gin) intertwined with tales about the location, bottles of fine wine and imported beers – truly a thing of beauty.
However, with two kids in tow and a lengthy drive back home I was recommended the Pineapple Florida mocktail and boy, I wasn’t disappointed. Akin to a piña colada sans hangover, I was transported to a white sandy tropical beach for a whole ten seconds before the kids swooped in asking to try it.
Any apprehension I may have had over the smallish dessert menu was short-lived as both options were excellent. Stifling a giggle, I opted for the Tart of the Day which to my absolute joy was pecan (one of my faves and hard to find on these shores) while Mr Muddy dug into a crumble made with apples from the hotel’s very own orchard. Both went down an absolute storm.
Often places are marketed as being child-friendly but Wild Carrot takes that to the next level. Allowing mum and dad to have an excellent gourmet meal while making sure the kids are amused and fed, with minimal meltdowns, is a rare thing to find. Even the bathrooms have wooden steps to the sink for small people to wash their hands when they use the facilities.
The kids’ menu covers your usual beige food groups but in a totally non-beige way -pasta, chicken nuggets, fish fingers all done gourmet style with local produce. My four-year-old felt like a big girl choosing spaghetti bolognese from the menu, while the two-year-old, who is full of energy and needs to wander around aimlessly in strange places, was placated with a trip to pick out pasta and meatballs from the children’s buffet.
The kids’ verdict? The spaghetti was “delicious” and the pasta and meatballs were “very very very yummy’. Kids under the age of 5 also eat free, so you’re not panicking so much about spending out on food that won’t get eaten. Hallelujah!
OUT & ABOUT
If you’re staying at the hotel you have plenty of things to do. There’s the spa, clay pigeon shooting, the aforementioned equestrian centre, tennis courts, cycle hire, croquet… even falconry.
However, if you’re looking to head out and about from the hotel’s grounds you can pop for a spot of historic culture at nearby Odiham Castle which is 12 mins away by car or head into nearby Basingstoke for a mooch around the Milestones Museum.
For boutique shopping then the gorgeous village of Hartley Wintney is only 7 miles away. Definitely stop to check out previous Muddy Award winners MiMi and Cashmere Goose and the fab foodie selection at Organically Speaking.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: A fancy meal where you can actually take the kids. This is probably one of the most family-friendly restaurants I’ve ever come across, and if you’re a big fan of your seasonal produce then this place will more than deliver on all fronts.
Not for: Those who like a lot of choice on their menus. It’s simple, it’s streamlined and its executed brilliantly but there are only a few options. Also, if you’re not a fan of other people’s kids, even though all the kids we saw were on their best behaviour, you might want to miss this during the daytime.
£££: I was actually surprised at how reasonable the prices were. Mains were between £21 and £32 and desserts were £8/£9. Kids under 5 eat for free and most of the kids’ meals were around the £8/£9 mark as well. Drinks were a bit pricier with cocktails ranging between £15 – £20 but were certainly worth the outlay.
Wild Carrot at the Four Seasons Hotel, Dogmersfield Park, Chalky Ln, Hook RG27 8TD. Tel: 01252 853100