Royal Exchange, Lindford
A friendly inn on the Hampshire/Surrey border serving local pub nosh.
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.
Fellow diners were relaxed and friendly; lots of smiling multi-generational families having Sunday lunch together.
Firstly, kudos for the understated use of local, seasonal ingredients and drinks: competitors, take note.
The menu itself matches the pub’s easy-going vibe and cannily caters for different generations with their very different culinary expectations.
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.
To the food.
Gender stereotypes not withstanding, Mr Muddy was a happy man: the portions are big.
This is proper, freshly cooked pub-grub.
I was full after my starter, Battered Cod Cheeks: perfect-crunch on the outside, firm flesh on the inside; a shame that the salad of rocket leaves was over dressed.
No complaints from Mr Muddy with his grilled tiger prawn and Ceaser salad, although the presentation was a little anaemic — par of the course with a Caeser though, it has to be said.
Sometimes the only way is burger and brioche and so it was for me on this Sunday afternoon.
Juicy meat, gooey cheese, crisp chips — as I said, proper pub grub and the same goes for Mr Muddy ‘s roast beef with all the trimmings, he still smiles at the thought of it.
Pudding-wise, we failed in our duties; but all the usuals were present, correct, fine and dandy — sticky toffee pudding, chocolate brownie, plus a touch of quirk from the panna cotta: tart Hampshire rhubarb slicing the Italian classic’s crema sweetness.
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. Friendly, kind staff, lots of other children and indulgent parents and grandparents. 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’ food 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 — a huge bonus for this mum who, eight years into parenting, still forgets to bring any form of child-friendly distraction when eating out.
Not a strong point I’ll be honest.
We’re right on a busy main road with a slightly suburban feel, but once you’re parked and inside this becomes irrelevant. As mentioned the outside patio is tiny and not child-friendly so possibly not a venue for the heat of high summer.
OUT & ABOUT
The Shipwrights Way is a famous walk that runs nearby. Timber was once transported along here from the forests of North Hampshire down to the shipyards on the coast.
You could walk to meet the path, but expect a good fifteen minutes amble along busy roads first, not ideal with children in tow so we decided to drive.
Turn right from the pub car park onto the main Lindford Road, then take the first right onto Broxhead Farm Road.
Then turn into Broxhead cricket club, signed ‘The Shipwright’s Way’.
We did park here with no problems, but it’s not a public car park. We then went for an easy, buggy-friendly walk through woodland and out onto Broxhead common.
Further afield, there is the naturalist Gilbert White’s House at Selborne with a large garden, perfect for hide-and-seek and craft activities organised for half-terms and holidays.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
A friendly inn, serving proper pub nosh — the menu’s use of local, seasonal ingredients elevates it above the crowd.
Good for: Families, all generations are catered for, and lovers of quality, locally produced pub food, craft beer and gin. This would be a great venue for a relaxed but grown-up, girls night-out.
Not for: Refined ladies who lunch. Those looking for sophisticated, restaurant fare or families looking for ample space for their kids to let off steam.
The Damage: Reasonable seeing as we’re this close to Surrey’s banker belt. Very generous starters around £6, sharing platters average at £14 and mains around £15. Children’s menu: £7.50 for two courses, £9.95 for three.
The Royal Exchange, Liphook Road, Landlord, Bordon, GU35 0NX; 01420 488118