UPDATE 30/08/2016: I returned to the Thomas Lord today whilst out for a country walk with my sister. We sat in the garden at the rear which is very neatly kept. I had pulled pork in a brioche bun with onion rings and a side of chips as an extra which we shared. The onion rings were very bland, as was the pulled pork and we had to add salt to the chips as they were lacking in flavour too, not the best chips I hasten to add. I noticed my sister’s sandwich was made with an ‘almost’ end piece (just a thin shaving taken off it to make it not the end piece) and perhaps she’s not fussy but I would not have liked it. Desserts were a little odd sounding meaning we weren’t really sure what to expect and at £8 we thought it a little expensive especially for lunchtime, so we popped across the road to Cuppacheeno behind the village shop (used to be Springs) for a very nice cake and coffee each which came to half the price. Would I return? Hmm, I wouldn’t set out to but if someone invited me then perhaps I would.
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I visited The Thomas Lord in West Meon, Hampshire a few weeks ago just for a night-cap, after we had been to Springs Cafe across the road for a pop-up Indian evening – which we enjoyed very much – and the menu looked rather good, so I returned with Helen and my two Italian friends, Catia and Loretta one Friday evening.
The interior is very nice, with little candles placed upon the tables and on the window sills creating a lovely warm, cosy glow. Outside, to the rear of the pub is a large garden which also looked very nice with plenty of tables and also a couple at the front of the pub. Lots of parking available too.
There were two menus, a special menu with 2 courses for £16 and 3 for £20. The À la carte was quite a bit more expensive of course, but it had a lot more choices and ones that I liked.
The cauliflower panna cotta was something different. A thick and smooth panna cotta – which looked just like the dessert kind but tasting of cauliflower, of course. Extremely thin shaved raw pieces of cauliflower decorated the dish and also a few which were like the vegetable crisps you can buy.
Blobs of cauliflower purée, truffle dressing, watercress and walnuts were all dotted on the wooden server and it was superbly presented.
Helen had the grilled mackerel, beetroot, horseradish, apple, gooseberry jelly and oats starter from the À la carte and her main dish and dessert from the specials menu.
The pork belly was very nice and sandwiched between it was black pudding, which gave it an added spicyness. The pork was rather salty however and not terribly hot. Nor was the crackling crispy which is a shame as I love crispy crackling. The fillet of pork was sliced and very tender indeed. Blobs of apple purée, local summer truffles and candied fennel were also on the plate.
The candied fennel was very nice, I do quite like it and had some recently at The Royal Oak in East Lavant. Lovely bright green broad beans and peas which gave the dish added colour were served, along with just the right amount of jus. The others shared a couple of portions of chips, one bowl of ‘hand-cut’ chips which were very tasty and another of truffle & parmesan fries which were a little salty.
My dessert was ‘warm chocolate mousse, chocolate tuille, aerated chocolate, brownie, salt caramel, buttermilk ice-cream. The aerated chocolate pieces were my favourite. These were similar to an Aero chocolate bar – but a lot nicer – and were a rich dark chocolate, creamy and smooth which melted really nicely. The crisp roll of chocolate – the tuille, I guess – which housed the mousse was wafer thin and the mousse within was slightly warm, so had melted making it a bit like a sauce.
There were thin slices of what I think were meringue pieces – or was this the tuille? Blobs of salt caramel were dotted on the plate and the brownie was crumbled, like soil. The buttermilk ice-cream was a little disappointing as it was quite bland and didn’t really taste of much at all.
Of course I had to try a little of Helen’s – and she mine. The almond sponge was light and fresh and the cherry sorbet was a lovely deep rich colour and tasted divine. Two whole sour cherries, stalks still intact decorated this dessert. The caramelised crisp tuile was my favourite, tasting of fennel again.
Loretta’s bay leaf panna cotta, verbena granita, with rapeseed shortbread was okay, but neither of us liked the shortbread. It stuck to the roof of our mouths and didn’t melt like a normal shortbread should do. It was also a little too thick for our liking.
I had a nice glass of voignier with my main meal and a bottle of tap water was on the table. As always I had an espresso after my dessert – no petit fours unfortunately. Definitely a place to visit, the staff were friendly and attentive and although I’ve moaned about two or three things, they are very minor and it still warrants a return visit. And to show you just how good they are, they have several awards including for the last two years, two AA rosettes, and are also listed in the Michelin red guide. They are part of the Upham Group, a pub and brewery company. Geoff, my husband likes their beers. As for Thomas Lord, he was an English first class cricketer who founded Lord’s Cricket ground and retired to West Meon where he died and is buried in the village church yard.
West Meon is a lovely little country rural village suitable for a walk or cycle ride. I regularly cycle there and have elevenses at Springs Cafe. Two or three miles along the road is the country village of East Meon, where there is another excellent pub for grub, Ye Olde George Inn, which we have dined at on numerous occasions over the years with friends and family.
Living life, loving cake