Could 2013 be the year Londoners are enticed out of town by a rash of new country house openings where the food promises to be really good? While Skye Gyngell works on her restaurant at Heckfield Place in Hampshire, Angela Hartnett's just about to open her country spot.
The Michelin-starred chef's latest venture Hartnett Holder & Co will open at the New Forest hotel Lime Wood in February.
As you might expect for such a prestigious opening, they haven't got any old designer to do up the hotel's dining room prior to Hartnett's arrival. It's being given "an extensive makeover" by Martin Brudnizki - the designer responsible for Corrigan’s, Hix, Scotts etc. At the centre of the room will be an oak bar, topped with Irish green marble, featuring a working wine gantry (we're not quite sure what that means), meat slicer and coffee machine.
As for the food, Hartnett has worked alongside Lime Wood’s Luke Holder to come up with a range of dishes made with locally sourced ingredients with Harnett's magic touch of Italian influences. So starters might include mackerel salad with wild cress and oyster mayonnaise (ethically sourced we're sure) and braised trevisso with golden raisins or wild mushroom tart with horseradish and scorched onions. Sharing dishes could be grilled turbot with brown shrimps and lemon butter while the dessert menu will feature vanilla tart with rum prunes and home made gelato.
Starters will cost from £6.50 - £12.50; main dishes will start at £14 and locals should rejoice at the news that a 45-minute lunch will cost from £15.
"The aim has been to deformalise the restaurant," explains Robin Hutson, Chairman of the Lime Wood Group, "where sitting at the bar in the middle of the room nibbling on arancini and octopus becomes the norm."
Hartnett Holder & Co opens on 11 February at Lime Wood Hotel, Beaulieu Rd, Lyndhurst, Hampshire SO43 7FZ. To make a reservation call 02380 287 167