Keith Miller opinions Cambium, Hampshire: ‘the servers jogged my memory of a Victoria Wooden sketch’
Cambium, Carey’s Manor Resort, Lyndhurst Rd, Brockenhurst, Hants
Contact: 01590 623551; Careysmanor.com/cambium.html
Value: dinner for 2 £120
I’ve all the time been keen on moss. It’s my Celtic blood, I suppose. It all the time appears so clear. Within the First World Conflict, they used it to decorate wounds after they ran out of bandages.
As a baby, trudging throughout the New Forest a number of yards behind my binocular-toting father, I’d seize a wodge of it and experience its softness and greenness, detached to the forest’s extra apparent charms – the uncooked heathland, the brooding bushes, the kestrels rollercoastering overhead, the incurious ponies, even an occasional deer, shocked into stillness – to the exasperation of the previous man. I believe I needed to be discouraged from sucking it. There’s not a lot level doing that except you’re Bear Grylls.
So after I noticed the big mossy log that serves as a centrepiece to the eating room at Cambium, it triggered highly effective reminiscences and historical imaginings – of Seventies Hampshire, and the final days of the druids, and absent buddies.
Brockenhurst is an enormous village within the forest, round which upscale faux-rustic lodges cluster. Cambium is one among numerous eating places hooked up to Carey’s Manor, a spa of the type James Bond could be despatched to for a spot of R&R, solely to find that the swarthy stranger within the sauna wasn’t a loss adjuster from Bournemouth, however a dastardly agent of SMERSH with a warhead in his biro.
The menus at Cambium regarded promising: fancy however not fancy-schmancy; conscientious about provenance (there’s a menu that they declare is solely sourced from throughout the forest boundaries); conventional with the odd fashionable contact.
But the massive query with eating places in lodges is whether or not they can forge an id of their very own. Cambium is clearly conceived as a response to the encompassing woodland. What this meant in follow was a smallish, creamy-beigey room, encircled by plushly upholstered cubicles and sparsely ornamented with woody paraphernalia. That moss-covered log (which was every thing I’d hoped it might be) was perched athwart a pair of wobbly tables.
A number of tree trunks, flayed, scrubbed and swathed in pretend foliage, stood wanly in corners like Arthurian knights beneath a spell. Lighting was a number of levels too laborious, the environment a shade extra formal than the charming however faintly haphazard service warranted.
Suntil, we weren’t alone, even on a bitterly chilly midweek night. The opposite diners appeared contented sufficient, although possibly they have been simply relieved to be completed with their colonic irrigation for the day. We ordered one “Market menu” – the New Forest one – and three programs from the carte. All the things was somewhat plainer, extra ingredient-led, than the pattern menus on the web site, with their beef 3 ways and touches of spice – no unhealthy factor, because it turned out.
An amuse arrived: somewhat cup of “onion velouté”, gentle and aerated, with somewhat acidity and a few toasted seeds on prime supplying crunch. Cured salmon was agency and bouncy, served with a crisp and savagely chilly slice of apple and some drops of apple purée, translucent and barely gelatinous. A beef cheek carpaccio with a quail’s egg was tender and deep-flavoured.
Our three servers weren’t something however solely competent, however one thing about the way in which they moved dropped at thoughts a Victoria Wooden sketch. They’d a shtick whereby they arrived in pairs with two plates on a tray, which have been then transferred to the desk with a vaguely deranged sense of ceremony. I used to be addressed mirthfully within the third individual, as Sir.