If you were to ask me what makes a good Sunday, my response would undoubtedly include walking in the sunshine with friends, to a good pub.
So last weekend sticks in my mind as one of the good ones; great weather, great food, great company. The Royal Exchange in Lindford, Hampshire (less than five miles from the border with Surrey) is part of the Red Mist chain of pubs. Having already visited The Cock Inn, Headley (you can see my review here) and The Wheatsheaf, Farnham (my fave) we knew we were in for something special.
Red Mist pubs claim to be passionate about pubs, which really shines through if you pay one of them a visit. Often lovingly restored, beautifully fitted and thoughtfully decorated - they scream traditional British pub made good. Modern meets classic. Both style and substance. And if you fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie, like me, you'll be relieved to know they haven't compromised on quality. The best of local, sustainable ingredients cooked with flair. And whilst you can find those traditional pub classics - from fish and chips to pie and mash - these are interspersed with an innovative, fresh restaurant-quality menu paired with a drool-worthy specials board.
And the Royal Exchange didn't disappoint. Recently renovated and restored, it feels modern yet classic, with a relaxed vibe and super friendly staff. With the mercury soaring, we opted to sit near the huge bi-folding doors where we were able to relish in the warm breeze whilst enjoying a glass of something cold before settling down to our meals. We started our afternoon with a short walk along the Shipwrights Way; a route totalling fifty miles, running from Bentley near us in Farnham all the way to Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard. Needless to say we tackled just a short stretch of the Way - the 2 mile section from Cradle Lane to Lindford. This takes you almost to the door of the Royal Exchange; making it a perfect stop for lunch.
The food itself was spot on - grilled goat's cheese sitting on a field mushroom with pesto and a tomato sauce for me, and tempura tiger prawns for him. As ever, the whole baked camembert was a complete tease and Best of British sharing board sounded more than a little appealing. This charcuterie board meets ploughmans sees pulled pork, roast beef and chicken liver parfait teamed with breads and pickles for the ultimate carnivorous feast.
Ordering the main was a little more of a challenge. With the Sunday rare roast beef and all the trimmings making eyes at me, I was all a flutter! But the warm weather got the better of me, and I decided to go for something a little lighter, fresher and all together more fitting for a sunny Spring day. Cod wrapped in parma ham on a spring onion and new potato cake with a tomato and caper salsa - it was as delicious as it sounds. Just to tease me, Rich went for the roast beef which I obviously had to try for review purposes. Delicious. Our meal was topped off with a mocha crème brûlée for good measure; two of my favourite things married together in perfect harmony. Equal parts creamy, rich and intense, it was dessert perfection.
The best bit? They have a light fixture made from jelly moulds. Until next time, folks...
The Royal Exchange (website).
Lindford, Borden, GU35 0NX.
Thank you to The Royal Exchange for welcoming me to review their pub. All views my own.