I wouldn’t say that I am a food snob, however, who doesn’t enjoy the ambiance and luxury of a night of gastronomic indulgence every once in a while?
This evening our host was Cambium at Careys Manor. Nestled in the heart of the New Forest, in the quiet village of Brockenhurst, this newly opened restaurant prides itself on delivering classic British cuisine, executed with elegance, gentility and a striking twist.
We were greeted at the bar and spoilt for choice as far as pre dinner aperitifs was concerned, however upon the recommendation of the bar tender, we were more than happy to experience our first taste of English potato vodka from the Chase Distillery – the perfect welcome!
Having had the opportunity to peruse the menu (choices are 2 or 3 courses from the a la carte menu or a 6 course tasting menu) we were escorted into the dining hall.
The restaurant interior cleverly and effortlessly combines the rustic nature of the forest with the clean, elegant décor you would expect from a Michelin Star fine dining restaurant, as hues of moss and oak, accompany luxurious cream and gold.
Unlike many restaurants where the number of covers seems to be the primary focus, diners at Cambium are very much given their own space, with plush gold booth style seating around elegant dark oak tables, reflecting the restaurants New Forest surroundings.
As far as the food is concerned, we were very impressed.
As an extra bonus tonight, and before our chosen starters were presented, all diners were treated to a stunning complimentary pea and yogurt consommé, that not only looked and tasted divine, but also whisked us back to the flavours of our childhood, when peas were eaten straight from the pod!
Tonight we were dining from the a la carte menu and for our starters we chose the “Crab” and the “Asparagus”. The asparagus veloute was light yet creamy, with the crispy hens egg adding a rich luxury to the dish. The crab with wasabi was topped with a thin disk of cucumber jelly with a grating of frozen apple on top, which looked amazing and was delicious, and certainly set high standards for the rest of the meal.
For our main courses, we chose the “Beef” and the “Lamb”. The chef recommended the meat be cooked a certain way, and although we were offered the meat cooked to our liking, we trusted the chef’s recommendation and were not disappointed. It’s not often that a fillet steak is overshadowed in a dish, however the slow braised beef cheek that accompanied the fillet was heavenly, and simply melted in the mouth. The Lamb loin and shoulder similarly demonstrated just how differently two cuts of meat can taste, and how with the clever combination of goats cheese, sweet breads and real honeycomb, it can become so tasty! The melting honeycomb was a stroke of genius that I’ve personally never experienced before!
The sommelier on the night selected a glass of wine for each of us to accompany our main meals, and it was the perfect combination.
It didn’t take much to tempt us into seeing the Dessert Menu and once again, we were spoilt for choice with regard to the selection and it was a pity we could only have one each.
We chose the “Panna Cotta” and the “Dark Chocolate”. Both dishes were a visual work of art. The panna cotta was light and creamy, coupled with ginger ice cream, gingerbread crumb and poached rhubarb. The dark chocolate pave, with caramelised bananas, and honey and thyme ice cream, was a chocoholics dream desert – rich, indulgent and the perfect finish to a stunning evenings dining.
Paul Peters, Cambium’s Executive Chef, has created a stunning menu that presents the flavours of the New Forest in the most creative way – not only do his dishes look exquisite but they are an absolute delight to the taste buds. Partner this winning combination, with the restaurant’s design, ambience and the most professionally attentive waiting staff, and it becomes clear that Cambium is a rare gem in the heart of the New Forest.
I look forward to returning and sampling the tasting menu in the near future!
To book a table at Cambium please call 01590 623551 or click here.