We didn’t plan on visiting two pigs in two days – honest guv. But the piggy litter have a habit of making you feel like there’s nowhere else you’d rather be.
First up was a Sunday night supper in sunny Southampton. Set in the ACTUAL historic walls surrounding the city, we arrived during the golden hour, when things really couldn’t have looked more inviting. Inside a roaring fireplace beckoned and we snuggled up, glass of English sparkling in hand. We’ve waxed lyrical about the Hambledon English Sparkling previously, but honestly, we’d choose this over most champagne.
The Pig in the Wall describes itself as a deli-bar (only serving dinner until 8pm) so we really weren’t expecting such a substantial feast. We started with a mini ‘fondue’ of sorts, which utilised the local Isle of Wight soft cheese. Similar to that of camembert it had been infused with fragrant rosemary (mimicking the sprigs in the vase on our table), until it was a gooey pot of heaven, to be scooped up with toasted sourdough soldiers. I had to swat away many an interested hand and could feel the looks of envy from across the room. The comfort food continued into our mains, with a heavenly chicken, leek and mushroom pie adorned with a pastry piggy, quietly reminding us who was looking after us this evening. Sausage & mash equally hit the spot which we greedily supplemented with buttered greens, cauliflower cheese, honey roasted parsnips and garlic and rosemary roasted new potatoes. We just about managed to squeeze in an apple & berry crumble, vowing to return the next day for their toasted sourdough selection.
Waking up the next day we had grand plans to venture out for a brisk walk in the nearby New Forest. Ha! The Beast from the East had other plans, and our unprepared soft London bodies felt the cold snap before too long.
After stretching our legs in many a carpark (before bottling it at the last minute and driving on a bit further) we decided to cut our losses and find somewhere warm for lunch. Guess where we ended up – yep, The Pig, Brockenhurst – the original. We obviously hadn’t booked ahead so could only bag a spot in the bar on a squidgy leather sofa (fine with us). Whilst the greenhouse style dining room is undeniably beautiful, we have a soft spot for the bar, with its selection of glassware, cabinets of infused vodka and yet more fireplaces. From there we snacked on all the piggy bits – think charcuterie and croquettes, followed by doorstop wedge sandwiches stuffed with soft cheese, freshly plucked salad and more cured meat. Seriously – unless you can dislocate your jaw, you’re unlikely to be able to eat this without making a complete and utter mess.
Even though each Pig is individual, there are many similarities that neatly tie the properties together – from the fresh herb pots on every table, to the laid back uniform of friendly staff. They’re designed to feel familiar, like you’ve been here before. Which is dangerous, because it’s all too easy to get comfortable and never want to leave.