As a family, we love to eat out. Sometimes for a special treat, sometimes just as a means of release from the fast pace of life. Our girls come with us 99.9% of the time, regardless of whether we are eating in a smart restaurant, or a local 'caff'. This weekend we were invited to test out the family-friendliness of The Sun Inn, a gastro pub near Dummer, just outside Basingstoke in Hampshire. It was a brilliant meal out and I have a special discount offer for Mellow Mummy readers...
Our first impressions were great - it was astonishingly easy to get to, just a minute from the M3, junction 7. In fact, if you've ever driven on the M3 near the A303 turning, you've probably seen the Sun Inn down below you!
Last week The Sun Inn launched their new seasonal menu and we were some of the first people to try it out. I loved the great gastro-pub balance between classic pub dishes (such as fish and chips, pork ribs or beef burger) and more "restauranty" main meals; we visited at lunchtime on Saturday where there was also a range of sandwiches available, and my, did they look good!
I was most impressed by the children's menu which was just a mini version of the main menu. Lara and Holly were both drawn to the idea of mini meatballs for their starter which arrived with a dipping bowl of ketchup. It is a long time since I have seen Holly eat with quite as much enthusiasm - a big hit.
Myself and Mr. B. found it hard to choose a starter, there were so many tempting dishes. In the end I chose a very delicate hand-made butternut squash and sage ravioli served with a red pepper and carrot broth. I though the dish was elegant and executed to a very high standard, though I did find the sage and squash flavours a little lost in the strong red broth (though I wouldn't have sacrificed the pasta... it was perfect). Mr. B. enjoyed his roasted pork belly but was most wowed by the smoked apple puree - both dishes were served with micro-leaves such as rocket which may sound very chef-y but it was quite comforting to see these growing in the greenhouse behind the restaurant after our meal!
For their main course, both Lara and Daddy chose fish and chips. The title does it a dis-service. Beer-battered fish (made with local ales), crushed peas, tartar sauce and the most amazing triple-cooked chips. Lara is a big fan of the triple-cooked chip and finished off every morsel of her food. I would say that the silence from both her, and Daddy during the meal just went to show how much they enjoyed it.
Holly chose a handmade burger from the menu, also served with those crispy, chunky triple-cooked chips. Their children's meals were part of a fixed-price two or three course menu with three courses costing £11.95.
I chose a main course from the A-la-carte menu to really see what all the fuss about head-chef (and landlord) Gordon Stott was all about. My Roasted lamp chump with wild rice, broccoli veloute, buttered curly kale, honey poached figs and star anise reduction was one of the more expensive dishes on the menu (£17.95) and was a flavour combination unlike anything I've ever tried before. I thought the partnership of star-anise with the wild rice and lamb was very clever (and not something I'd have been brave enough to try myself) and the figs paired with lamb is definitely a combo I want to eat again. My lamb was tender and tasty but could have been improved by a bit more colour or caramelisation during cooking.
Our meal was finished off with a selection of Hampshire ice-creams. Mr. B. and I were both a bit too stuffed to really appreciate the stunning dessert menu... I'm now regretting not having tried the "Taste of the Fair Ground" which featured candy floss, popcorn, doughnuts, marshmallows and candy apples.
We really enjoyed our meal at the Sun Inn and felt the dining area was well suited to children with easy access to the toilets or through the small bar to the sizeable garden which features countryside views, large grass areas and an excellent wooden play area. On days when the children weren't in tow, I think we would also have enjoyed sharing a bar meal in the comfy sofa areas inside the Sun Inn.
SPECIAL OFFER: If you book a family meal at The Sun Inn, Dummer between now and the end of October, kids can eat free if you quote Mellow Mummy when booking.
- One free child per one paying adult.
- Please quote 'MELLOW MUMMY' when booking.
- The offer is valid until October 31st 2014.
- Children can eat at any time during restaurant opening times.
- This offer is not valid with any other offer.