Burley Manor in the New Forest National Park is currently offering a three-course lunch with complimentary Prosecco for just £25 – so we headed off for a little midweek indulgence.
This is a special seasonal menu being offered by this relaxed restaurant with rooms, a Grade II Listed manor house dating back to 1852 which was fully refurbished three years ago.
We started our morning with a spot of boutique retail therapy at the village of Lyndhurst and a coffee at The Forage, followed by a short but spectacular drive across the New Forest to the village of Burley with its free-roaming donkeys and iconic ponies. (If you’re travelling at peak tourist times avoid the traffic-logged Lyndhurst and come into the Forest through another route!)
You can see Burley Manor across the fields and it has to be said the sight of the Victorian manor as you wind up the drive is an imposing one. But the ethos of this restaurant is relaxed and informal with food to match – not fine dining and hushed voices.
We were welcomed by friendly staff and offered a drink in the bar with its vast original fireplaces and panoramic windows looking out across the picturesque neighbouring deer sanctuary.
We had seen mixed reviews online so were a little apprehensive about the menu and the special seasonal option with its ‘daily’ pasta and fish dishes was limited (although a broader lunch menu was also available without the offer).
We needn’t have been – the dishes we chose were delicious. Oils and fresh olive bread were followed by fig and Coppa ham carpaccio with roasted caramelised walnuts, then rigatoni with chicken, chorizo and tomato sauce with rocket.
Other starter choices were: coriander, butternut and almond soup; or Mackerel escabeche and for mains: market fish of the day which was plaice; Provencal beef short rib; or Spanish tomato and olive tart. Genuinely great value at just £20 for our two courses and ‘free-flowing’ free fizz (try saying that if you’d had too many of them!)
A dessert would have added only £5 to the cost of the set meal: Amalfi lemon tart with mascarpone sorbet; rose poached and roasted pear; or Valrhona chocolate ravioli and blood orange soup.
If you’re looking for a value-for-money stay, Burley Manor often posts special offers for its rooms and suites – currently two nights for the price of one and a champagne stay for £129. The rooms are inspired by the colours of the Forest, feature bold fabrics and eclectic art and are designed to be relaxing, cosy and comfortable.
Burley Manor is dog-friendly, and has accessible rooms, but has a strict policy on children, so not one for a family stay.
Just a few minutes’ walk takes you to the village of Burley, steeped in generations of tales and traditions of witches, smuggling and dragons. Ponies, donkeys and cattle wind their way through the village itself, following ancient forest tracks used for centuries by commoners and their livestock.
The New Forest National Park stretches across 90,000 acres of ancient forest, moors, heathland and spectacular coastline. Cycling or walking are ideal ways to explore more than 100 miles of tracks through stunning forest scenery and Burley, which has cycle hire in the village, is an excellent base for exploring the Forest or the cities of Bournemouth to the West or Southampton to the East.
If you like a relaxed stay with lots to do one the doorstep, then Burley Manor is one to add to the midweek list.