Back to basics, good honest food at The Elm Tree
There’s no avoiding it – Autumn is well and truly here. But instead of grumbling about the nights drawing in, diners in Ringwood are taking the opportunity to celebrate all that is best about classic British pub food.
The Elm Tree, on Highfield Road, has embraced the change of the seasons by introducing a new menu offering hearty, warming, traditional pub food.
The menu is proving so popular, I was delighted to accept an invitation from manager Phil Robertson to try out the dishes created by his new chef.
The recent trend towards bistro style food sometimes sees the old favourites like pies, battered fish and even ham, egg and chips, disappear from pub menus. My children have always enjoyed classic British food and when cooking a family meal, I generally go for shepherd’s pie, gammon, or chicken.
So when I arrived at The Elm Tree with my daughter Hannah, we were looking forward to tucking into some traditional food.
The Elm Tree is a wonderful thatched country pub with wooden beams and a cosy interior. With welcoming smiles from Phil and his team, we were shown to our table in the restaurant, which was virtually full. Then we were faced with the dilemma of what to order. With a choice including scampi and chips, steak and ale pie with vegetables and mash or chips and half a roast chicken we were struggling to decide. There was also a selection from the grill including beef or pork burger, chicken fajitas and sirloin steak. And lastly the chef’s specials – chilli, curry and even liver and bacon.
In the end Hannah couldn’t resist the sausage and mash which was served with onion gravy and freshly cooked kale and mange tout. Her empty plate was proof of how much she enjoyed the delicious flavours.
I chose Halloumi, mushroom and roasted pepper burger with sweet potato fries – not necessarily traditional pub food, but a modern twist on the everpopular burger. After I’d ordered I saw the meals arrive for the couple at the table next to us. They’d both gone for the rack of ribs and I was tempted to alter my choice, but pleased I didn’t. My veggie burger was superb. Served with a fresh salad, the dish was colourful and mouthwatering. I could have had chips but was pleased I’d gone for the sweet potato fries, which were beautifully crisp.
The selection of desserts was just as challenging when it came to making a decision. Unfortunately there was no treacle tart left, Hannah’s favourite, so she chose New York cheesecake and honeycomb ice cream while I went for the fruits of the forest crème brulee with lime shortbread. Two empty bowls were testimony to the quality of the food. To be honest, we were both so full that we shouldn’t have eaten so much dessert but neither of us wanted to miss out on such lovely food.
We were both relieved we’d decided not to have a starter – tempting though it had been. BBQ wings, soup and chilli and garlic prawns will have to wait until our next visit.
The Elm Tree serves Greene King beers, along with a wide selection of ciders, lagers, spirits and wines – and of course, soft drinks. We both had a chilled glass of medium rose wine which was the perfect accompaniment to our meals.
Amy our waitress was friendly and attentive throughout, again extending that welcome that we felt as soon as we arrived.
The Elm Tree was especially busy the night we dined. As well as being a Saturday evening, there were two functions going on meaning the kitchen was also serving food for a wedding party and birthday celebrations. However our meals were not affected at all and the service couldn’t have been better.
The pub serves food Monday to Saturday, from noon–9.30pm and on Sunday from noon–8pm. The restaurant seats 50 and meals can also be served in the bar area. There are special menus, including the popular pizza and a pint for £9.95 on Saturdays, and two steaks and a bottle of wine for £25 on Thursdays.
Classic pub food has been welcomed back at The Elm Tree by customers, but there is still plenty of choice for those wanting something a bit different. And with a kids’ menu as well, there’s something for all the family.
Phil explained that a lot of his customers are regulars. They clearly know a good thing when they see it. Hannah and I were delighted to be let into the secret and discover how The Elm Tree lives up to its claims to be a ‘Dining pub with back to basics, good honest food’.