This was the first time I had been to The Old Beams in Ibsley, and it certainly won’t be the last.
I visited with my husband one Tuesday evening just before Christmas. The pub and restaurant were beautifully decorated inside and out and a roaring fire in the middle of the bar area set the tone for a cosy and pleasant evening.
We were met by owner- manager Simon Ball – the son-in-law of owner Peter Cheall – who told us he has been at the helm for the past few months. Seeing him stop to chat with many of the customers, it’s clear he is a popular face behind the bar.
We decided to sit in the bar so we could enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the pub, and the warmth from the fire. The alternative was the restaurant area, designed for more formal dining, and beautifully decorated. Simon told us that the decorations are changed according to the season and the room, which seats 60, is available for private hire and particularly lends itself to bookings for weddings or parties.
Perusing the menu, I was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of options I could choose from – I’m notoriously difficult to feed given that I’m vegetarian and have allergies, so having such a choice was a treat.
I started with the homemade leek and potato soup served with warm bread from the specials board while Luke had king prawns in garlic butter. Mine was delicious and would have made a hearty lunch option too. Luke loved the garlicky sauce on his prawns.
The main courses on offer were traditional pub fare, with options such as fish and chips, sausage and mash, lasagne, burgers, steak and chips and chilli. Vegetarians are very much catered for, with choices including risotto, nut loaf, vegetable pie and mac’n’cheese. The chefs source the majority of the ingredients locally to guarantee freshness and quality.
I struggled to choose between the chana masala and the falafel burger, and plumped for the burger in the end. Served with chips and salad, it was the right side of spicy, and very generous in its portion.
Luke opted for plaice, which was the fish of the day. It was served with vegetables and the chef was happy to replace the new potatoes with mash. Luke said it was beautifully cooked and very fresh (as a fisherman, he is very picky about his fish, so this was high praise indeed). We were both feeling full after our mains so decided to share a dessert. We chose the chocolate orange cheesecake served with vanilla ice cream and, although I was only planning to have a taste, I ended up eating far more than I’d intended. For a dish that tasted so rich, it was surprisingly light and moreish.
Given it was a week night, I chose a soft drink, while Luke had a pint of Moretti. There is also a wide selection of lagers, local ales, speciality gins and vodkas and red and white wines, as well as a coffee and a selection of teas.
Before we left, Simon told us of his plans for the pub. An outdoor, heated and covered area, which was used as an alpine bar in the run up to Christmas, would be available throughout the rest of the winter should the Covid situation mean outdoor dining is preferable. Another seated area will come into its own as the weather turns warmer, with a pizza oven and outdoor kitchen being installed.
He is also looking to run cabaret tea dances on weekday afternoons and there are also theme nights and monthly live acts.
Children and dogs are welcome, and there is plenty of parking. We look forward to visiting again.
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