review by Janine Pulford
Peter and Dawn Cheal, the new owners of The Old Beams at Ibsley are working hard with their family to bring back the inn’s reputation for good food that once stretched far and wide.
Having been closed for nine months, the refurbished premises near Ringwood officially reopened last August and the current manager Michelle McCelland arrived in September.
This family-friendly inn boasts an atmosphere that is lighter and brighter, there are plenty of tables in the bar area, a separate dining/conference conservatory with a dance floor, and a lovely log-effect fire surrounded by easy chairs and sofas. A carvery comes into its own every Sunday and can be booked privately at other times.
I visited with my husband one Monday lunchtime and the place was pleasantly busy.
We sat at a table near to the fire and enjoyed the ambience before tucking into our starters. My homemade honey roasted parsnip soup zinged with a caramelised flavour and arrived with warm bread and butter. It had a wholesome creamy texture and its stunning golden colour came from sweet potato.
In contrast, Nick’s multicoloured grilled pine nut and Mediterranean salad almost popped off the plate. It was full of flavour and texture and complemented by an intense and rich balsamic glaze. The pine nuts were soft and plentiful and there were cherry tomatoes, lettuce, red onion, grated carrot, grated beetroot and rocket in the mix.
Cajun chicken breast served with chips and salad followed for Nick. The chunky chips were golden and fluffy and the Cajun-spiced chicken was succulent and plentiful.
I opted for the five-bean chilli. It arrived with al-dente rice, nachos and cream cheese. It really got me fired up and I had to use the cream cheese as a coolant. Though delicious with a rich tomato sauce, the large portion defeated me.
I also had to be sensible about the dessert and Nick and I shared a tangy lemon cheesecake with raspberry coulis, which was melt in the mouth delicious with a huge and artistic spiral of cream at the side. For me, ice cream would have worked better, but Nick has a bigger appetite and wolfed the cream.
Peter and Dawn have lots of plans for the Inn and will be letting the adjoining cottages. The patio and outdoor area will come into its own in the summer with a marquee, relaxed seating and a children’s play area. Currently there is a quiz night on the first Wednesday of the month. There will be live music every last Friday of the month from February and the Burley and Ringwood Band and Hyde Band will play concerts in the summer. There is scope for private hire of the conservatory restaurant, which seats 60 for all sorts of functions including breakfast meetings and there is plenty of parking.
The Old Beams is a Freehouse and there are draught ciders as well as Amstel Bier, Heinekin, Guinness, Fosters, and Ringwood ales.
After our meal, there was no room for coffee. It wouldn’t surprise me if an “Old Beams’ foodie following” builds rapidly. The diners looked content and there was a general feeling of bonhomie that the pub was “back”. I can see The Old Beams’ Valentine’s meal being popular too.