The Chestnut Horse, Easton
Local lifestyle blogger Emily the 'Winchester Insider' shares with us hers and Ted's experience of The Chestnut Horse in Easton.
Those that follow my Instagram know that Easton is one of my favourite places in and around Winchester. I am not sure whether it’s the river, the wildlife, the livestock, the cute chocolate box cottages, the magnificent grand houses or the way the scenery changes with the seasons that I love the most. It’s definitely one of my happy places and there is no moment I enjoy more than watching the sunset on the one of the bridges over the water with Ted after a long day at work.
But of course, being a serious foodie, the fact Easton has a great pub also helps! I discovered the Chestnut Horse with the girls from work one evening about a 6 months ago when we went for a spontaneous trip for a drink and dinner. It’s was obviously a hit because I have been back so many times since with whoever I can gather up to join me.
One rainy Sunday a few weeks ago we indulged in a no expense spared trip to the Chestnut Horse to try the new lunch menu and we were treated to food of such an exceptional standard I wanted to share it so that other people, whether you are a local or a visitor, can enjoy it!
Chef Nathan Holmes has been at the pub for 7 months and despite his very impressive culinary background, he has made sure to keep the pub traditional in its decor making it cozy, local and very unassuming. Whenever we go we are always welcomed by the friendly bar staff who are on hand to serve you drinks and show you to your table.
Normally I make the most of their extensive Winchester Distillery Gin offerings. The distillery, based in Old Alresford, has a gin for all tastes and the guys at the chestnut horse mix it with Fever Tree tonic to make a very tasty, refreshing beverage. If like me you like your bubbles or there for a celebration, the pub stocks Hattingly Valley sparkling wine. When I moved to Winchester I was completely unaware, as I am sure many others will be, of the extensive English sparkling wine movement in the County and after attending a tasting evening at Christmas I became aware of how many vineyards there are around the South Downs...apparently the chalky soil is perfect for the grapes! I am so pleased that the Chestnut Horse, like so many other Winchester restaurants, work closely with these vineyards because their wines really are awesome. However, all this aside, for lunch on that day we chose a very nice bottle of fresh South American, unoaked Chardonnay for a change to complement our meal. When you sit down to look at the menu, the locally sourced drinks theme continues in Nathan’s prominent use of local ingredients.
Every dish has a local connection whether it be Alresford watercress, Laverstoke Mozzarella and black pudding, cured meat from parsonage farm, Chalkstream trout from the River Itchen, Jude’s ice cream or old Winchester potatoes. For someone who is of proud of local produce as I am the menu was an absolute winner. Nathan’s style is not your average pub grub, it’s goes beyond that, with new flavour combinations and a touch of class added to traditional dishes in addition to some more unusual combinations all with a beautifully delicate but rustic presentation! From reading this you may think that it will cost some pennies but with the weekday lunch menu costing just £19 for 3 courses you can’t go wrong!
It’s probably best to let the pictures of the food to do the talking but my absolute favourites of the day were the Parsonage Farm wasabi vodka cured beef with blue cheese with freshly baked bread and truffle butter to start and the Laverstoke Farm black pudding, duck egg and spiced ketchup starter. The black pudding is probably more of a dish in its own right if you fancied a more upmarket hangover cure, it tasted amazing! And who can forget pudding, I have to say I was going to skip pudding but I was persuaded but the chocolate mousse, blood orange, ice cream and but crumb! Very glad I did, where would we be without chocolate in life!
Like I said I wanted to share Nathan’s passion for food and the whole experience you get at the chestnut horse so others can experience it as well. Of course, an absolute plus point is that dogs are allowed in sort of the restaurant and so enjoying a lovely long walk followed by lunch here is made all that bit better. I can’t wait for the summer to come, the sun to start shining and see what Nathan has up his sleeve for some al fresco dining!