100 – 102 High Street, Odiham, Hook, Hampshire RG29 1LP
Far Right: the bar; Near right: Saddle of Lamb
BEL & THE DRAGON W
hether you are in London, longing for a cosy country weekend, or in Hampshire, hungering for a bit of London vibe, you can find both in Odiham. Bel AND the dragon, if you will. This lovely country inn, dating back as far as 1540, has all the virtues of an idyllic getaway, but on Saturday night, it is totally happening. Packed with a largely London crowd, sans stress, it is definitely the place to be in this neck of the woods. Pre-dinner drinks in the bar were so much fun, we nearly missed dinner! Good thing we didn’t. The food is the star. The place is run by the very charming Alex Davenport Jones. Alex is a hands on kind of manager and seemed to be everywhere at once. Greeting guests at reception, serving drinks at the bar, clearing tables in the restaurant, all the while making everyone feel at home. His laid back, friendly style seems to have infected the entire staff. He kindly pointed out the 12 year old
Reviewed by Michael M Sandwick
whiskey and Damson vodka that were free for the taking. I suspect this policy might have changed after we got through with them! Our room was ideal. Perfectly crooked, exposed beams and lucky for us, the one with the only surviving bit of a wall mural from the 1500’s. Small stacks of books, mostly classics from all different periods are used for decoration throughout the hotel. Made me want to hole up for a week and have a good read! The bed was great and the walk in shower absolutely glorious. I used up my water quota for the month. A few cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and unemptied bins were the only minus. The dining room is a modern extension, providing welcome light after the dark cosiness of the original inn. Simple country kitchen in style with a big splash of flowers in the centre of a buzzing crowd. We spoke with the new chef, Kaz Suzuki about his background. His career
has taken him from Japan to New Zealand, France and finally, Odiham where he has brought elements from all his travels. In fact, our dinner mirrored his history beautifully. Seared Yellowfin Tuna with mustard, wasabi and soy (£12), marinated beetroot & burrata with basil pesto & pine nuts (£9), sea bass with shrimp, pancetta and green beans (£16), marinated & chargrilled fillet steak with violet artichoke & sauce béarnaise (£29) and the pièce de résistance, classic apple tarte tatin with vanilla bean ice cream for 2 (£14). All washed down with a lovely 2012 Pouilly Fuissé (£40). Chef Kaz has taken the concept of gastro pub and added his own personality. He has a great understanding of fish and his tarte tatin was exceptional. He suggested that we finish with an espresso martini. How could we refuse! Cold, sweet, bitter and frothy. I was stirred, not shaken!
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