Open Mon–Thu 8am–11pm; Fri–Sat 8am–midnight; Sun midday–11pm
This pub has undergone several image and name changes with its previous owners – the couple next to us had visited three times previously and remarked on the transformation from the ‘dingy room with a pool table’ to the light, airy and comfortable dining area that now exists. The waitress suggested that The Hampshire Hog was ‘third time lucky.’
This transformation is thanks to Abigail Osborne and Tamsin Olivier, who have brought with them many members of their team from The Engineer – their previous pub of seventeen years in Primrose Hill. The team is led by general manager, Ed Francis, who ran The Engineer for two and a half years and previously worked at The Botanist on Sloane Square. The kitchen is headed up by Christopher Lyon, who has a stellar CV of positions, both in his native Brisbane and here in London.
The reasonable sized dining room is filled to the brim with tables and seats. We liked the touch of the pews that lined the long tables and the intentionally mismatched cutlery and chairs. The light colour palette and soft furnishings add to the warming, country house feel. There’s also a large window through to the kitchen, which makes for an interesting feature.
It was mainly couples dining with us on our Saturday night visit, along with a couple of small groups of friends in the large beer garden and a work-colleague party dining merrily in the pews.
While we perused the menu, our bread came with a side of oils and pot of delicious aioli. Our waiter, Sebastien, kindly pointed out a couple of unusual terms on the menu (such as kipflers – a type of mashed potato) and wholeheartedly agreed with all of the Other Half’s menu choices, as they were his favourites too.
His moreish slow-cooked spiced lamb on toast (£7.50) with pomegranate and spiced nuts, attracted glances from the man sitting beside us, who eventually asked what the dish was so that he could order it for himself. My grilled Secretts Farm asparagus (£8.50) was warm and succulent, as was the morcilla (a soft latin american version of black pudding) that accompanied it. Topped off with a beautifully poached egg and whole segments of grapefruit to balance the dish and refresh the palette.
The O’shea’s organic sirloin steak (£21) rendered him speechless for some time – not only was the portion immense, but it was beautifully cooked and full of flavour. My roast chorizo-stuffed chicken breast (£16) was succulent with a crisp skin. The chorizo, packed with flavour and spilling out of the succulent chicken, was complimented by minted peas and a smooth red pepper puree.
We almost didn’t make it to dessert, but the temptation of a chocolate fondant (£6.50) and an Eton mess (£6) was too much to resist. The fondant was well worth the mandatory 12 minute wait and the Eton mess was a raspberry affair, with wonderfully light meringue and a rich fool-like whipped cream, served in a tall glass.
After dinner, we were invited to the Pantry; a private deli area which attracts diners during the day, and serves entirely homemade produce, from oils to popcorn to pies. We couldn’t leave empty-handed and chose a jar of their chutney.
We were avoiding the alcohol having overdone it a bit the night before and opted for a couple of iced-tea mocktails (£4 each). However, had I been feeling livelier I would have gone for the Raspberry Bramble (£7), which the lady next to me was sipping from a jam jar.