Situated opposite author Jane Austen’s house, the 16th-century Greyfriar keeps tourists happy with old English lunchtime specials, but it’s the exciting evening menu that pulls in the locals. New licensee Simon Brencher and the head chef have put together an interesting but concise menu – five or six choices per course, focusing on fresh and preferably local produce. With exposed oak beams, scrubbed pine tables, a roaring fire and burning candles, this cosy establishment is run with attention to detail.
The food is a joy, with specials changing on a daily basis. Welsh lamb cheeks, their most popular starter and the chef’s signature dish, are braised for eight hours and served with mint jelly. Our scallops with croquette potatoes disappeared very quickly, and the pesto breaded halloumi was light and fluffy. For mains, the fish with Simon’s secret beer batter and triple-cooked hand-cut chips was pronounced delicious. My mildly curried chickpea, sweet potato and spinach dish served with a fresh coriander roti was beautifully light and fresh.
Too replete for pudding, I watched the white chocolate and raspberry brownie being devoured from across the table. Next time, I’ll definitely choose the English farmhouse cheeseboard. With well-kept Fullers ales, a carefully curated wine list and freshly ground coffee, The Greyfrair is an unexpected delight tucked away in the Hampshire countryside.