The Boot Inn
Pubs and Bars with Restaurants
The Boot Inn, tucked away in the village of Houghton in the Test Valley, is the ultimate example of elegant country dining. As we entered, the aroma of home cooking assured us that this quaint 18th-century pub, now elegantly refurbished, was a rare find. Once shown to our table in the spacious dining room, we soon relaxed with refreshing glasses of Picpoul de Pinet. Our interest was piqued by the description of the mouth-watering starters on offer, including inventive Bloody Mary soup and a cheese and spinach soufflé.
My partner plumped for panko prawns, while I savoured every mouthful of a cunning combination of prawns and avocado served with homemade bread. From the fish board, my friend chose baked hake with pea purée and hand-cut chips while I opted for Barnsley lamb chop served with crushed potatoes, bathed in truly divine rosemary and mint sauce. For dessert, we gloried in generous servings of fig and date toffee pudding topped with ice cream, and baked cheesecake decorated with raspberries and a dash of chocolate.
Cross-country walkers enjoy drinks on the sunny front terrace, as well as in the cosy free house bar that offers cask ales and wine to complement the extensive menu. There’s also the option to dine al fresco at one of the elegant wooden tables on the velvet lawn, which is ideal for children, and which sweeps right to the edge of the Test.
The Boot is perfect for any occasion, whether a big celebration or a cosy midweek dinner – it’s understandably popular, so booking is advised.