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The Red Shoot, Linwood

Reviewed November 2009

Since the festive season is fast approaching I thought this delightful snowy scene of our latest restaurant review at the Red Shoot in Linwood would be particularly apt! Linwood is found on the western fringes of the New Forest and is about four miles from Ringwood.

Despite giving the appearance of always being a hostelry in this perfect postcard setting, it’s surprising to learn that this handsome Edwardian building was at one time the local village shop, a Post Office, a private members club and even a petrol station prior to 1963 when it was converted into a pub.

The name originates from the the nearby Red Shoot Wood and Red Shoot Plain which in turn possibly originated from the “popular” pastime of shooting red deer. We have used this pub a number of times – at the end of a forest walk, as a convenient stop for one of our cycle rides from Ringwood along Smugglers Path and also just for an evening out with friends and on each occasion we have been very impressed with the beer, the food, the atmosphere and the service and it is a pleasure to be able to share our experiences with our readers.

When Simon and Jude Karelus took charge four and a half years ago they replaced the carpets with a sensible stripped wood floor – added soft green walls and subtle lighting and created a perfect pub for walkers, cyclists, campers (a four acre campsite is located next door) and for dogs in particular. In fact anyone with muddy feet! Doggy water bowls are supplied free of charge as is the bowl of doggy snacks on the bar!

We arrived on a fine Saturday early evening in late September and decided to sit behind one of the large Edwardian west facing sash windows at the front which overlooks the forest and also to enjoy one of this year’s stunning late September fiery red sunsets.

Towards the rear of the pub behind the large wooden bar you might pass the viewing window for the pub’s renowned micro-brewery. Started in the 1990s by the pub’s then owner Paul Adams, it is now run by a neighbour John Sherwood, who also runs a nearby campsite. John closely follows Paul’s original recipes producing a unique range of local ales which include Forest Gold, Tom’s Tipple, Muddy Boot, Forest Grump and various seasonal brews. If these aren’t enough there are also a good range of Wadworths beers on tap and numerous well priced wines! Unsurprisingly the pub hosts regular Beer Festivals in April and October!

By now my husband had quickly drained his glass of Forest Gold and was heading off for a replenishment of Tom’s Tipple so I thought it was time to study the menu. Simon the chef and his team of Hayley, Laura and Matt concentrate on producing an excellent range of mouthwatering meals famous for quality and quantity all freshly cooked to your liking, whilst Jude and her girls supply the service in a super friendly and super quick time!

To cater for the smaller appetite, smaller portions are also offered which are cleverly used as childrens portions.

Starters are from the light bite menu which offers a wholesome range of selected dishes out of which I chose my favourite food – Field Mushroom Stuffed with Stilton and Bacon on a bed of Mixed Leaves whilst my husband who also has a penchant for Stilton had his Deep Fried, wrapped in beautiful crispy Filo Pastry and served on a Bed of Mixed Leaves with a Tangy Apple and Cider Chutney. Apart from chutneys, the Red Shoot has the most amazing selection of relishes, mustards, vinaigrettes and sauces etc that I have ever seen in a pub! In fact something for every palate!

Despite the hearty portions we were both surprisingly hungry (my husband suggested it was the marathon shopping trip to West Quay which was to blame!) and so the main course was eagerly anticipated!

The main menu and blackboard specials include a marvellous range of good pub fare such as Traditional Homemade Stew with Dumplings – very tempting, Roast Pheasant, Lambs Liver and Onions, Chilli, Lasagne, Wild Mushroom and Artichoke Tagliatelli and Steaks from the Skillet to name but a few!

We both selected from the blackboard specials which change daily. My husband opted for the Grilled Salmon Marinated in Lime, Chilli and Coriander served with Rice, Mixed Leaves and a Balsamic Glaze, whilst I sampled the Baked Whole Trout with Panfried Wild Mushrooms and Lemon Butter accompanied by a Mélange of Perfectly Cooked Vegetables. Other tempting specials available included Pan Fried Chicken and Chorizo Sausages, Wild Mushroom and Fennel Omelette. a Trio of Meat consisting of 4oz of Beef, 4oz of Pork and 4oz of Gammon and even a Mega Burger with two half pounders – no doubt for mega appetites after a mega walk!

Finally we just about had room to sample one of the selection of puddings which are regularly changed on the pudding blackboard and whilst I had Chocolate Fudge cake with delicious New Forest vanilla Ice Cream, my husband was as usual unable to decide whether to opt for Custard or Ice Cream on his Apple Pie so of course had both! Although after studying the thickness of the apple filling, I think he made a wise choice!

Since my husband insisted on finishing his “Muddy Boot”, I took the opportunity to have a brief chat to Jude during a rare quiet moment. They have run Wadworths premises for 8 years previously in Gloucester and Southampton and fortunately for us The Red Shoot is their favourite! Thursday night is Quiz Night and a variety of live bands perform every Sunday night between 9 and 11 pm.

What better way to finish a brisk winter New Forest walk through crispy leaves and frosty bracken than to stop at The Red Shoot to warm up with an open fire, local ale and local fare. See the website for the full menu.

The Red Shoot Inn & Brewery, Toms Lane, Linwood, Ringwood, Hants BH24 3QT. 01425 475792. www.redshoot.co.uk