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The Gun Inn, Keyhaven

This cosy Fisherman's bar has undergone a total refurbishment using reclaimed oak panelling and floors with quality antique furniture. There is a large garden with a marquee for up to 60 covers and a wildflower garden at the end.

Owners, Chris & Kitty Cecil-Wright, are a well travelled couple who know that luxury isn’t about flash but about sourcing properly, taking time, doing the research and delivering it beautifully.

This is a considered, local menu of food that has been sourced with extreme care.  And before you ask, those with dietary requirements are well catered for and the children’s menu is excellent too.

The Gun menu is well out in front locally, but also quite probably leads the way, in the whole county. The ethos and principles here are similar to (the famous) Pig Hotels with their 25 mile menu. The team here have proven that it’s possible for the humble local to offer the same, if not better, as a posh restaurant.

Chris & Kitty were lucky enough to be introduced  to New Forest chef Mark Young during lockdown, an IOW man, now living in Milford on Sea. Mark mused –  “With hospitality mothballed I was beginning to wonder whether I would get my own kitchen again, this all changed when I met Kitty and Chris. Coming to The Gun felt like coming home.”

"I have the freedom to source whatever and whenever I want, using farmers, fisherfolk and producers from the network I had built around the Forest. Being a smaller business we can offer a truly local and seasonal menu that might change two or three times in a day depending on what turns up! I feel like I am cooking the most authentic food of my career. Every day is an adventure.”

We love that the staff are all locals who live nearby, and who have been trained and supported to excel.

The team only use seasonal British produce, most comes from within a 25 mile radius.  You’ll still spot the odd olive, or pistachio item, but it’s an impressive focus for the ‘total farm-to-fork’ goal.

There are three main menus here...

  1. The Sandwich board has rippingly delicious fare for the starving and harried.

  2. The Main Menu is full of variety from New Forest Wild Mushrooms to Tempura Plaice for starters to a classic Gun burger or fresh caper & butter Skate Wing. Plenty for vegans and gluten free folk too.

  3. And for those who want to pre-order, savour the whole experience and share a plate, the best way to go is the Big Gun Menu. Here you’ll be able to fill your chops with, for example, a rack of local pork, a whole fore rib of beef – you get the picture. It’s not cheap, but it’s the best you can buy, done the best way.

     

The wine menu starts simple and gets ‘proper job’ pretty quickly. There are some of delicious Hampshire and English wines. And as the diversity broadens, you’ll notice that there is more carefully chosen from Europe than further afield. It’s another nod in the right green direction.

Suppliers

Chef Mark’s desire to support local producers is solid. As much as possible is local. We love young Bart, at New Forest Shellfish and Seafood, who’s social media feed is full of the daily catch, line caught from the Solent, and he can deliver several times daily. Supporting the primary producer comes in the form of microgreens, veg, all local meats, as well as foraged samphire, mushrooms and berries, local cheeses and dairy products, ales, gins, and wine where possible.

History

There’s been a dwelling here since the 1600’s and a pub from the early 1700’s. It has a reputation for smugglers, contraband specialists and landlords called George. For more weird and wonderful facts and photos, visit their history page.

Walk for the views, birds and Hurst castle

It’s well worth planning a walk from the area too. Keyhaven’s coastal area is a bird reserve, with the coastal path meandering through it. Hurst Castle is gorgeous and a two hour round trip, if you don’t take the boat trip. You can Read our full Insiders Guide to Keyhaven here. 

As always, with the very best places, do book ahead. You can do so via their webpage here. 

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