The Hampshire Hog, above the A3 outside Clanfield, has undergone a transformation.
The large, dowdy pub is now smartly kitted-out in new garb. Fullers – the pub group and its owner – has decided to go upmarket with some of its larger premises.
There are now hanging flower baskets, colourful outdoor seating, logs by the fireplace and the shelves are home to leather-bound books plus an array of glasses.
Those dining the day I went preferred to sit in the more snug part by the bar rather than the featureless, larger dining area, where Sinatra and co croon.
The menu offers the usual pub classics: grills, burgers, rack ribs (‘why not go the whole hog and order the full rack’), Honey Dew beer-battered haddock and chips plus ham, duck egg and chips, just some of the offerings alongside fisherman’s pie, classic Caesar salad, goat’s cheese salad plus beef carpaccio and risotto balls for starters.
The kitchen also offers a more adventurous specials’ board which may include pumpkin ravioli with Parmesan, rocket and garlic bread, or spicy Malaysian noodle seafood.
A starter may set you back a fiver, mains from £10 to £17 for a Hampshire sirloin.
Assured that the Hampshire trout and watercress fishcakes with broad beans, pancetta and beetroot salad was made on the premises, I took a seat by the window overlooking Butser Hill. Despite its more upmarket pretensions, it’s one of those pubs where you bag a table with a number and order at the bar.
The fishcakes contained precious little fish, no watercress, the salad equally lacking in broad beans (I counted three very tough ones) and no pancetta. What I got instead was a wildly overdressed mixed salad of little repute, including lots of raw onion and raw peppers, in poor quality vinaigrette.
Back to the bar to order dessert, a mix of wintery ones on offer, despite the month. I went for the cheesecake – and wished I hadn’t.
The Hampshire Hog certainly looks smart but it is style over substance with the food.
Fullers certainly deserves many plaudits for raising the bar in many of its pubs, the kitchen bar not raised sufficiently high enough at the Hog.
The Hampshire Hog, London Road Clanfield PO8 6QD. (023) 9259 1083
Open: Monday – Thursday for food from midday to 9.30pm; Friday – Saturday, midday – 10pm and Sunday, midday – 8pm.
Food: Three (out of five)
How to get there: Take the A3M from Portsmouth and exit at the Clanfield exit, follow the signs to Hampshire Hog, a few minutes away from the main road. Car park.