The Bakers Arms Droxford | Restaurant review

The Dish Detective is – as you probably know by now – a big fan of pubs.

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 6:56 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 8:54 am

Back-street boozers, gastropubs and everything in between (except for noisy warehouse-style town centre places), we like them all.

But as the years have gone by, the trip to the pub has become a rare treat. It’s not just us growing older – goodness knows we’d like to use our advancing years as an excuse to never leave the bar – but it’s the cost.

We simply cannot afford £4-plus on a pint, nor £12 on a burger, on a regular basis (yes, we know there are deals to be had in the chain pubs, and there is a time and place for those, but much like popular global fast-food purveyors, the food is never as fun, or as filling, as you think it will be).

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The pheasant at The Bakers Arms in Droxford.

But one weekday recently we properly pushed the boat out.

The Dish Detective and their companion had a miniature celebration to mark – nothing too showy, and nothing that needs sharing – and we both had a day off so we had the ultimate weekday treat… lunch you don’t eat out of a plastic box.

Shorn of the burden of work, we decided to strike out, to try somewhere we’d never been. And so we found ourselves in Droxford, the first picture-postcard village you reach when heading north on the A32 up the Meon Valley.

Walking into the Baker’s Arms, the first impression is… this place is great. It’s a proper pub, a good size, with an open fire.

The burger at The Bakers Arms in Droxford .

The second impression is that it’s busy for a weekday.

It’s fair to say that the grey pound is much in evidence, and there’s a rather relaxing hum of well-spoken chatter from the tables.

We haven’t booked, as we’ve come on impulse, and first it seems as if there may not be space, but the – very friendly and efficient – barmaid finds us a table for two, apologising unnecessarily for placing us next to a radiator. It’s fine. We’re delighted.

The menu offers up a lot of treats.

The Bakers Arms in Droxford.

We pass over the starters as neither of us is a regular big lunch eater, but we like the sound of a butternut squash, sage and walnut tart (£7.50), and a fried pigeon breast served with a beetroot puree (£8).

We’re both firm advocates of only ordering what you can’t cook yourself, and we’re fairly sure we wouldn’t make a good job of, say, a celeriac remoulade, which also accompanies the pigeon.

Leave that to the experts.

Excited by the thought of game, the DD’s companion opts for a main course of roasted pheasant (£16.95).

The Bakers Arms in Droxford.

It comes with a potato rosti, which soaks up a fragrant juniper and rosemary gravy, and also chunky charred courgette slices and green beans. It’s the first time they’ve eaten pheasant and they are impressed.

I am also enticed by a game dish, a venison and pancetta pie (£14.95), but it’s off the menu today.

There’s a lot of seafood on offer – mussels in white wine, a crab thermidor, and sea bass – which doesn’t float my boat so I go for the tried and tested option of a burger.

It’s a beef burger for £12.95, but it comes with the unturndownable option of making it dirty for an extra £3.50, by adding barbecue brisket and onion rings.

What can I say – this was a once-every-four-months treat and I’m not going to say no.

We deeply enjoy this meal. Everything was cooked with such assurance – the pheasant tender and not dry, the home-made rosti holding together nicely, and the vegetables perfectly done.

The burger was clearly home-made too, the meat of good quality and the dish well put together.

The only duff note is a treacle tart for pudding – there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not as much of a cut above a shop-bought version as the rest of the meal.

We leave delighted, and we may have found a new venue for future special occasions, and in an uncertain world, goodness knows we need them.

Our bill comes to just over £60 – but we’ll start saving soon for another visit.

The Bakers Arms, Droxford 01489 877533

Food: 5

Ambience: 5

Value: 4

Child-friendly: 4

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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