Sports lovers can dine in style at many sporting events. A view of Grand Prix racing, tennis or football can be part of the dining experience now.
Removed from the action on the terraces, this type of catering tries to emulate high class restaurants. Goodwood, the Emirates Stadium and the up coming Olympics grandstand are prime examples of the genre.
And if you want this experience locally, without the need to dust off the fascinator? Draw back the black and white patterned curtains at King’s Country Bar and Restaurant, in Botley, to view junior horsemanship in action.
The restaurant sits cheek by jowl, or more specifically flank by mane, to an equestrian teaching centre, with tables right next to the action.
I watched, fascinated, as six young girls, suitably hatted and booted, practised their rising trot in the ring.
So who comes here to eat? Diners were not all doting grandparents or family members. They were out for a meal, with the King’s promising ‘excellent food in a unique setting’.
For once, ‘unique’ is not misplaced. The large two-tiered restaurant with bar has an extensive menu.
Come here for breakfast, sandwiches, soups or a large selection of a la carte dishes, including salmon fishcakes with sweet chilli sauce, stilton and bacon-stuffed mushrooms, spiced whitebait, smoked salmon and beetroot, or tempura vegetables, followed by swordfish with pink grapefruit and stem ginger, rib eye and Beef Wellington, with some of the more expensive mains in the £16 – £20 range.
Keener priced dishes are tried and tested ones: fish and chips, penne pasta, lasagne, lamb cobbler and the day’s curry at £10.50. Starters come in at just under a fiver to under £8. There’s also a Sunday carvery at £10.50.
I soon had a ringside seat by the action, those shiny rumps passing by in parade fashion. My choice was a beef, mushroom and Guinness pie.
The meat was excellent, the Guinness sauce perfectly tasty. But why did it have to look like a dog’s dinner? Under a very dry pastry lid, the stew was plonked on mash, mange tout and carrots more reminiscent of 1970’s style of cooking: bland, overcooked, unloved.
The extremely cheerful staff are managed by can’t-do-enough-for-you managers but they were over-run with customers. The dessert menu was a long time in coming and my time was running out.
If you do make it to the pudding stage expect brandy snap with chantilly cream, strawberry mousse or chocolate and hazelnut tartlet, all at £4.50.
If you crave unusual, agreeable surroundings, King’s may be just the place for you.
My bill came to just under £12 including fizzy water but not a tip.
King’s Country Bar & Restaurant, King’s Corner, Botley, SO30 2HA (01489) 796162.
Open: from 10am (9.30am Saturday and Sunday) for breakfast, midday– 3pm for lunch, 6pm – 9.30pm evenings, all day Friday – Saturday and no food Sunday evening.
Food: Three (out of five)
How to get there: From the M27 take Junction 9 towards Fareham.
At the next roundabout (Segensworth) turn right towards Park Gate. At the second roundabout follow the right fork to Botley. Immediately before the junction with A334 (end of A3051), King’s is on the left.