The Bugle Hotel, dating back to the 17th century, is a landmark in Titchfield’s handsome square.
A lintel above the bar is said to come from nearby Titchfield Abbey and a restaurant, housed in the Coach Barn past the large bar-cum-less-formal eating area, dates back to the 18th century.
Marcus and Cherry, Titchfield residents, took over the large premises last year.
This month they opened Bumbles, the ‘relaxed dining experience’ in the Barn.
Their head chef is from Sweden, ‘but he’s anglicised,’ according to Marcus.
There are no Swedish influences on the two menus, one for lunchtime snacks and the other for evenings.
The chef and the new owners have gone down a tried and tested route, with basically what you can find anywhere.
Choose from starters such as deep-fried breaded brie; mussels with cream; goat’s cheese and wild mushroom filo parcel, mushrooms stuffed with brie and an olive and feta salad.
Mains include grilled meats; pork belly; lamb shank; duck confit; whole plaice; sea bass and chicken supreme stuffed with Stilton and wrapped in bacon.
More cheese is found in a roasted aubergine and courgette goat’s cheese stack. A 6oz rump is just shy of £9, the duck and pork not quite hitting the £13 mark. Starters are around £6.
My choice, ‘an authentic’ Thai Green Curry, served with prawn crackers, rice and a sweet chilli dipping, came in a fashionable square bowl-cum-plate. The chicken was tender and tasty, the sauce hardly authentic, however, and the dipping sauce was needed to kick it into life.
But it was pleasant enough despite an overload of green peppers. Just how many peppers can one diner eat?
They were mostly left, as was the non-authentic plain old rice.
Just where were those kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce, coriander and other ingredients that make a Thai Green curry sing?
And you’ll never get a prawn cracker with this dish in Thailand or good Thai restaurants.
Homemade desserts go down a familiar route too, with crème brûlée; lemon syllabub; cheesecake and chocolate brownie.
I chose the brownie. It could have used a mite more moisture but it tasted OK, a raspberry sauce aiding it along.
Marcus and Cherry, a fine, friendly, hospitable couple, have taken on a big gamble to restore the hotel to a meeting and eating place of merit in this lovely village.
They deserve support and I believe the kitchen will win through in the end if the quality of ingredients and cooking match their zeal.
My bill came to £13.25, not including service.
The Bugle Hotel, The Square, Titchfield, Fareham P014 4AF 01329 841888
Open: Bar menu available 7 days a week, noon-9pm. Dinner from 5pm and all day Sundays.
Food: Three stars (out of five)
Service: Four stars
Atmosphere: Four stars
Disabled access: Front door is a little narrow, but there’s a side door by the car park.
How to get there: Take the M27 and come off at Fareham. Follow signs for Titchfield. At the Titchfield Gyratory, follow the signs for Titchfield village. The hotel is on the left in the square. Car park at rear.