11 best restaurants in the New Forest for an unforgettable meal

Hartnett Holder

The New Forest is one of my favourite places to visit in the UK and it offers some of the finest dining in Hampshire. Although there are currently no Michelin star restaurants in the New Forest, there are some recommended by the Michelin Guide, as well as some very near misses.

Personally, I see the lack of Michelin stars as a real plus, as you’re more likely to get a table – and to pay less for the privilege.

I’ve visited the New Forest countless times over the years, and have compiled my favourite restaurants into this guide. These are the places which have really impressed me, both with the quality of their food and service, plus the beautiful settings.

For any of these New Forest restaurants, I’d really recommend booking in advance. These places are incredibly popular, as is the beautiful New Forest as a whole.

With miles of unspoiled heath and woodland, this glorious area near Southampton, Bournemouth and Poole is a wonderful place to spend time in, as well as to dine out in.

Here is my pick of the very best restaurants in the New Forest.

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

1. The Pig, Brockenhurst

Address: Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7QL

Best for: Local food

In a secluded spot a little way up the road that leads from Brock (as it’s known to the locals) to Beaulieu, The Pig is the shabby chic country escape personified.

I’m a huge fan of The Pig Hotels and the on-site eatery at the Brockenhurst location is my personal favourite restaurant in the New Forest.

In my opinion, it’s one of the top restaurants in the New Forest for those who want to sample local food, boasting both a well-stocked kitchen garden and a 25-mile menu.

The food is hearty, delicious and well-presented, and the service is always welcoming and attentive. Despite the excellent quality of the food, I love that the vibe is laid-back enough to make you feel right at home here.

2. The Terrace at the Montagu Arms, Beaulieu

Address: Palace Ln, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst SO42 7ZL

Best for: Impeccable presentation

The team at the Montagu Arms are passionate about the produce they use and the food they turn out – and it shows.

This relaxed, traditional pub is in the heart of Beaulieu, a mere stone’s throw from the National Motor Museum. In fact, a path through the estate directly connects the two.

The Terrace at the Montague Arms

If the sun is shining, I’d really recommend dining on the outdoor terrace, which is a delight during clement weather.

That said, settling down to feast within the stylish dining room is barely a hardship with the soothing views over the inn’s photogenic gardens.

Montagu Arms Restaurant

As for the food, flavours combine and complement one another perfectly. Proving this is a kitchen team who take the utmost care over their craft.  

If you fancy staying overnight (and I really recommend that you do), book a room at the Montagu Arms.

3. Hartnett Holder & Co at Limewood, Lyndhurst

Address: Lime Wood, Beaulieu Rd, Lyndhurst, Hampshire SO43 7FZ

Best for: A celebrity chef

Popular TV personality Angela Hartnett is known for her unpretentious manner and her food is no different.

I love the decor at this restaurant – parquet flooring, button-back leather seating in deep red and painted wall panelling create a smart yet laid-back environment.

Hartnett Holder

Sit back and sample a refined, Italian-style feast worthy of a mention in the Michelin Guide. All while enjoying sweeping views over the property’s impressive grounds. 

If you’re on a budget, I’d recommend snapping up the set lunch menu offering incredible value for money.

But if you’re not, I’d suggest booking in for an overnight stay and a spell at the sumptuous spa too.

This is one of the most sought-after hotels in the New Forest, and with good reason.

4. Elderflower Restaurant, Lymington

Address: 4A Quay St, Lymington SO41 3AS

Best for: Tasting menu

I’m recommending this restaurant both for the food and its enviable location. Elderflower is slap bang in the heart of upmarket Lymington, one of my favourite towns in the New Forest.

It’s home to Sir Ben Ainslie’s second Olympic gold post box, a pretty harbour, saltwater swimming baths, stylish shops, and smart eateries.

Elderflower Restaurant

Elderflower serves up the finest food in town, creating modern British cuisine with the occasional French twist. Indeed, the owners have worked in some of both France and Britain’s top restaurants.

They now serve up fine food to be savoured in their cosy, low-ceilinged dining room on a quaint, cobbled harbourside street – I know you’re going to love this one.

5. Verveine, Milford-on-Sea

Address: 98 High St, Milford on Sea, Lymington SO41 0QE

Best for: Fish dishes

Selling itself as a ‘fishmarket restaurant’, Verveine is located in sleepy Milford-on-Sea. It’s a seaside spot on the southern edge of the New Forest that still feels relatively unknown (which is one of the reasons why I love it so much).


With a menu that changes daily to reflect the finest produce available locally, I’d recommend saving this one for when you’re feeling a little adventurous.

There’s a very good chance that the catch of the day will feature somewhere on the list, owing to its seaside setting.

Verveine New Forest Restaurant

Diners can choose between 4, 6 and 8 courses for dinner, while at lunchtimes there is a tasting menu in addition to 2 or 3 course options.

Carefully selected wine pairings are also available during the evenings, and I think all options offer great value for money. 

6. Le Blaireau at Careys Manor, Brockenhurst

Address: Lyndhurst Rd, Brockenhurst SO42 7RH

Best for: French cuisine

Foodie fans of all things French should be in heaven at Le Blaireau. Though if you do stay over at Carey’s Manor (another of my favourite hotels in the New Forest), there is also a good Thai restaurant within the main building.

Le Blaireau is set apart somewhat, occupying a charming little structure in front of the hotel. 

Le Blaireau Dish

The aim is to recreate authentic French cuisine in the heart of the New Forest, all washed down with Old World wines or a cooling biere.

Brockenhurst is in fact something of a hotspot for foodies, with the aforementioned The Pig just down the road. If you don’t fancy driving to deepest Hampshire, the station is just a short stroll away too. 

Or for an overnight stay and a spa experience, book into Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa.

7. The Cartwheel Inn, Fordingbridge

Address: Whitsbury, Fordingbridge, Hampshire SP6 3PZ

Best for: Sunday roast

Fordingbridge is a little off the usual well-trodden New Forest tourist track that encompasses Lyndhurst, Beaulieu, Lymington and Brockenhurst.

Cartwheel Inn

But trust me when I say that your taste buds will thank you for calling at Whitsbury near Fordingbridge. This is the first of two of the town’s restaurants featured in this guide.

At the time of writing, The Cartwheel Inn was ranked as the top eatery in the area by TripAdvisor reviewers.

I’d recommend this spot for the Sunday roasts, contemporary takes on pub classics and fresh seafood specialities.

Inside, it’s elegant yet very relaxed, very much in keeping with the classic English country inn.

8. Rose & Thistle, Fordingbridge

Address: Rockbourne Rd, Rockbourne, Fordingbridge SP6 3NL

Best for: Fresh game

Another of Fordingbridge’s star eateries is featured here. This time you’ll need to head to Rockbourne on the New Forest’s outskirts, but I believe it’s well worth your while.

Especially if you have a penchant for the freshest, locally sourced game.

Rose and Thistle New Forest

The look is quintessential New Forest. It’s a snug, whitewashed pub with a thatched roof that looks every bit as well suited to its surroundings as the local pony population does.

Rose and Thistle Burger

Whether you plump for a burger, belly pork, a hearty homemade pie or good old fish and chips, you can enjoy it in a traditional British Inn.

All complete with beamed ceilings, blue-rimmed plates and a convivial atmosphere.

9. Monkey Brewhouse, Lymington

Address: 167 Southampton Rd, Lymington SO41 9HA

Best for: International dishes

Back to Ben Ainslie’s adopted stomping ground now for a restaurant with its very own on-site microbrewery.

Monkey Brewhouse New Forest

From a relaxed Sunday lunch to a full-on gastronomic dining experience, the Monkey Brewhouse has been making waves in this coastal New Forest town since it was taken over by a local couple in 2019. 

Monkey Brewhouse

The menu draws inspiration from all over the globe, so you may start with an Italian, Spanish or Moroccan dish before moving your taste buds on to a British or Indian main.

I’d recommend leaving room for one of the desserts, which are a mix of classic English picks like sticky toffee pudding and lighter options.

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10. The Old Mill, Lymington

Address: Silver St, Lymington SO41 6DJ

Best for: Dog-friendly restaurant

For visiting food fans, The Old Mill is the third place indicating that Lymington might just be where it’s all happening.

Idyllically situated by the river just a few miles from town, this New Forest restaurant in Hordle is named for its past incarnation as a working water mill dating from the 1700s.

The Old Mill New Forest

I’d recommend this spot if you’re a family seeking dog-friendly restaurants in the New Forest.

There’s a dedicated children’s menu offering dishes that kids are actually guaranteed to devour.

The Old Mill

While adults may wax lyrical about the steamed mussels served Asian style, short rib burger, fish pie or red lentil moussaka.

I love that the menu changes monthly, always giving you a good excuse to return. 

11. The Jetty, Christchurch

Address: 95 Mudeford, Christchurch BH23 3NT

Best for: Incredible views

To say that the views from The Jetty are incomparable really is no exaggeration – perched on the water’s edge, it offers diners exclusive views over Hengistbury Head.

The views are the real highlight of this New Forest restaurant and a key reason I included it on this list.

Here the pretty lines of overnight beach huts fetch princely sums of money whenever they go on the market.

The Jetty New Forest

The Jetty is overseen by local star chef Alex Aitken, a down-to-earth guy often seen strolling around the scenic grounds of the Christchurch Harbour Hotel chatting to guests.

It was once named ‘Seafood Restaurant of the Year’, so you can expect lots of fresh fish dishes.

The Jetty Dining

In fact, a short after-dinner stroll will take you to Mudeford Quay, where much of the day’s catch actually arrives on land. 

There are various menus to choose from at The Jetty, including the tasting and seasonal local produce menus as well as a dedicated vegan and vegetarian selection.

With these 11 delectable restaurants in the New Forest, discerning visitors will be spoilt for culinary choice. Do let me know in the comments if you have any personal favourites.

If you’re planning a visit to this beautiful part of the UK, discover the best things to do in the New Forest and the best luxury hotels in the New Forest. Or read my ultimate guide to the New Forest.

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Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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