Once in a while it is good to get away from the usual rushed lunch in an over-designed and noisy eatery, and there is nowhere better to indulge that desire than The Avenue Restaurant at Lainston House Hotel. Just an hour from London, the hotel's statuesque buildings sit among rolling hills on the outskirts of Winchester. It's a real gem.
The Avenue combines traditional manor house comforts with contemporary seasonal cooking. The quality of the food owes much to the imagination of award-winning chef Andy Mackenzie. From starters such as the Stockbridge wild mushroom espuma to mains such as south-coast cod with crab sausage or Hampshire rabbit with tortellini, every ingredient is either grown or sourced locally - many vegetables and herbs coming from the hotel's extensive walled kitchen garden.
There is no dress code in the restaurant, which gives the place a genuinely relaxed feel lacking in many five-star establishments.
Coffee can be taken in the adjacent lounge, although it was incredibly hard to prise ourselves out of the sofas and away from the views when the time came to leave, making me wish that I'd organised a small offsite meeting followed by a leisurely dinner and overnight stay instead. Next time.
Where: Sparsholt, Hampshire, SO21 2LT
Contact: 01962 776088
How much: £19.95 per head