At the Greyhound on the Test, chef Alan Haughie serves rustic dishes that appear simple but have a depth of technique. Neil Gerrard reports
It has been all change at the Greyhound on the Test, formerly the Greyhound Inn in the Hampshire village of Stockbridge. The menu has seen a complete overhaul, at the same time that the inn with seven rooms was renamed and refurbished, ahead of its March 2013 relaunch. One feature that has not changed though, is chef Alan Haughie, who has been with the business for over a year and a half, and remains at the helm in the kitchen.
The new menu, which aims for a more honest and rustic approach, marks something of a departure for Haughie, who has a background in classical French and English cooking, having trained with Anton Edelmann at the Savoy before following him to St Quentins brasserie. Haughie also had a successful stint at Pattersons in Mayfair, before taking on his first head chef role at Hotel TerraVina in the New Forest.
"The menu reads very simply now and I think the idea from the owners was that they wanted to undersell the product so that people are looking at something that appears simple but that actually has a much greater depth of technique. It is certainly extremely good value for money and offers a large choice. We looked at a lot of places like Bread Street Kitchen and the Wolseley for inspiration," Haughie explains.
The changes have been well received so far, says Haughie, not least because of the new "on toast" section, which offers a range of casual dishes like mackerel and horseradish on toast in two different sizes (£8.95 /£4.50).
"It is a nice way to eat and it is not something I have ever done before but now I am absolutely sold on the idea," says Haughie. "The on toast section is incredibly popular and something that we decided to go for as opposed to doing the predictable sandwich."
That's not to say that the chef doesn't have room to show off a little flair and technique in his cooking. The starter of smoked carpaccio of Broughton buffalo with celeriac remoulade (£6.95), for example, involves a substantial amount of preparation, as Haughie explains: "We hot smoke it briefly and add some demerara sugar, a little muscovado sugar, and loads of aromatics. We leave it to cool down and seal in the smoke, then we give it a pan fry and get a nice caramelisation.
"It is served thinly sliced with remoulade made with a walnut mayonnaise, a little bit of mustard, we do a little bit of madeira jelly, toasted pine nuts and a sweet red onion and thyme vinaigrette with it. It is very wholesome and hearty stuff."
About the priciest option on the menu is the ribeye steak with sugar snaps, leeks, chateaubriand sauce and chips at £24. The steak comes from the Traditional Beef Company and is dry-aged for 30-40 days. "It is chargrilled and has a slightly smoky flavour, served simply in a chateaubriand sauce," explains Haughie.
The restaurant is already full, typically seeing 50 for lunch and 50 or more for dinner every day apart from Monday. Bookings for the weekend are also strong.
It helps then, that the Greyhound on the Test has an experienced hand on the tiller, in the shape of Lucy Townsend. She runs the business on behalf of two private investors and comes from the Miller Collection where she worked for five years as chief operations officer, running nearby rivals including the Peat Spade, the Anchor Inn at Lower Froyle, and the Queen's Arms.
The real test for the business comes about now, as the fishing season, which is big business in this part of the world, casts off in earnest. Haughie anticipates having to recruit more staff to his team of four chefs and seven kitchen porters to cope with this. However, having had time to bed the new approach since March, he doesn't anticipate any problems. "I love the place, I am very glad to be back and I think it is going to do fantastically well," he predicts.
Sample dishes from the menu
Starters Hot smoked salmon, pickled shallot, caper, potato salad £7.25
Aged Parmesan gnocchi, roasted cauliflower purée £5.95
On toast Croque Monsieur £8.95/£4.50
Chopped liver £8.95/£4.50
Main courses Pan fried hake, purple sprouting broccoli, lemon butter £13.95
Whole mini bird - garnish â¨to suit £13.95
Desserts Choc fondant £6.95
Nougatine glacée £5.50
The Greyhound on the Test
31 High Street, Stockbridge
Hampshire SO51 6EY
Tel: 01264 810833www.thegreyhoundonthetest.co.uk