Fritham is one of my favourite places in the New Forest. It’s exactly the kind of place that exists only in books. Beautiful rural surroundings with lots of trees. Only one road in. A smattering of cottage-style houses. One pub. That’s pretty much it.
It’s situated towards the north of the New Forest park, which feels very different to the south. It has greater variation in elevation so the gorse- and heather-covered heaths seem less stark. It somehow feels more rural – more like the image of traditional English countryside that I hold in my mind.
Fritham is worth visiting for two reasons.
Firstly, there are some lovely walks and cycle rides in the vicinity.
Secondly, somewhat predictably given this is a food blog, the Royal Oak pub serves up some bloody good grub! But before effusing about the food, I should also praise the building itself, which is as about traditional as you could wish a pub to be. With its thatched roof, a higgledy-piggledy interior, dark wooden furnishings and beams, and an open fireplace, it is wonderfully cosy.
As for the food, almost everything on the menu is locally sourced.
The lunch menu is fairly small – ploughmans, quiches or pork pies are the main dishes.
But the food is amazing! The bread is worth raving about – it’s so fresh and delicious with that great homemade taste.
We took the Pork Pie lunch (£5), which I like to call the ‘pork pie picnic’, given the eclectic plateful of items.
If you think you don’t like pork pies, think again. Banish all thoughts of some some grey and grisly product of dubious meat quality that lurk in supermarkets. Think instead of a pure pork flavour, rough chopped chunks of meat, firm pastry. Then add the sweetness and tangyness of Hampshire Real Ale Chutney. It was simply fantastic.
A special mention also goes to the apple, which was crisp and juicy, and was genuinely one of the loveliest apples I’ve eaten in a while. (Apples can so often disappoint…)
Of course, all this can be enjoyed with a pint of beer. Highly recommended is the Ringwood ale.
All this quality, all this enjoyment, all for £5. It’ll make Londoners cry. I should know – I am one now.
The Royal Oak 5/5 – An absolute gem. Any trip to the New Forest should include an obligatory trip to Fritham for a walk, followed by some local country grub in this local country pub.