Easy on the roast pigeon heart

Le Poussin at Parkhill

As I was chewing on a roast pigeon heart stuck on a stick, complemented by various other innards and a minuscule leg joint resembling a marble on a toothpick, I began to wonder if my delicate stomach would cope with the extravagant culinary experience for which Le Poussin is renowned.

Anchovy tempura and tomato fondue canapés, a shot glass of cold apple and celeriac consommé, seared foie gras, lobster, sea bass with frogs' legs and lavender, cheese, coconut foam that dissolves instantly on the tongue, passion fruit souffle - the trek through the tasting menu was interesting and fun.

Alex Aitken's cuisine is the main reason for staying at Le Poussin at Parkhill. His original restaurant, Simply Poussin, is in nearby Brockenhurst, but the hotel's menu has been toned down to cater for a wider range of tastes.

The hotel itself is pleasant enough, but has a rather old-fashioned country look: chintzy sofas and grandfather clocks. The bedrooms look dated. Mine had flowery curtains and twee portraits of horses. The bathroom was so kitsch it could almost have been fashionable - tiles emblazoned with fish, a clear plastic toilet seat full of shells and glass seahorses, and a mirror with showbiz lightbulbs.

But renovation is due to start at the end of this month, which will include removing extensions that detract from the original building, realigning the drive to run next to the pond, and constructing new villas.

· Le Poussin at Parkhill (023 8028 2944; www.lepoussin.co.uk), Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst, Hants. Tasting menu £55, with a different wine for each course, add £20. Doubles from £55, weekday, from £75 weekend, per night.


Gemma Bowes

The GuardianTramp

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