We ventured to Old Thorns for Sunday Lunch with friends. We had heard mixed reports about the quality and wanted to judge for ourselves. Sunday offers a carvery style lunch in the main restaurant, which suits us fine.
The winding drive is an excellent introduction to the building and extensive car parking is available. A short walk later and we were passing the stylish reception, making our way to the restaurant. On arrival we were greeted well. When asked if we had "been before" to which we replied "No", we were then told that the Maitre D' was a little busy and that a waitress would explain how the restaurant worked. They were obviously having a busy Sunday!
We took no offence to this and went to our generously sized table overlooking the golf course. Drinks service to the table was swift and efficient, including jugged water arriving without being requested, which is a simple but lovely touch.
Sadly our waitress had a very soft voice, and most of the table could not her explain how the restaurant worked. Being English we simply smiled and nodded. It transpires that starters (cold meats, salad, fish etc) is also served buffet style and that you help yourself.
There was a generous array of crayfish, smoked salmon, prawns, herring and all things fishy, along with a good selection of pasta, breads and salads. The fish was all presented well and very fresh. As I was looking forward to a full lunch I just sampled some of the dishes, but everything was tasty. Some people might find the plate sizes are a little small, which seems a shame - but avoids wastage - when the selection available is this good. Starters costs about £6 extra on top of the normal cost of Sunday lunch, for which you are allowed one visit.
The Sunday Lunch carvery experience was a good one, but needs polishing. It is certainly charging the maximum I think is appropriate at this time, which is thankfully less than most golf clubs or luxury hotels charge. Had the restaurant positioned itself around the £15 for a main course mark, this review would have been a little different, but for the £12 it charges, it offers good food at good value.
You queue for a chef assisted carvery, and start with preheated plates and a choice of gammon, beef, or I think Turkey. There was no lamb available when I visited, but this may change weekly.
The beef was cooked perfectly and two generous slices served. My colleagues had the gammon, which was equally well cooked.
You walk down the buffet helping yourself to an array of vegetables and accompaniments, including several cabbage dishes and proper home made gravy. The vegetables are well presented and piping hot.
Each of us enjoyed our lunch, although it appears waitress service is not offered to top up wine or water glasses through the meal. Certainly no extra bar drinks were offered until we requested them, which seems a shame and missed revenue for the hotel.
It is very clear from the menus that your buffet price allows you ONE visit to the buffet, and that any extra visits will be charged at full price. Although I can appreciate the hotel may not want people eating several portions, this left me and friends a little worried about the "bread politics" - we really fancied some bread to go with our main course, but were all too scared to return the buffet / carvery area in case doing so cost us another £12 each, so although lunch was perfectly pleasant, we were left to enjoy it without bread and no offer of extra drinks. Hardly a crime, but less than perfect. The cauliflower cheese was a very good choice.
Service was a little sporadic over lunch, and the grand finale involved our waitress trying to clear the table before everyone had finished. Again, hardly an unforgivable sin, but just another pointer that there are some training issues to be worked on here.
All in all a pleasant lunch, with good food and friendly, if not completely professional, service. Self service carvery may not suit everyone, so the venue offers plated dishes in its other "bar type" restaurant, but for us the concept is sound. The quality and variety of food in the Sunday Carvery is more than suitable for a Sunday lunch with family or close friends.
It is a large and popular restaurant, so booking is advisable. It is set in lovely grounds and just needs the finishing few flourishes with regard to staff training and Old Thorns will become even better.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in 400 acres of Hampshire countryside the Old Thorns Manor Hotel in Hampshire is the ideal place to explore the region. With our Peter Alliss designed golf course golfers and non golfers alike enjoy the rolling green landscape along with state of the art facilities. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Old Thorns Manor Hotel And Golf Course
- Old Thorns Hotel Course
- Old Thorns Manor Hotel & Golf Course Liphook, Hampshire