The Purefoy Arms
Tel. 01256 389777
Food type: British Gastropub
Nearest tube: N/A
Website: The Purefoy Arms
Note: The Purefoy Arms is now closed. The chef is now cooking at Pulpo Negro tapas in Alresford, focusing on the type of food he enjoys cooking.
When my fiancee suggested we go to the Purefoy Arms for a casual Sunday lunch after church, I was rather intrigued. For one, this is a pub located in a sleepy village a fair bit off the beaten track. Plus there hasn’t been much in the way of write-ups/ blog reviews of this place. Heck, the pub is not even listed on Zomato as of my time of writing. Looking at the restaurant’s website, their ‘latest’ menu published was one from April. Hmmmm… Anyways, who was I to complain when I was getting a free lunch and more importantly I did not have to do the dishes afterwards. And thus, I went along with her plan.
Things looked positive from the off with the restaurant packed for Sunday lunch. Then again it is not difficult with even the local Harvesters full on Sunday lunch. We were led quickly to our table in the main dining room with a nice fireplace and more interestingly (for me at least) a few photo frames with restaurant menus encased within. [If you are interested, they were menus from Per Se, Fat Duck and Manresa] I think this is a great thing because it shows that the chef/owner has at least eaten at some top restaurants and not one those delusional chefs who thinks good food is the stuff served up on Kitchen Nightmares.
The menu, on a piece of white A4 paper, offers up an interesting dilemma. There are of course bar snacks but the chef also has some tapas style plates to share options along with more traditional starters. As I am a greedy little pig, we opted for both in the name of research… Main courses features some appealing dishes including a good selection of beef. The star attraction of coming here is their Black Angus Rib of Beef large enough to serve 2-3 people. If you ring up in advance, you can arrange for a larger joint to feed a larger party. They also have a nice selection of wines with very fair markups including a bottle of Mas La Planas Torres which we drank.
Of the various little nibbles we tried, the hands down favourite had to be the Buttermilk Popcorn Chicken featuring juicy plump chicken morsels coated in a crispy, crunchy exterior. Let’s be honest here, everyone secretly loves a bit of fried chicken and this one here was definitely worth the calories. Of course no pub trip would be complete with out some pork scratchings which were brittle and crisp but perhaps a little over salted even for my liking.
Despite the grazing platter, I still opted for a starter and when I read the words Octopus Paella all the other options might as well not have existed. The chef here clearly has a thing for Spanish flavours as can be seen with the various options on the menu featuring more than a hint of Spanish sunshine. The octopus paella here was a good example as even though it was not a paella in the most traditional sense, it encapsulated all the flavours of one. The octopus was of course beautifully tender and the rice was the right side of al dente.
And then the main event arrived in all its 1.5 kilo glory – a hunk of aged beef rib, cooked the perfect hue of ruby-red with all the traditional garnishes you would expect. Yorkshire puddings – check! Roast potatoes – check! Vegetables to make this dish remotely healthy – check! Gravy – check! We were thankful that they provided us a large table because with all the additional trimmings, the table was groaning with food. If there was a slight nitpick, for me the roast potatoes were roasted with beef dripping and thus had a leathery exterior. I am in the Heston school of thought where roast potatoes should be done with goose fat to achieve a crisp, almost glass-like exterior with a fluffy interior.
Absolutely stuffed, I still soldiered on to try an obligatory dessert of chocolate and salted caramel. As it so often happens in England, the desserts simply to not match up to the highs of the savoury courses. While the chocolate fondant was capably made, the hidden surprise of salted caramel in the centre was at the wrong temperature and stuck to the teeth.
The Purefoy Arms is a little hidden gem which does so many things right – an appealing menu, sensible pricing and well thought out wine list. The chef here clearly puts a lot of love into the sourcing of produce particularly the beef served here. If you are anywhere near the area and looking for some good grub, then you should definitely drop by here!