Thinking it was about overdue for an outing with the missus, I decided to take her along to the Compass Inn, Winsor (Copythorne area in the New Forest). I had heard about this pub being dog friendly and, being a huge dog enthusiast, had been eager to visit for some time. After visiting my nan, I figured we would stop in there for a couple of drinks and maybe a bite to eat.
Being that we arrived at around 3:00p.m, we were outside of normal kitchen hours but I figured we would chance it. Immediately upon arrival we were greeted with the friendliest of welcomes by Boris and Hugo. They didn’t say much but then again they didn’t have to since they were of the 4-legged variety. I was promptly informed that Boris (an absolutely gorgeous Jack Russell) was “Top Dog” around these parts. Needless to say I had to spend a few minutes saying “hewwo!” and stroking the gorgeous canine hosts.
My wife, Kim, and I chose a small comfortable table and sat down to admire the décor. Though it is a typical country pub, there is nothing typical about the exquisite and perfectly shiny brass ornamentation and log fire burning invitingly. It was an ideal setting for a cold Winter afternoon. Kim described it as having a homely feel to it.
I went and ordered drinks and to enquire if we were too late or early for food and the lovely landlady, Mop, informed us that though we had arrived outside of normal kitchen hours, they had three dishes available all day; A korma, a madras or a chilli. I got quite excited at the prospect of a chilli and Kim thought that a korma sounded more appealing. Ever conscientious, Mop made sure that we were aware that the pub restaurant was entirely Gluten-free even though it was well advertised both inside and outside of the pub. They even had a gluten-free beer available…
Kim had a large coke and I decided on a lager shandy while we awaited our meals.
As we waited for our food, we spoke with Jan (Mop’s mum) about dogs while she was busy cleaning the brass ornamentation. Looking around further I could clearly see that despite being a dog friendly pub, the standard of cleanliness was exceptional. Pretty soon, there came more pretty pooches; Daisy, Misty and Treacle (the shy one). It’s fair to say I was in heaven.
We were told about the monthly dog walking event (usually the first Sunday of each month). For a meagre £17.50 per person, you start the day with a bacon sarny and a cup of tea or coffee, then go for an hour and a half dog walking expedition (expertly arranged and guided by Mop in order to avoid any treacherous grounds, especially in Winter months) and then on return a roast dinner (or a barbecue, weather permitting). Kim and I are now considering taking my Cocker Spaniel, Winnie, to the next one.
The food arrived and we each received a huge bowl with a generous portion of our chosen meal.
Kim described her Korma as “coconutty but not overwhelmingly so. The rice is well done and overall it seems extremely tasty”.
The chilli was amazing. I had always naively assumed that gluten free food would be a bit bland and tasteless but I could not have been more wrong. It was one of the best I have ever had. It had the right amount of kick to it and was well textured and entirely flavoursome. I agreed with Kim that the rice was done to perfection. Neither of us are usually big rice fans and so when we do have it, it needs to be just right.
As mentioned before, the helping was a generous size but also the temperature of the food was perfect. Not scalding hot but not cool – it was an extremely enjoyable experience. I polished off my meal and did not leave a single grain of rice. Kim did leave a bit of hers but that is primarily because she has more baby than belly there at the moment (the new addition being due in February).
We had another couple of drinks to wash down the food and sat chatting with everyone in the bar (both human and canine). It was such a friendly and cosy atmosphere. The waitress/bartender enquired as to whether we enjoyed our meals and if there was anything else we needed. It was a nice touch and perfectly rounded off a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
As we finished our second round of drinks, we perused the normal menu and spotted several things that we would have also been interested in. The prices seemed extraordinarily reasonable, especially considering that you get a pudding free with all main meals. I took some pictures of the menu to highlight this. They even do doggy dinners for your own canine companion.
Thank you to Mop and family, who have been running the pub for over 20 years, for making this visit such a pleasure. I really don’t have the words to say how pleased we were but well done and we would highly recommend the Compass Inn.
4.5 Paully Stars out of 5 Paully Stars!
Tel: 023 8081 2237