At the suggestion of a couple of friends and a reader, we decided to venture out into the country once again to enjoy the experience of yet another Sunday lunch. Our destination, the Kings Arms at Longham in Ferndown – apparently a popular haunt of Sunday diners and rumoured to serve a ‘wicked’ roast lunch.
Our first impression of the Kings Arms is sadly a little disappointing, for the exterior of the building is really rather plain and lacks any outstanding features. Perhaps the greyness of the winter day colours our mood as in our minds eye we were expecting a quaint and traditional English Country Inn. My partner even quips, ‘it’s not much to look at’, but then again one should never judge a book by its cover!
Arriving early, around 12noon, we lingered in the car park for a few minutes as other eager diners arrive anticipating the very British weekly ritual of the traditional Sunday Roast. Shortly we see those gathered making their way to the entrance as Matthew Martinez, the restaurant manager (we later discover) welcomes us into the warmth of the Inn. It’s a fairly spacious pub that has recently been refurbished with tasteful décor. The main entrance leads directly into the bar area; a cosy lounge to the left furnished with sofa’s and coffee tables, and the dining room straight ahead. The atmosphere is warm and friendly and immediately one feels at home.
The far wall of the Kings Arms is beautifully designed – exposed red brick surrounds a wooden fireplace that boasts a heavy duty wood burning stove. Above the fireplace, a stunning large circular wood-framed mirror hangs beautifully adorned either side by Gustav Klimt prints. There are also other beautiful pieces of art on show throughout the Inn, including wooden sculptures as well as additional framed art for their clientele to muse over.
The restaurant is not uniform in its layout – there are tables of all shapes and sizes from small tables for two, four or more, and several booths for larger parties all beautifully dressed with their own individual vase of fresh flowers – a lovely touch. The furniture is of excellent quality, and it all looks very clean and tidy – no cutting corners here. It is clear that the people who created this lovely English Inn have given much care and thought to the process and offer beautiful furnishings and décor – a welcome change from the insincere staff and tired looking décor of many similar eateries.
Service with a smile
There are several areas one can judge a good restaurant by and I don’t just mean the food, I am talking about the service and atmosphere. As stated before, we were greeted by restaurant manager Matthew Martinez, a man who clearly wants his customers to have an enjoyable dining experience. Matthew settles us into our seats and provides us with two separate menus’ – the regular Kings Arms menu as well as the Sunday Roast special menu, and then gives us a quick rundown of the specials for the day. It all sounds and looks rather mouth-watering and now we are suddenly feeling rather famished!
Sunday Roast at the Kings Arms
The menu at the Kings Arms boasts a mouth-watering selection of culinary delights and several dishes caught our eye especially the appetiser of Portland Crab Cakes on Coriander Pesto & Lime Mayonnaise. Many of the dishes now have us planning a return visit in the very near future for who wouldn’t wish to devour the 10oz Prime Cut (100 day grain fed) Sizzling Ribeye Steak , cooked with rock salt on a sizzling platter with mixed peppers and parmesan truffle wedges, and also the Corn-Fed Chicken Boursin served with Dauphinoise potatoes sounds quite appealing to the taste-buds! However, we have our hearts set on a roast today and there is a generous selection on offer from the Kings Arms Sunday Lunch Roast menu:
- Roast Topside of English Beef with Yorkshire pudding and Creamed Horseradish: £10.00
- Roast Sirloin of Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Creamed Horseradish: £11.50
- Roast Loin of Cider Fed Pork with Apple Sauce and seasoning: £10.00
- Roast Leg of English Lamb with Redcurrant Jelly and Mint Sauce: £10.00
The meals are served with Yorkshire pudding and seasonal vegetables.
On this occasion, I order the Roast Sirloin of Beef, my partner the Roast Loin of Pork. In no time at all our meal arrives hot and steaming to the table.
There are three slices of Roast Sirloin of Beef on my plate – the texture of this beef brings new meaning to the word tender. I could have cut this with a dull knife quite easily. Accompanying the beef is a very large and crisp Yorkshire pudding and three crunchy roast potatoes with gravy. The meal is accompanied by a selection of winter vegetables: cauliflower, red cabbage, carrots, swede and green cabbage, and of course a delicious and creamy horseradish that perfectly complements the beef with that strong tang.
I enjoy the roast lunch at the Kings Arms though would mention that for me, the beef is carved a little on the thin side (a personal thing I imagine), and given the cost, I feel could have been a little thicker. The roast potatoes whilst delicious and crisp seem to lack something (butter perhaps), and the vegetables retain their crispness but again for me, the portion is small – one floret of cauliflower does not really cut it for me.
For many, the traditional English roast sits firmly in the category of comfort food, and with that in mind, we have become accustomed to returning to ‘the Carvery’ counter for a second delicious but unnecessary helping of our particular delight. Instead, when you visit the Kings Arms you walk into a calm, relaxing and professional atmosphere, are treated with respect and the staff are clearly eager to make your experience an enjoyable and memorable one. If you need more of anything, just ask as we did with extra gravy.
My partner orders the Roast Loin of Cider Fed Pork with Apple Sauce and seasoning. For her, the quantity of meat is more than enough to satisfy. The Pork is deliciously tasty especially when combined with the fresh apple sauce and seasoned stuffing though she does note that the meat could be a little more on the moist side! However, lashings of gravy, roast potatoes and the exquisite red cabbage all go to create a fulfilling experience not only for the tastebuds but also the stomach!
I round off my meal with the seasonal berry crumble and custard which is quite yummy (for want of a better word) and absolutely hits ‘the spot’.
Simply put, the Kings Arms at Longham is definitely somewhere I’d recommend you visit for a traditional Sunday lunch, not only for the good food but also for the generous welcome, excellent service and relaxing and friendly ambience.
As the restaurant manager, Matthew clearly knows how to run his restaurant to great effect and this shows up in the way his staff handle themselves as well, and by the number of contented customers, one sees sitting deep in conversation at the many tables that surround us.
The Inn is able to seat between 60-70 guests in the restaurant, and then there’s room for another 30 customers out the back on the patio, weather permitting.
The Kings Arms is one of three English pubs that are owned by Rod and Janette Lamont who have over 30-year’s experience in the pub trade. Their other two locations are the Saxon Arms in Stratton, Dorchester and the Kings Arms in Stoborough, Wareham. All three pubs are listed in the Good Pub Guide and Good Beer Guide 2010-2011, so I’ll be heading in their direction for more enjoyable fine dining very soon.
I strongly recommend that you make a reservation in advance as the King Arms fills up quickly, especially on Sunday.
Directions to the Kings Arms at Longham
The Inn is easily accessible from Bournemouth, just a short drive from the airport:
The Kings Arms
77 Ringwood Road,
T: 01202 577490