I was surprised to discover that the Hampshire Life 2011 Restaurant of the Year, and Chef of the Year both went to a little fish restaurant about ten minutes from my house in the Forest. I'd had recommendations for Verveine, but somehow it had landed in my radar with more of a plink than a splash. I've complained about the lack of a decent fishmonger in our area (ridiculous when you live on the coast), and suddenly Verveine re-emerged into my consciousness.
Upstairs we had a lovely glass of fizz, and some little bar snacks including some excellent gordal olives, some honeyed cashew nuts, and a home-made seed mixture with fennel and pumpkin seeds - it smelt absolutely amazing.
|Ben's menu for the evening|
I've been a huge admirer of Ben since I tasted his food at Roganic - I've even been the proud owner of Ben's mince pies for the Mince Pie project. There was never any question that Ben would find his way in the world, and though this meal wasn't perfect, I'm amazed he was able to produce anything at all from such a ridiculously tiny kitchen. I'd follow Ben anywhere to eat his food, and nothing has changed that opinion!