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In The Press

The Daily Echo (10th January 2012)
Taste with Jenny Davies

The premise of this blog being to report back on the best thing I have cooked or eaten in the last week, I have simply got to feature the completely fabulous meal we had at the Three Tuns, Bransgore, last weekend.

Immediately upon entering the pub, you feel at home. I am sure you'll all have had the nerve-jangling experience of walking into a pub only to have everything stop while all eyes swivel towards you and watch as you nervously make your way to the bar. Not here.

The first thing we noticed was the Dandie Dinmont terrier who was enjoying greeting everyone. Now any pub that is dog-friendly, is okay by me.

Whilst we were there, a steady stream of canines entered and left - and in fact we had to negotiate a big old black Labrador who seemed intent on getting his tail trodden on, on the way out.

The waitress quickly arrived to take our drinks order and to leave the menu. Not everyone was having a starter and those who didn't indulge weren't made to feel uncomfortable – which makes a pleasant change!

For my starter, I immediately pounced upon the Soft Shelled Crab with garlic & saffron dip and pickle. This was the first time I had ever tried a Soft Shelled Crab (which is a crab which has recently moulted its old exoskeleton and is still soft) but I'd seen them being prepared on the TV and had made a mental note to try one.

The crab had been dipped in batter and deep fried and the batter was as crispy and light as a new five pound note, whilst being flavoursome yet not overpowering to the delicious light crab flavour.

The garlic & saffron dip was more of a mayonnaise than a dip, strictly speaking, and took the form of a very cheffy smudge across the plate. However, we can forgive the chef that, as the flavour of the dip accentuated and enhanced the crab to perfection.

A little light relief was created by the pickle of vegetables that had been subtly pickled and provided a welcome acidic note, without wiping out your taste buds. I thoroughly enjoyed this course and would happily go back for more.

Moving on to main course, I went completely off piste for me and ordered the Rabbit Pie with Prunes & Mashed Potato, together with seasonal vegetables.

My individually baked Rabbit Pie consisted of a suet crust - which appeared to have had cheese included in it, which was a touch of brilliance that I'll have to reproduce in my next suet crust - and was just thick enough to qualify as pillowy, without taking up two thirds of the pie dish.

The rabbit below was soft, juicy and totally delicious. Mixed with New Forest Penny Bun mushrooms and carrot that had been so finely chopped as to almost be invisible, the flavours were richly rounded and a complete joy.

The mash was as it should be - creamy and capable of standing to attention, as opposed to creamy and slushy. The prunes were sweet and jammy and went so very well with the rabbit and indeed, with the potato. The seasonal vegetables were a lovely mix of brussels sprouts, green beans, Chantenay carrots, broccoli and sugar snap peas.

The one negative regarding this dish was that I felt it required a small jug of cooking juices from the rabbit that you could have poured over your vegetables. Without that, it was all a little dry - but so long as you eked out the cooking juices from the pie, it was perfectly acceptable and so totally delicious.

For me, the excitement was building as we came to the dessert course. I was completely intrigued to see what they had on offer that was described in such a way that it seemed completely unfeasible as a dish.

The dish of my choice – Chocolate soup with carrots & beer - that arrived was by far and away the most intriguing, surprising and delightful of the entire meal.

Firstly, a soup bowl was set before you, in which were three baignettes shaped like short stubby cigars, which turned out to be a sweet shredded carrot & (I think!) cardamom mix that had been dipped in a beer batter, deep fried and coated in icing sugar.

These three were surrounded by a foam of rich, deeply hoppy flavoured beer. Now this foam didn't disappear as time went on - it maintained its foaminess to the end, which is something quite amazing that none of us can quite work out how it was achieved.

The chocolate soup was presented in a separate jug that - like the soup earlier - was poured at table. Marvellous!

To think that this superbly complex and totally delicious dish comprised four main flavours of carrot, cardamom, beer and chocolate, is just incredible. Hubby even admitted to having a slight case of course envy, which wasn't assuaged by having tasters of the component parts.

The meal progressed exactly as it should, in that the waitressing was attentive and accurate, waiting staff were easy to apprehend for extra drinks and the clearing of each course was achieved with the minimum of fuss.

The staff all appeared friendly with a ready smile and were happy to exchange a comment or two, as necessary.

We all had a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours at The Three Tuns and can't wait for the next opportunity to visit.

• Jenny's review was done without the co-operation of the establishment or the Daily Echo.



Food and Drink Magazine

September 30th 2010

Situated on the edge of the tranquil New Forest National Park and only ten minutes from Christchurch High Street, the 17th-Century Three Tuns Inn simply exudes traditional charm. With its thatched roof and cosy low-beamed ceilings, you’ll find a welcoming atmosphere from the moment you step inside. Unsurprisingly, The Three Tuns enjoys a busy trade all year round. In summer the patio area offers a delightful setting in which to sit back and take in the beautiful views, whilst in winter you can enjoy a hearty Sunday roast beside the open log fire.

Head chef Colin Nash (chef profile page 53) and his dedicated team pride themselves on using the finest local produce wherever possible, with sea bass and lobster fresh off the boat in Mudeford, and venison and wood pigeon from the forest. To start I ordered the spicy crab soup; it was full of flavour, the peppery spice subtle enough to offset the sweetness of the crab perfectly. My partner’s starter of Dorset snails were a must-try, carefully cooked and sitting in individual thimblefuls of tarragon butter. A beautifully succulent breast of Dorset pigeon with pak choi, asparagus, apricots, almonds and polenta followed. From the specials board, my partner chose the pan-fried Mudeford sea bass with a fricassée of squid, tomatoes, olives, artichokes and Dauphinois; and from the smile on his face it was obvious he was happy with his choice.

The desserts sounded too good to miss, so my partner chose sticky toffee pudding with vanilla pod ice cream, while I was intrigued by the tropical ‘egg ‘n’ soldiers’. The presentation of both was outstanding. I won’t say too much about the ‘egg ‘n’ soldiers’ as it would only ruin the surprise, but take my advice: on a visit to The Three Tuns, you simply must try it.

As well as fantastic food, The Three Tuns offers five cask ales and an extensive wine list, with several wines available by the glass. So whether you visit to sample some of the region’s best produce or just to enjoy the atmosphere with a drink at the end of the day, The Three Tuns has it all.




Two AA rosettes for
The Three Tuns
at Bransgore

An award thoroughly deserved says Jonathan Lloyd

since it was taken over in June 2005. Not only has it received a
listing in the Egon Ronay Gastro Pub Of The Year book and a
Cask Marque award for the high quality of beer but it has
recently been awarded the coveted two AA rosettes accolade,
which the AA tells me denotes ‘one of the best local restaurants
offering higher standards and better consistency’. Mix these
ingredients with the fact that it is a proper 17th century New
Forest thatched village pub, thankfully without canned music
and TVs and mercifully no fruit machines, and it was time for
Anthea and I to go there en famille for lunch.
There are two bars, beams and inglenooks and a restaurant
area at one end. Outside offers a huge terrace for alfresco
dining and also a renovated barn for events and parties.
We were warmly greeted by co-owner Peter Jenkins and
soon afterwards I met the new head chef, Colin Nash, ex-
Langan’s Brasserie, who emphasized that during the last 12
months he and his kitchen brigade have elevated the cuisine
from English to English and continental. The creative menus
certainly reflect his philosophy. Seasonal local produce is
served and everything is home-cooked – even the salmon is
smoked on the premises.
I had roast halibut polenta and a fricassée of artichoke,
salsify, olives and squid. Anthea tucked into roasted skate on
red cabbage, which was served with a mustard sauce, and her
mother chose the most wonderfully arranged crispy duck with
egg noodles and hoisin sauce; this came in a special oriental
noodle box, which was a lovely touch.
This was not any old pub food. Presentation was
exceptional, in fact near to a work of art, and the taste was to
die for. There is a varied choice of desserts and in the line of
Compass duty we shared three of them. Do try the banoffi pie
and the honey-roasted quince with tonka bean panna cotta:
they are simply sensational.
I can now understand why this pub is winning awards, and
I recommend a visit as soon as possible for a fine dining
experience. _
During the last 12 months the kitchen
brigade have elevated the cuisine from
English to English and continental.

Ray Neil visits The Three Tuns
Ray Neil, November 2005
Compass South Magazine

Joy of joys, I recently discovered an old chocolate box English pub, not full of smoke, but absolutely pristine. There was no music, no fruit machines, just good old-fashioned conversation and interaction and of course, real ale.

Add to that the news, hot off the press, that the pub has just been awarded a place in the Egon Ronay Gastro Pub of the Year listings for 2006 because of the quality of the food and you have The Three Tuns at Bransgore.

New owner Peter Jenkins is front of house having taken over six or so months ago, and wow has he made a difference! With chef Sera Burridge, who spent 11 years at Langanís Brasserie and a brand new support team, the whole operation is geared to customer satisfaction and that is precisely what we got when we visited.

Dorothy was delighted with the warm and comfortable atmosphere and with a pint of Ringwood best in front of me, I was soon studying the list of daily specials and noticed the prices were very competitive.

Dorothy chose the chefís chicken samosa, which came with spicy mango chutney and a generous helping of green salad leaves. She wouldn'tít give me a taste, which says it all really and my special of scallop, prawn and sea bass cooked on skewers and served with a gorgeous herb risotto was absolutely delightful.

Pan-fried tuna loin with crayfish sun dried tomatoes and asparagus tagliatelle was Dorothyís main course and she wouldnít give me any of that either! I opted for the Balmoral Estate venison casserole cooked with root vegetables and wonderful herb dumplings and served with a dish of new potatoes, and was away with the fairies. This was good, tasty English food at its best. To end the meal, we shared an orange and caramel panacotta between us, which was spot on too.

Sunday lunch at £8.95 for this sort of quality is a steal and I am told that the summer barbecues in the garden outside are very popular too. Peter and his team are going to be very busy so make sure you book early.

Jonathan Lloyd finds a new local
Jonathan Lloyd, December 2005
Compass South Magazine

Call me old-fashioned, but I do like a proper pub that actually feels like a pub and following Ray Neilís strong recommendation in last monthís Compass, I popped into the Three Tuns in Bransgore to see what all the fuss was about.

I didnít have time to have a meal in the restaurant which has a listing in the Egon Ronay Gastro Pub of the Year book but I did have a couple of pints of real ale and a light bite in the bar and I now see why Ray gave it such a rave review.

I also had a good natter with Nigel Glenister who is very hands-on and welcoming. Iím desperately looking for a new local and Iím going to use The Three Tuns on a regualar basis from now on as it has just the right ambience.  


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