Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vacation! The King Rufus

King Rufus
135 Winchester Road
Chandler's Ford, Hampshire

Historically named after King William II (called Rufus due to his red complexion), whose body was brought through the lovely village of Chandler's Ford enroute from Southampton to Winchester after he was killed in a hunting accident in 1100 A.D., the King Rufus is an old world style pub with two wood-burning fireplaces and a homey atmosphere.

The inviting front door of the pub

The selection of draught beer and real ale at the Rufus is fairly basic - the pub is affiliated with Greene King IPA and also carries two other real ales: Old Speckled Hen and local-ish brewer Ringwood Best. Then it's your basic pub draughts like Stella, Carling, Guinness, Fosters, IPA Chilled and Strongbow Cider. I was surprised to see that they have also recently begun serving up Pivovary Staropramen on draught! It's a very smooth Czech pilsner that I fell head over heels for when we visited Prague last year, and which tastes much better on tap than from a bottle. The pub also serves a varied selection of liquor and wine, including the yummy Pimms #1 Cup.

Hey, look at the special! PIMMS!!

As I rarely turn down an opportunity to have a Ploughman's Lunch, when I saw it listed on the menu it was a no-brainer. Interestingly, when the meal turned up I noticed what looked like a piece of paper baked into the crust of the baguette. I made mention of it to the server, who informed me that the bakery they use is a certified organic baker and the "paper" I found on my bread was actually an edible sugar-stamp applied to the bread to indicate that it has been baked with the highest and strictest organic standard in the U.K. The local baker for the King Rufus's bread is Eleanor at the Deverill Trout Farm in Wiltshire.

Yummy Ploughman's Lunch

The Soil Association Organic Standard sugar-stamp, signifying that the bread is organic

The Ploughman's was perfect: thick wedges of locally sourced cheddar cheese, a simple salad mix, tangy apple chutney, tart pickled onions, a red ripe apple and warm, melt-in-your-mouth, freshly baked organic bread. YUM. It is much more filling than you would expect.

Even though my husband and I sold our nearby 1880's farm-worker's cottage a few years ago, we still consider the King Rufus to be our local pub whenever we return to England to visit friends and relatives. It's large but manages to retain a cozy feel with the help of two massive fireplaces and an assortment of rustic tables and plush leather sofas. It's a nice place to meet up with friends for a pint and a chinwag, which is what we ended up doing a few nights later.

Since we had already eaten a very substantial Sunday lunch prepared by my father-in-law, we weren't very hungry when we met up with the gang at the Rufus that evening, so we opted for a cheese board to nibble on while we were mingling.

Fresh Camembert, extra-mature Devon Cheddar, and Tuxford & Tebbutt Shropshire Blue with an assortment of biscuits and chutney.

The King Rufus has an interesting selection of veggie options to choose from - there's mushroom and goat cheese salad; wild mushroom lasagne; sweet potato, chick pea & spinach curry over basmati and wild rice; baked mushroom & creme fraiche tart with lamb's lettuce; several types of jacket potato, a mushroom-veggie wrap and the awesome Ploughman's.

It's a nice neighborhood pub made even better by the fine selection of vegetarian meals available. Highly recommended.

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