In September last year, Tiff and I foolishly decided to take Tilly for a two-day hike from Cheriton near Alresford to Winchester and back.
With only a few miles to go on day two, we were exhausted. Worse, we’d run out of snacks and water. I wasn’t sure we if were going to make it. A phone call for a taxi was beckoning.
We were somewhere between Winchester and Alresford. I looked at the map – it didn’t look as though any of the small villages on our route would have a shop where we could stock up.
Then, after we crossed a wooden bridge over the fast-flowing River Itchen, a pub suddenly appeared through the trees. Our own little oasis in a desert of dehydration.
After several packets of crisps and orange juice and lemonades, we were energized and quickly on our way. But we vowed to return, especially as dogs are welcome here.
The pub we stumbled upon in our time of need was the Bush Inn in Ovington. We finally returned today, 15 months after our first visit, for a Saturday lunch.
I fancied something different today. So I wasn’t expecting to continue my search for Hampshire’s best burger.
In fact, there wasn’t a burger on the menu. Then I saw the specials board and gave in… A lamb burger is a little different, isn’t it? Yeah, I reckon so.
About this burger
- Date visited: 12 December 2015
- Name on menu: “Lamb and mint burger with goat’s cheese”
- Price: £13.95
How this burger scored
Dense texture. The mint overpowered the lamb. A bit disappointing.
Chips – 6/10
Well-cooked chips. A generous portion.
However, I’m wondering whether small roasted potatoes with rosemary or some herb-infused salt for the chips would have worked better with the lamb.
Bun – 4/10
Looked good and tasted OK. But was doughy and went a bit flat when I handled it.
Toppings and accompaniments – 6/10
Came with goat’s cheese and a red onion relish in the bun, which worked well with the lamb. I found the cheese quite overpowering though as it was quite a large slab.
There were also some lovely crispy onion rings on the side and few sprigs of watercress.
The Bush Inn is a 17th century pub within casting distance of the famous trout streams of the Itchen.
There are low ceilings with wooden beams across the doorways and bar. Plus there are various taxidermied fish – as well as other other items linked with angling and the local area – on display throughout the pub.
We were lucky to have a cosy seat for two in the corner of the main bar, right next to a beat-up fireplace. Tilly found a nook under our bench to have a sleep and warm her rump on the heat of the fire.
Drinks selection and quality – 4/10
The Bush is a Wadworth pub. So the real ales are limited to that brewery’s selection.
I’ve never been a fan of Wadworth ales and today’s experience hasn’t changed that. Both the beers I tried (“Dray Bells” and “Wadworth IPA”) were unmemorable.
I probably should have gone for the cider – Weston’s “Rosie’s Pig” was on tap.
For wine fans, there are around 20 wines available.
Condiments – 5/5
Ketchup in a bottle – no nonsense.
Presentation – 4/5
Simple delivery on a china plate. Well presented.
Service – 5/5
Attentive, friendly and helpful staff. No problems when we asked if we could switch tables.
Value for money – 4/5
I felt this dish was a couple of quid more expensive than it should have been. But I was happy to pay a bit extra for the lovely atmosphere.
The places that serve “artisan” burgers on chopping boards could learn a thing or two from pubs like the Bush. No penalty points to distribute here.
A score of 51 means that the Bush Inn goes into third place in my search for Hampshire’s best burger.
Although the burger and drinks weren’t that great, I recommend a visit to this pub for the location and the ambiance. (The other items on the menu looked delicious, if you’re wondering.)
Info: The Bush Inn is at Ovington, Alresford, Hampshire SO24 0RE. It’s at the river end of the village, just off the main road. Phone 01962 732764.