JSW (short for Jake Saul Watkins) is a Michelin starred restaurant in the Hampshire town of Petersfield. Set in a 17th century former coaching inn complete with wooden beams, the dining room has lots of character – you feel like you’re eating somewhere that has a history.

We arrived for a weekday lunch at 1pm and were the only diners there – needless to say the atmosphere was a little flat and very quiet. By 2pm it got busier which took away that awkward silence.

The set lunch menu available was two courses for £19.50 or three for £25 which is served Tuesday-Friday.

Some crunchy crostini’s served with chicken liver and foie gras parfait with mushroom duxelle topped with sauterne jelly and a smoked haddock brandade started proceedings. The brandade (an emulsion of salted fish and olive oil) was silky smooth and totally moreish.

A generous selection of homemade breads was next. Although looking a little pale in colour they really were delicious – and warm. You can’t beat warm bread and salty butter!

My starter of pork cooked two ways with black pudding crust and cumin was a meat feast – everywhere I looked there was pork. It was very enjoyable to eat but maybe a little too rich and heavy for a starter – but because I’m a pig I gladly wolfed it down. The thinly sliced sharp apple was greatly needed as it cut through the richness of that pork.

My main of slow cooked chicken, mash and asparagus did exactly what it said on the tin – but did so rather wonderfully. Creamy buttery mash, perfectly cooked asparagus and chicken that was majorly moist – each mouthful was an explosion of simple yet delicious flavours.

For dessert I opted for the “strawberry cheesecake” and it certainly is a cheesecake Jim, but not as we know it. There was fresh strawberries, a strawberry puree, a strawberry sorbet and little tubes of cream cheese – the only thing missing from this deconstructed dessert was the crunch that you’d get from the biscuit base. It really needed the contrasting texture. Other than that, this pud looked and tasted great.

Service was really friendly and very attentive but not stuffy. Although the atmosphere was a little dead at the beginning, we were made to feel more than comfortable.

If I lived in the area I’d become a regular but as I don’t, I’m glad I visited. If you’re passing through and want a delicious lunch – this is the place to go.


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