AFTER travelling down a dark country lane, the warmth of the Georgian-themed King’s Head pub in Hursley makes an inviting prospect.

An ivy-walled building lying in the village outside Winchester provides an interesting menu which sets taste buds alight.

Glossy wood flooring reflects the light in a pleasant bar area which welcomes visitors to the restaurant.

Although diners can get a drink in there beforehand, you can also head through to the separate dining area with comfortable seating and an elegant decor.

On a dark and wintry night it was nice to enter the warm glow of the pub.

Good service is one thing I hold in high regard and nothing goes further than presenting service with a smile and I found the staff very pleasant and attentive.

After deliberating for some time over the menu I plumped for a pleasingly large array of Ricer Esk mussels cooked in a cider, smoked bake and crème fraiche sauce as my starter.

My friend went for duck served with poached pear and golden raisin puree with Dorset Blue Vinny ice cream. Yes, essentially that’s blue cheese ice cream.

The texture of ice cream mixed with the sour taste of blue cheese is jarring at first, but on the second mouthful becomes something delightful.

For our mains both the rump of lamb and the sea bream were wonderfully cooked and presented with great artistry.

The sea bream came with tiger prawns, mussel and saffron sauce, a char-grilled baby gem and sea salt potatoes.

Root vegetable, and lamb breast boulangère, carrot and orange purée and sweetbreads completed the lamb dish.

But nothing could beat the apple mincemeat with pain perdu and cinnamon ice cream and toffee apples for desert.

The Black Forest gateaux trifle was excellent but the apple mincemeat came out on top.

King's Head, Main Road, Hursley, Winchester, SO21 2JW.

Tel: 01962 775208