A COUNTRY pub in the heart of the city – that was Max Greenwood’s aim when he opened The Rockstone last month.

And with its wood panelling, roaring fire, notable absence of TVs showing sport or a jukebox and the warm welcome everyone gets, it’s fair to say he has succeeded.

Max bought the pub – which used to be called the Bevois Castle, in Onslow Road, Bevois Valley, in November 2010 and it took a year to complete its transformation into The Rockstone.

But there is more to being a country-style pub than just the atmosphere – there’s the menu.

Food is at the heart of this pub and it’s not just any food: it’s local food.

Around 80 per cent of the food on the menu is from Hampshire and of the food that isn’t most of it is British.

Local food has always been close to Max’s heart.

“It wouldn’t have any appeal if we were using mass-produced ingredients,” says the 29-yearold who is also the pub’s executive chef.

“If I had to use boxed up ingredients and things like frozen burgers, my heart wouldn’t be in it – it’s not something you can get excited about.”

For Max, local food appeals on a number of levels.

As someone who has always been passionate about cooking, he loves working with top quality ingredients and being able to be creative with fresh produce.

“You can put a personal touch on it, you know where it comes from, feel part of the community and a chain that’s supporting other local businesses,”

he explains.

“We’re able to offer better quality to our customers without it having to be at a high price.”

Because Max works directly with producers he is able to offer his customers an unusual service.

“We can do special requests,” he explains.

“For example, we don’t have lobster on the menu yet but we can order it in and have it 24 hours later.”

At the moment food makes up around 55 per cent of the business at the Bevois Valley pub, which is already a popular evening venue and Max is hoping to attract more lunchtime diners to increase that percentage still further.

And while his biggest sellers – such as Hampshire pork ribs and a sausage sharer platter – are meat, he is looking to increase for vegetarians and vegans.

The pub has special nights, such as two steak meals for £10 on Wednesdays, with a full menu also available, and has just launched Sunday roasts.

“I have always wanted this to be a food-led pub,” says Max.

Food is my passion.”

The Rockstone
63 Onslow Road,
Bevois Valley,