A WELL-KNOWN Hampshire eatery has closed with the loss of about ten jobs after being criticised by customers and food hygiene inspectors.

Le Chanteclerc restaurant and bistro in Newbridge Road, Cadnam, was once dubbed "The Place" to eat in that part of the New Forest but has shut its doors.

Last night a former member of staff said he was owed about £80 in unpaid wages.

He added: "I kept ringing the restaurant to see if I was needed but didn't get an answer. Eventually I rang the owner's mother, who said it had closed."

A New Forest District Council spokesman added: "A routine food hygiene inspection was carried out at the premises last month.

"A few issues were noted and our environmental health team went back to the premises earlier this month to carry out a revisit, but the premises were closed."

The shutdown follows a spate of hostile reviews posted on TripAdvisor in the past few months.

One dissatisfied diner said: "For so long this place was recognised as 'The Place' to eat in the area but now it's just a shadow of its former self.

"Very limited menu, poorly-cooked food, uninterested staff."

Another customer commented: "How to turn a success into a failure and work your way down to the bottom in a few easy months.

"We should have realised when we saw the car park empty - it used to be overflowing."

A fellow diner said: "Poor atmosphere, shabby interior, food not even average. This use to be somewhere special to dine - sadly not anymore."

But other reviews are full of praise for the restaurant, which opened more than 20 years ago.

Asked about the closure Dr Julian Lewis, Tory MP for New Forest East, said: "It's a sad loss to the community generally and to my family in particular. We've regularly enjoyed its distinctive cuisine and friendly atmosphere."

The restaurant's website makes no mention of the shutdown.

It says: "Situated on the edge of the English New Forest, Le Chanteclerc has for some years offered its patrons high quality cuisine and service in the most pleasant of surroundings.

"Our restaurant serves delicious home-cooked local dishes.

"We also have four individually decorated bedrooms, a function suite and a bar area.

"The lively atmosphere at Le Chanteclerc makes it the perfect place to enjoy anything from a quick bite to a three-course evening meal."

The once-thriving business is thought to have employed about three full-time staff and seven part-timers.

The Daily Echo attempted to contact Brian Dawe, listed as director of Le Chanteclerc Ltd, but calls were not returned.