Join us on the weekend of the 13th June to celebrate World Gin Day. We’re offering any double gin and mixer for £5 and jugs of Chilgrove Gin cocktails for £15. We will also have delicious Juniper and Chilli infused olives to snack on or some O’Hagan’s Chilgrove & Pork Sausages. We hope you can join us for a drink (or two).
‘Can We? Shall We? One day very soon, let us go away together just you and me. Can We? Shall We? Call in sick one day and travel to the sea and hold hands all day. Can We? Shall We? Eat our sandwiches on the train, get drunk on fresh air and come home tired and never tell anyone…. Ever.’
There is something so indulgent about taking an impromptu day off and heading off somewhere you know you won’t bump into someone you know. So when The Earl of March invited me down to their countryside coaching inn, near Goodwood, it seemed a perfect opportunity to do that.
There are many places to explore and walk en route or near The Earl of March but my recommendation would be a refreshing visit to the amazing West Wittering beach (an expanse of sandy beach) or an explore of the neighbouring Kingley Vale – a national nature reserve. There’s also any of the walks listed here.
We opted for a stop off in Arundel and a walk along the river before heading back to the A27 to complete our journey. You’d be forgiven for thinking the areas around the A27 might be slightly bland as the journey along it is just that but actually as we pulled off and past Goodwood we were really quite blown away by how gorgeous it was.
The Earl of March itself sits just before Lavant, a small village which is the gateway for the southern side of the South Downs. What was so nice about it was the unbroken link to the countryside – the only thing separating you from the field of high grass is a minimal fence so you really get a sense of English countryside which is only heightened by the biplanes taking off from Goodwood airstrip. You can see how William Blake was inspired to write the words to Jerusalem sitting at the back window of the pub in 1803. We chose to eat our meal inside despite the weather being rather wonderful, but instead decided to move outside after the main for coffee and dessert. I’m not sure what it is for me with eating hot food outside, unless it’s barbecued it doesn’t seem right somehow! The staff were really accommodating and jiggled a few things around so I was able to have the dog sat with us while being near a window (for both photos and views purposes).
The Earl of March is owned by Giles Thompson, a charming countryman who was previously the executive chef at The Ritz and has 2 AA rosettes and an RAC award under his belt from his time at Danesfield House. On chatting to Giles, you get the sense the local area is held in his heart and the pub being a hub of the community is really important to him. The pub still has such a sense of the traditional coaching inn of it’s former life at the bar but with a comfortable, light dining area also.
The food at The Earl is incredible – fine out dining where the portions are actually generous! And there was a real sense of the countryside about all the food we ate – they source everything locally and the food also reflects the seasons. I could really imagine coming here in the winter and hunkering down in front of one of the fires with a haunch of venison.
But this time I chose a starter of Pan Fried Pigeon Breast, Braised Chicory, Beetroot and Horseradish Pistachio Pastille. I’d never eaten pigeon before but it has definitely got me hooked – rich and deeply pink it melted in my mouth and was perfectly complimented by the other elements of the dish. My fellow diner (Suzanne) chose Steamed Mussels in Cider & Parsley Cream and the gorgeous bread left over from before our starter was appreciated by both of us as we mopped up the remaining sauce once all the mussels had gone – it would have been a crime to leave it, it was buttery, creamy and delicious.
My main, with my weakness for samphire and salsify, could be no other than South Coast Stone Bass, Roast Salsify, Sweetcorn, Warm Samphire Potato Salad and Cockle Butter. The skin of the bass was ohh and ahh inducingly crisp and the sweetcorn was an unexpectedly brilliant addition to the meal. My companion chose Pan Roast Breast of Duck, Thyme Poached Carrots, Pickled Pear, Wild Mushroom Polenta with Kale & Chestnut which really was quite incredible (we of course tasted each other’s dishes!) – a forkful of beauty!
We both commented on how the food felt really down to earth (especially on the stoneware plates) while being very cleverly crafted for flavours that perfectly complement each other. I also had a great chat with the assistant manager about the local wines and gin – he was clearly very passionate and even bought us a glass of the Blanc de Blanc from Tinwood to try which really was pretty special. It was all topped off by a slice of sticky toffee pud with salted caramel sauce and a coffee in the garden which was the perfect end to a wonderfully indulgent few hours enjoying the view from this brilliant countryside gem.
Had we more time we perhaps would have considered what was on at the close by Chichester Festival Theatre (for which the Earl offers a pre theatre menu) or even picked up the Centurion Way which the pub sits right on for a post lunch ramble or cycle (I have my eye on this circular ride) but it’s solidly on the list of things to do as I can’t wait to return.
So, whether you go this weekend, or you treat yourself to a cheeky day off, the Earl of March is a perfect retreat that encompasses amazing food, excellent staff, gorgeous location and an honest interior. If you have kids there’s plenty of room for them to roam and dogs are welcome in the bar and garden. Go check out the menus on the website and get planning a visit to Lavant.
It’s not often being gluten free that you can head out for dinner and head to somewhere unique. Unfortunately these days it seems to be the chain restaurants that are heading up the allergy free food. However not you’ll be happy to know if you live in Sussex!
The Earl of March is a beautiful country pub restaurant with views over the gorgeous South Downs and Goodwood. In fact one my favourite poems – Jerusalem was written by William Blake sitting in the rooms looking out over these gorgeous views. It’s easy to see what inspired him!
The views alone require a visit I think but just wait until you’ve sampled the food. I was happily assured by their staff that the chef wouldn’t need any prior warning and could make whatever I ordered up gluten free on the day. The Earl of March was taken over by Giles Thompson in 2007 (former executive head chef at the Ritz) and his dishes shine through with talent. Simple but amazingly scrumptious they are full of flavour and beautifully presented.
Incredibly family friendly we turned up with our two boys and were greeted with smiles all evening by the staff and fellow customers. Immediately they bought out bread to starve off their hunger and were quick on the ordering. Determined to try the full range we all ordered something different and in all honestly were swept away at each mouthful – boys included. Their meals were simple but perfect! They chose from the mini gastronauts fabulous tasting sausages with mash or Chicken breasts with chips. Wonderfully delicious and perfect sizing for growing boys!
We however decide to choose their set menu (£19.50 for 2 courses of 3 for £21.50) and started off with Pork Rillettes. Beautifully done with red wine poached pears, celeriac & cornichons and topped with toasted hazelnuts each mouthful was full of flavour. Incredibly tasty it was the perfect way to start.
My husband then went for mussels and I went for the Roast Pave of Local Cod, with bacon parsley & corn crumb with a warm samphire & potato salad. The mussels were amazing, in a beautiful sauce accompanied with chips and bread to soak up the sauce I think I might just revisit for these alone!
The cod was cooked to perfection and melted in your mouth. Cooked to perfection it flaked under fork and the added flavours just tipped it over. Perfect and of course gluten free!
Dessert next and we both went for the crumble. Pear, blackberry & almond crumble with Lemon sorbet. Rather than a boring oat topping for my gluten free dessert they produced a beautiful nut topping which tasted divine against the fruits and lemon sorbet just stopped it being too rich.
A stunningly simple but gorgeous meal every bite had been cooked to perfection. The beautiful food aside the staff were fabulous, double checking the allergies for us at every turn, they were great with boys who were never left to get bored and the clientele were great too. I also noticed as were leaving around the corner towards the bar they had cushy seats with a range of books to borrow while you ate there or popped in.
We will most definitely be back whether it’s for a light snack or a just because meal! The prices were reasonable especially when you consider who the chef was, lovely service and wonderful food. An all-round fantastic gluten free friendly restaurant! 5 stars!
Getting out of the city for bank holiday weekend is a clichéd but wonderful feeling. We arrive at Chichester train station after an hour and a half on the train from Victoria leaving all the rush and frantic pace of London 4 glorious days away. As chance would have it a lovely chap called John in his old London taxi collected us and drove us the less than 10 minute drive to The Earl of March. John was regaling us with stories of how the gastro-pub used to sit more in the spit and sawdust category but told us fond memories of the Jazz nights that used to go on into the small hours of a Thursday night.
The Earl of March is situated in a beautiful countryside spot with a magical garden which will really come alive in the summer, having had a whiff of the Great British Summer this weekend this is a very exciting prospect. We were warmly greeted and shown to the table that I must have changed the dates, times and number of at least seven times prior to arriving, each time they were as pleased to help as the last.
We ordered a bottle of prosecco to the table and breads and butter swiftly followed. There is a fine line between a slow pace and a relaxed pace when it comes to service and The Earl of Mach gets it just right with the cosy surroundings and overly warm staff, they certainly err on the side of relaxation.
The menu struck us as being very traditional and British pubby with classics such as fish and chips done to perfection and added modern pizzazz with elements such as champagne risotto to bring it into the desired realm. We all had exceptional starters which is often a worry because a meal needs to build and crescendo.
On the right is the scallops with black pudding which was simply divine. This combo has become something of a classic now, but done well with good quality ingredients this boat need not be rocked. To the left is the pigeon starter – is was fascinating with many intriguing elements to explore.
The champagne risotto on the left and venison to the right. The venison was perfectly pink and had rich jus to complement it perfectly. The duck egg on the Champagne Risotto really stole the show. Who knew an egg could be slow boiled for two hours to craft the most succulent gooey ness in a yolk with later learnt this is called a ‘sous-vide’ egg. We were so intrigued after interrogating the poor waiter that we Google the technique – check here if you are intrigued.
Regrettably we did have one criticism and that was of the desserts which we felt were a slightly greedy indulgence anyway but disappointing none the less. The brownie was tasty but dry and we had to summon extra sauce, naming it a biscuit would have been far fairer. The crumble was tasty and well presented and the lemon sorbet accompaniment was surprisingly good. But the crumble just lacked either the thick buttery indulgence of a traditional crumble topping or the novelty of a fun twist on a classic – the lemon wasn’t quite enough.
However overall we were over the moon to find another southern local restaurant to stand above the average pubs and predictable high street chains that have become only too familiar. This is was a welcoming yet sophisticated affair which would be appropriate for a special occasion or simply a quick dinner. Very much looking forward to seeing the garden in all its glory in the ever more quickly approaching summer months.
The Earl of March, Lavant, West Sussex
We’d been invited to The Earl of March, country pub and restaurant in Lavant, West Sussex and as it was on our ‘must do’ list, how could we refuse? It is owned and run byGiles Thompson the former Executive Head Chef of The Ritz in London. It specialises in game and seafood, as it is a country pub but is also close to the sea.
We booked a table for 7pm and there were already a few customers finishing their meals, as they’d obviously come for the set menu which is available between 12 – 2 and 5 – 7pm and is great value, 2 & 3 courses for a reasonable price.
The Earl of March has a very nice ambience indeed. It was warm and cosy with cream walls, low ceilings, softly lit with down-lights and candles and light music played in the background. Upon the walls were black and white photos of Spitfires and other old aircraft as well as vintage cars, as it’s not too far from Goodwood Aerodrome and racing circuit.
We were warmly welcomed and served by two very nice ladies throughout the evening. A jug of water was placed on the table straight away along with the wine and food menus. There was also a chalk board showing a good selection of specials. The haggis sounded great and so too did the surf & turf.
We were given a selection of bread served with spreadable butter. Fresh brown bread plus a few slices of tasty focaccia with rosemary, which was excellent. Geoff was very pleased with his starter the French onion soup, which was quite thick with lots of onions and topped off with a large crouton with melted Gruyère cheese. Geoff’s not a fan of cheese but ate the lot and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I order the Tartin of roast red onion & beetroot with goat’s cheese ice-cream for my starter. This was presented really well. Chunks of cooked white beetroot, tiny cubes of carrot jelly, candied nuts which were nice and sweet, as was the onion tart. On the top of the tart was the goats cheese ice-cream – this was still a little hard and frozen unfortunately but was still very nice and it went very well with the sweetness of the tart.
Geoff had the sirloin steak, hand cut chips, grilled field mushroom and tomatoes and garlic butter. The steak was superb. Tender, juicy and lean. The only disappointment were the chips which tasted of nothing. It was a shame as they looked quite crispy.
I chose the slow roast shoulder of Southdown lamb, crispy sweetbreads, roast roots, Anna potatoes, Port wine jus. This dish was so tasty. The lamb was very tender and just fell apart, the Anna potatoes were not unlike Dauphinoise potatoes but without the cheese sauce. The sweetbread was in a crispy breadcrumb but I’m afraid they were too chewy for me, although Geoff ate the half I gave to him. The thick slice of roasted parsnip was nice and soft and the jus was rich, sticky and to die for.
Geoff enjoyed his dessert which was mulled berry crumble and ice-cream. The berries had a lovely sharpness to them.
Of course, I went for the triple chocolate brownie as I adore chocolate. This was served with a few large berries, chocolate sauce, some sort of soil and some micro celery leaves to garnish. The brownie was delicious and served slightly warm with the centre oozing out. Thetoffee & honeycomb ice-cream was tasty too. I’m rather a connoisseur on brownies and I gave it 9/10.
We enjoyed a nice bottle of Tempranillo Rioja with our meal and after our desserts we each had an espresso. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and we were comfortably full.
The lounge area looked very comfortable and cosy with leather sofas and an open fire. Magazines and books are available to read and also dominoes and playing cards if you fancied a game. At the rear of the restaurant is a large garden and outdoor seating area which over-looks the pretty countryside. The Earl of March can be hired for weddings and private parties. It’s on the Midhurst Road and is only a few minutes drive away from Chichester if you want some retail therapy, a country walk at West Dean Gardens, a spot of history at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum (both in the opposite direction) and of course, Goodwood.
Ambience – 9
Value – 7
Service – 9
Quality – 8 (because of the chips)
Living life, loving cake,