It was my birthday last week. A quiet affair with little ceremony this year, but thanks to the timely invite from Giles Thompson (formerly of The Ritz), Owner & Executive Chef of The Earl of March; I was happily able to share a foodie experience and spend some quality girl time with one of my besties.

On a gloriously sun filled spring day, we wound our way through the Sussex hills towards Lavant, (near GoodWood), to the home of this rather humbly understated “Country Pub Restaurant” (with it’s menu, ambience & food values, it’s so much more than that!)

Upon arrival, we entered via the garden, which immediately conjured images of warm hazy evenings full of bubbled chatter – a backdrop of the rolling downs, glowing as the sun sinks low. Even in early Spring, it was just stunning (if perhaps a little chilly for some!)

Inside, the bar area is warm and welcoming with it’s log burning fire, quieter nooks and quirky heritage decor. The main restaurant is airy but maintains an intimate, refined atmosphere.

We were there mid-week, and it was comfortably peopled so as to feel relaxed and able to chat, but not feel overheard or looked. I could easily imagine the weekends would be filled with rosy cheeks & canine companions, families & friends, warming the cockles & filling the belly after one of the many local hearty walks, or a sea-salted trip to the Witterings, perhaps.

It’s the food here that makes “pub/restaurant” a bit of an understatement, though. Locally sourced and seasonal wherever possible, Giles takes the attitude that:

The best ingredients are fresh ingredients, and we are lucky to work with so many local food producers.

Our crab, for example, is hand-caught in Selsey, and all our beef comes from Sussex. We use free range eggs from Hallgate Farm and even sell them in the restaurant to our customers. We also enjoy our wine from the local Tinwood Estate.

For starters, we shared (being lunch time after all!) a salad of grilled halloumi with winter vegetables & truffle vinaigrette. The presentation was rustically simple, which was almost a tease, since the delicious blend of carefully balanced flavours & textures packed a mouthwatering bang!

For main, we went with the very attentive & helpful staff advice and shared the special of Côte de Boeuf. Superbly cooked, and complemented by crispy tripled cooked hand-cut chips & a garlic butter sauce, it was an absolute treat.

And for dessert, well, I was disappointingly rather full, but we managed to sample the plum crumble anyway, which rounded out the meal to perfection.

I think we both came away & spent the afternoon in a delighted foodie haze – concocting plans for Sunday walks & Summer evenings, when the cosy private dining room becomes a seafood shack (by all accounts, the lobster, crab & oysters on offer are top-notch!)

Field Notes:

\\ Go Hungry! Fine dining is on the menu, but the portions are good.

\\ Kids are welcome. There’s a mini gastronaut menu, although I might be tempted to save this one as a grown up retreat!

\\ Starters range from around £7.50-9.50, Mains £15-22, Desserts £5-8.50

\\ There are excellent walks locally and straight from The Earl so it’s worth checking out circular routes if you like to build up your appetite.

\\ There is a private dining room seating 12-14 at no additional fee. Decorated as a huntsman’s lodge, it’s an understated & cosy way to gather as an alternative to the main restaurant.

Huge thanks to Giles & everyone at The Earl of March for inviting us along & providing such a treat! If you’d like to find out more about menus, opening times or events, just click here – treat yourself x