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Review from OneTinyLeap

By | Reviews

Possibly the Best Pub Lunch in Sussex?

A hearty walk in the Sussex countryside should always be followed by a good pub lunch.

Last week we were invited to stay at the lovely Woodstock Suites in Charlton, and to eat that evening at the Earl of March in nearby Lavant, a picturesque little village about five miles from the cottages.

The pub overlooks the rolling hills of the South Downs, with a large patio perfect for basking in the summer sunshine, with a cold beer or a glass of bubbly (I prefer the latter). We hadn’t been so lucky with the weather so booked a table inside the pub. The décor was instantly appealing – modern yet cosy, with spacious brooms lit by plenty of natural light.

Run by Giles Thompson, formerly the Executive Head Chef at the Ritz Hotel in London, I was expecting big things, and boy, did it deliver. It’s sometimes difficult for us to have this kind of dining experience in a family-friendly setting, so this was a promising treat.

We had booked the table for 6pm, so the restaurant wasn’t yet too busy. The very friendly waiting staff seated us quickly, and quickly brought us the kids menu, sweetly dubbed ‘for Mini Gastronauts’.

I love the creative dishes’ names – it’s the little things that matter, and someone had clearly given them some thought. Soon after, we were given some huge crayons for Charlie to play with, even before he even asked for some. We had brought some activity books along, so he was delighted with them.

For once eschewing his beloved fish ‘n’ chips, he plumped for bangers and mash, or ‘Pork Snorkers with Yummy Mash & Gravy‘, which we all agreed looked absolutely delicious, and disappeared within moments!

As a family, we really appreciate the staff being so nice and friendly with our son – it made our experience exponentially better.

Our own menu was positively droolworthy. Rob started with the Henfield Oak-smoked salmon, with potato blinis and creme fraiche, while I had ‘Textures of Seasonal Asparagus, Slow Cooked Crispy Hen Egg, Forager’s Hollandaise’.

My plate was a real foodie experience – the plate itself was beautiful and creative, full of textures from an asparagus mousse to the tempura, plus the perfectly runny crispy hen egg oozing out of its crispy coating, all of which were real winners for me – I’m still salivating thinking of it.

Our starters were followed swiftly by a pot-roasted lemon sole for Rob, accompanied by crushed peas, Jersey potatoes and a sauce of brown shrimp and caper butter, whilst I had chosen the fillet steak, which can sometimes be a boring, safe choice, but it was much recommended to us, so I had to say to oblige and say yes. The meat was flavour-full, a tender medium-rare piece cooked to perfection, drizzled with a mouth-watering rich sauce – a true melt-in-your-mouth experience that I can still remember.

We didn’t really need dessert, but couldn’t not ask for the menu. I never seem to be able to resist it when I read the words Sticky Toffee (which was served with Salted Caramel Sauce, Toffee & Honeycomb Ice Cream), and Rob opted for a mouthwatering strawberry crumble dessert (sorry I didn’t write it down and forgot exactly what it was – but just look at the picture to your left and imagine how good that tasted).

The entire meal was beautifully cooked, well-presented, and delivered by friendly and helpful staff. One of the things I’ve always loved about the UK is its country pubs, and the Earl of March in Lavant is without doubt one of the best I’ve ever had the good fortune to dine. If you ever find yourself in West Sussex, especially if you’re visiting nearby Goodwood, make sure you book a table at the Earl of March – I promise, you won’t regret it.

You can also enjoy a proper Sunday lunch at the Earl of March, which I can’t wait to try out. I mean, every Sunday lunch deserves Oysters as a starter, wouldn’t you agree?

 

Customer Feedback

By | News, Reviews

It’s always a pleasure to receive feedback from our customers:

Sir

I just wanted to e-mail you following an evening meal I had at The Earl of March on Monday evening. I don’t think I have written a feedback e-mail for years and years so it must have been memorable!

I was with my wife and three sons (11,10 and 8) and wanted a pub meal at the end of a day exploring the South Downs before coming home to Fulham, London. We stopped off with no plans and – as ever – having no idea what to expect. Pubs can so often divide into two camps – a drinking pub with poor food or a bit of a gastro pub with no ‘pub’ atmosphere and one where kids would definitely be out of place. I see too many of the latter and try to avoid the former, when my wife’s in tow!

It was quiet when we arrived and I thought we had arrived at more of a restaurant and it may not have worked with our kids. Instead, we were instantly warmly welcomed and shown to a table at the bar for a drink or two whilst our table was prepared. Menus were swiftly bought – a kid’s menu, a set menu, a la carte AND a specials board. Since this was a stop off on the way home, I didn’t want to spend a fortune or be there for hours but, equally, wanted some good food in proper, rural surroundings. And that is exactly what we got.

Service from the Head Waiter (perhaps owner or general manager?), barman and waitress was all superb and friendly. Great not to be rushed to order and enjoy a couple of drinks in the bar before being taken over to the restaurant table. The food was superb and, I thought, exceptional value for money. We enjoyed an excellent large glass of wine – sadly no more since we were driving.

One of the normal niggles with kids is their never ending demand for ketchup which always comes in minuscule quantities. We had to keep asking for more but those requests were handled with efficiency and a smile.

I don’t really know what else to say but thanks. A real find. Whilst a Londoner through and through, it is a stop at an establishment like yours that makes me realise what I am missing!

I have no idea if/when I will go down your way again but will certainly always make a point of visiting if I do. I recommend the excellent Singleton Open Air Museum to lots of friends and, in future, will include a recommendation to the Earl of March to ensure they have a great day!

Keep up the good work. Please give my thanks to your kitchen team and all the staff.

Review from Graphic Foodie

By | News, Reviews

PicMonkey Collage GF

Whilst Brighton pub kitchens are hotly competing against one another with every street food trend or attention grabbing concept in the book (innovation and gimmick run a fine line), it’s nice to be treated to some refined, high-end pub food for a change. And, God help me, food not served in either a dog bowl, chopping board or camping tin.

So it was a pleasure to find myself at the Earl of March in Lavant, just outside of Chichester, with gorgeous views over the Sussex Downs. It’s only an hour drive from Brighton but we built up an appetite kicking through the autumn leaves and feeding the cygnets and Swanbourne lake in Arundel on the way. Nice.

The pub garden was full of people cashing in on the last days of summer but we took to the formal dining room inside which was comfortably and tastefully furnished. There’s also a cosy bar area too with just a few quirky touches that nod to their position at Goodwood.

This is at the premium end of pub dining (which you would expect from owner Giles Thompson who was formerly the executive head chef of the Ritz London) but I noticed a well priced set menu (two courses £19.50 or three for £21.50) so we ordered from this and the standard menu to compare.

My starter of Spring’s of Henfield Oak Smoked Salmon is guaranteed to be delicious but they sympathetically and elegantly crafted it with pink peppercorn creme fraiche, a light potato bilini and pickled cucumber to make the perfect light and fresh starter.

The new classic posh pub starter of pig cheek on the set menu was given substance with beans and the crunchy, crumb crust contrasted well with the sweet softness of the meat. A honey and sage sauce forced us to also sneak in a few crafty finger plate licks too.

I’ve always wanted Junior Foodie to try whitebait (I encourage anything with heads, ears, tails.. I don’t want a squeamish child on my hands) thinking he may try one or two for novelty, but he wolfed down the entire portion which I thought was quite generous for a decider course. I snatched one and don’t blame little chap at all for clearing the plate.

The main of guinea fowl was probably the most tender version I’ve tried as it tends to be quite tough. Again it was beautifully presented, served with complementary robust flavours from the oxtail pomme purée and roasted jus. It’s exactly the plate of food I want to see in this sort of place.

My blade of beef from the set menu was a little simpler, but none the less enjoyable with good flavour. I used to be a fillet girl, but have definitely seen the light with slightly less tender but flavour packed cuts. I adored the jus soaked classic boulangere potatoes at the bottom and delicate ribbons of yellow courgette.

It was nice to see the kids fish and chips come out as a decent size and the rough cut chips were cooked and given a good shake before frying as they had the most delicious crispy edges. I may have stolen a few of these like the bad mother I am.

The dessert Mr GF was always going to pick was his staple sticky toffee pudding. I often find this dish to be teeth chatteringly sweet, but this one was nicely balanced and light with just enough naughtiness in the sauce to make it indulgent.

Not something I would normally go for was the Apple Compote. This was an early taste of Christmas with winter spices like cinnamon and star anise and a good hit of festive booze from the Calvados cream. The textures at the bottom layer were particularly gorgeous with plenty of crunchy caramelized nuts to contrast with the sweet reduced apples.

Food is clearly paramount at the Earl of March and I don’t think you could complain about it at all. What I also liked was the presentation. Nothing was superfluous, everything has its place visually and for taste. Pub food in particular is generally suffering a phase of silliness at the moment. Yes, food should be beautiful but not at the mercy of taste and they hit the balance perfectly here.

The only quibble I had was service but I think we had a case of new girl on our hands with our waitress staring blankly at the till for a forever rather than look after the tables.We were also not shown the specials board, which with lamb rack and wild mushroom gnocchi, Yorkshire grouse and Hampshire venison with gooseberry gastrique on made me stick out my bottom lip when I noticed it later. I think she also forgot to add the kids meal but the kitchen, clearly powered on rocket fuel, managed to produce it in no time, without our own meal getting cold or the boy noticing and having a scale ten toddler meltdown. Later on we were served by other members of staff that were friendly, smart and efficient so in general, I think you’d be very well looked after here.

Although at the upper end of the price bracket for pub dining, the quality and location make it well worth the trip from Brighton. I wouldn’t hesitate to return.