Thursday 26 June 2014

Restaurant Reviews - From Gravetye Manor to the Griffin Inn - Two of the Best Places to Eat in Sussex
Restaurant Reviews: Gravetye Manor and the Griffin Inn, two very different places to visit in Sussex, both extremely enjoyable and well worth bookmarking.  Read on if you love your comforts and great food.

Award winning Relais and Chateaux hotel and restaurant Gravetye Manor is the place to visit if you're looking for a luxurious and peaceful country house weekend or for a stop on the way to Glyndebourne.  Staying at Gravetye can set you back a bit, but there are places nearby that are less and you can then treat yourself to a trip up the long drive with amazing views, through the iron gates to an experience you'll want to repeat over and over again.

For those who want somewhere lively and noisy this is not for you, but for elegance and charm, one of the best kept and most beautiful gardens in England and truly excellent food then Gravetye Manor wins hands down.  As well known abroad as it is here (you'll find every language spoken by diners from Japanese to German and those from everywhere in the US), Gravetye is one of those places that should be on your list.  You would think that eating here would be very expensive and indeed it can be, however they also have a set dinner menu - four courses - for £40 at time of writing, and unlike many set menus there's no stinting on the quantities.

Trying out this menu, I had a beautifully green pea soup, made with no dairy and decorated with nasturtiam leaves which made it interestingly colourful.  This was followed by a terrine of layers of smoked salmon, then succulent roasted chicken with vegetables from the garden, and then a totally decadent white chocolate mousse which I kept telling myself I shouldn’t eat but couldn't resist, any more than I could resist the warm onion bread which kept being offered.  Happily I had been for a six mile hike on the Sussex Downs that day but even so.......everything here is delicious.  So don't come if you're on a diet.  You have been warned.

The Griffin Inn, tucked away in Fletching, is completely different, other than the warmth of your welcome and the superb food.  I visited here for a quick lunch before (another) walk on the Downs.  It happened to be Saturday, so I was quite surprised whilst walking in to be The Griffin Inn Restaurant attracted by the scent of barbeque, and smoke coming from a smoking barbeque pit attended by chefs in blue striped aprons.

It can be a little confusing, as you walk in past what looks like a proper pub (bar and all), then a white clothed table restaurant and into a garden which is simply teaming with 'in the know' locals and visitors waiting for their barbequed sardines, lobster or lamb chops, all served with quinoa, arugula and tomato salad with fresh foccacia or pitta bread .  If you want a table restaurant style you had The Griffin Inn Garden Tables better book well in advance.  There are tables set up just outside on the terrace and then they head on down the terraced garden overlooking the Downs and the river Ouse, which are on a first come first serve basis.

The Griffin is close enough to Glyndebourne or on the way down the coast to be the perfect lunch stop on a longish drive, or if you're staying nearby you'll end up wanting to try everything.  The service is quick, friendly and efficient and I just wish I lived nearer.  Although all that wonderful food is totally irresistible.  So perhaps better not.

Gravetye Manor, Vowels Lane, West Hoathly, Sussex, RH19 4LJ.
Tel: 01342 810 567

The Griffin Inn, Fletching, East Sussex, TN22 3SS Tel:
01825 722890