Unless you happen to live in or near East or West Sussex you may not have visited any of these restaurants, and if you possibly can you should – they offer some of the best food and service to be found anywhere. Not only that, but at two of them you can stay the night afterwards.
Gravetye Manor – West Hoathly
Gravetye Manor is a 16th Century country manor turned into a luxury hotel with a Michelin starred restaurant. Just south of East Grinstead and a 25 minute drive from Gatwick, this is one of the most gorgeous places to stay and relax.
Gravetye is not the place to bring your kids, although they allow children over 7. There’s nothing aimed at children. It’s not the place, either, for fitness fanatics as there’s no gym although there are plenty of walks and hikes in the Downs and through Ashdown Forest. However its beautiful gardens, tranquillity, fabulous food and excellent service are quite simply perfection.
The restaurant also is not the place for the boisterous, but beautifully appointed and offering up the freshest food (and vegetables mostly from their garden) you’ll find anywhere. There’s also a set ‘Daily Menu’ which at £40 for a three course evening meal is excellent value. And if you happen to not like something on the menu the chef will offer an alternative.
Visitors come from all over the world to Gravetye, mostly, when I was there, to also go to Glyndebourne. It’s about a 40 minute drive away. However it would be pure therapy at any time of year.
Just one thing, if you’re driving away in the darkness be sure to go slowly. There are deer in abundance in the forest and they have a tendency to spring out into the road.
Gravetye Manor Vowels Lane, West Hoathly, Sussex, RH19 4LJ. Tel: 01342 810 567
Jeremy’s Restaurant – Borde Hill
Having been disappointed by two of the local Michelin starred offerings – no I’m not going to say which at this point and it definitely wasn’t Gravetye Manor above – I was really happy to discover Jeremy’s at Borde Hill.
When I visited Jeremy’s last year, the weather was fine enough to sit on the terrace which was delightful. This year of course it was cold and damp and so inside we had to go. Either way the restaurant is well worth a visit, for the food as well as the attractive design inside and out.
Jeremy’s must be one of the best kept local secrets. You have to book in advance to get in (and it’s sometimes closed for weddings and parties) and I doubt you’ll eat better anywhere. Certainly having just come from a week of seriously good food in Paris and stopping off at Jeremy’s while visiting Glyndebourne this was as good as anything I had, Michelin starred or otherwise.
As much of the food as possible is locally sourced and everything is beautifully fresh. Jeremy’s offers a tasting menu on the first Tuesday of every month and the stunning deal of a three course dinner menu three evening a week for £25 plus a la carte.
Make sure that you call on the day and ask to be on the terrace if it’s fine. You won’t regret it.
Jeremy’s, Borde Hill, Borde Hill Gardens, Haywards Heath, West Sussex. RH16 1XP | 01444 441102
The Griffin Inn – Fletching
I’ll start off by saying straight away that I have never stayed here, nor seen any of the bedrooms, but as everything I’ve seen at this friendly cosy ancient Inn in the village of Fletching has been done so well I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a try.
First visited when looking for a lunch after hiking at the weekend the smell of barbeque wafting down the street on a sunny day was irresistible. Walk in to this very old pub through the bar, along the small corridor and out into the garden. Go past the terrace with tables laid for the more formal lunch menu and on to a rolling green with a magnificent view over the downs, and you’ll find the huge brick barbeque, with chefs ready to serve the masses. Choose from lobster, mackerel, chicken, sardines or more, all of which which come with two or three salads. This will be a meal to remember. And no don’t ask me to fillet your mackeral, let alone your sardines.
Alternatively, for lunch or dinner you can book a table in the restaurant, or on the terrace if it’s fine enough. Book early as this is not a large place, but the food is absolutely delicious and far better than you will be expecting.
If you’re lucky enough to visit in the summer try the gazpacho and home made Focaccia with olive oil. I have the recipe for this which was kindly given to me but unfortunately haven’t yet had time to make it. I’ll add to this post when I do. The menu proper changes daily in small but delicious ways so you’ll definitely want to come back.
One barbeque weekend day I visited this year it poured with rain but nothing stops this place. They opened up extra rooms inside, fitted everyone in and cooked on a charcoal grill inside.
The Griffin Inn, Fletching, East Sussex, TN22 3SS. 01825 722890