Although, in name, a pub, this pub/restaurant is in reality more of a restaurant - although there is a bar, still patronised by a few locals. The dining rooms still has the wooden-floorboard feel of a pub, but that's where it ends, as the clientele are mainly people from miles around, who might normally not visit an establishment of this type. Smart clothes mix with jeans and walkers attire - particularly at lunchtime.
Although winning Sussex Pub of the Year for the third consecutive time, reports (and our own inspections) have indicated that they let their guard down in both the flavour and service stakes over the last few months - reports of long waits for food, and disappointing dishes - particularly so, when set against their high standards of the past.
However, if you suffered from one of these occasions, we urge you to revisit as all is now restored on the kitchen front.
After a few years experimenting with various head chef's, proprietor Bruce Wass (who maintained a Michelin star while at Thackeray's in Tunbridge Wells) - is now orchestrating the kitchen full time - and this shows in the consistant high standards now produced. Indeed, in our experience, you will find the best food here - for many miles around!
As ever, the menu changes with the seasons, but local food figures prominently, and all is carefully sourced.
An autumn snapshot brought 'Honey Glaze Pork Belly with Coco Bean Mash'; 'Butternut Squash, White Bean & Basil Soup'; 'Carlingford Lough Oysters' and 'Brioche Crostini with Teal Breast & Wild Mushrooms' amongst the starters.
'Grilled Gurnard Fillet with Caponata & Crushed New Potatoes'; 'Partridge with Braised Puy Lentils & Baby Vegetables'; 'Sussex Beef Fillet & Slow-Cooked Ox Cheek with Wild Mushrooms & Mustard Mash and 'Wild Mushroom & Baby Artichoke Tart with Spinach & Squash Purée' listed amongst the mains.
Desserts and excellent cheeses keep up the restaurant (rather than pub) theme - the former maybe including 'Crème Brulée'; 'Apple, Walnut & Toffee Pudding' and a much-enjoyed 'Apple & Quince Crumble'.
The rear outside terrace is very popular during fine weather.
Little 'trimmings' (which you can also take away) such as 'Pickled Garlic' & 'Picked Onions with Chili' aren't to be missed.
Service, however, also previously a serious weakpoint, is now under the direction of Rob Wilson, and recent reports show that this has also been much improved!
- Food Style: Best Pubs for Food
- Lunch: Tues-Sun; set L Tues-Sat £15.90 (2 courses), £18.90 (3 courses); set L Sun £19.95 (2 courses); plus a blackboard menu from about £5.95
- Dinner: Tues-Sat; Tues-Thurs 19.00-21.15; Fri & Sat 7.00-22.00; mains from about £15 to £25
- Seats: 80; plus 30 outside
- Wine: A good list, is mainly focused on the Old World; with good choice around the £20 mark, and plenty of half bottles - mark-ups are reasonable. Harvey's excellent local bitter is an alternative
- Children's portions: Yes, when possible
- Wheelchair access: Yes, including lavatory
- Nearest station: Cooksbridge or Plumpton
- Directions: Drive 6km miles north of Lewes on the A275, take a left turn, just before the Cooksbridge level crossing (signposted East Chiltington) - then proceed, carefully, down a narrow lane for about 4km. The Jolly Sportsman is signed when you're close. See the map on this page.
- Parking: Yes
- Closed: 4 days at Christmas
- Air conditioned
- Outside eating
Reviews / Comments ( 5 out of 5 average rating)
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Sun 14th September 2014 by Linda Jackson
What did you like about the Restaurant?
I've been there 3 times over the years. In good weather you can sit outside in their nice garden but half of the garden has now been taken for a conservatory. However, this is glass on 3 sides and you still get a garden feel even in the winter. Food is generally very good, although there are significant errors. They have their own veg garden and fruit trees so you are confident about produce origins. Overall, it is pretty good and a very nice place to have a meal.
What did you not like about the Restaurant?
On my last visit two of us had venison, which was lovely, but it had a vile type of rosti with it, which was horrible. I scraped the 'flavouring' off, but it still wasn't nice. There was a similar issue on my last visit with an accompaniment. Service not very quick and, as with many restaurants, they give you plenty of nice bread but you have to ask for anything near a commensurate amount of butter. The sweet was fresh berries in a glass with cream etc - the creamy bit wasn't properly flavoured with the berries and I left it after extracting the berry bit. Overall, they spoil the food experience somewhat with a few ill-judged items. I would go again but would be more careful about my choices from the menu. White wine temperatures are also a bit iffy in the context of what body of wine they are serving. Good, but could do better.
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