After a lovely day shopping in Brighton just before Christmas, Geoff and I left in good time to reach Arundel for 6.30pm where we had a table booked at Butlers in Tarrant Street.
What we didn’t know was that Arundel had their busiest event of the year, ‘Arundel by Candlelight‘ on that evening. We were lucky to get a parking space.
Arundel was lit up with pretty Christmas trees strung up on the front of shops and houses, there were market stalls selling handmade crafts and gifts, mulled wine was being served and carols were being sung. What a pity we hadn’t known about this annual event earlier, at least we can go next year.
We love Arundel, I have ever since I was a kid when my parents used to take me in the school holidays. Geoff and I (Helen too when she’s here) visit Arundel several times a year and have been to a few restaurants including The Parsons Table, The Bay Tree Restaurant, The Loft at Sparks Yard and small but very nice Tarrant Street Espresso which sell delicious coffee and cake.
We arrived at Butlers a few minutes early and it was heaving inside and out (outside at the front they had a BBQ set up). We were shown to our table in the restaurant at the rear, past the bar area and it soon started to fill up, there was a good atmosphere.
Just inside the dining area there is a lovely old vine tree growing. How amazing! The roof above it is glass which gives the vine the light it needs and they keep it in check by trimming it. As it was Christmas they had put twinkly lights and white frosty-looking leaves in amongst it.
We hadn’t realised – although it should have been obvious really – that Butlers had their Christmas menu on instead of their regular menu. However, this wasn’t a problem at all, there was lots to choose from including traditional Christmas dinner and almost everything on it I liked.
It was very cosy inside and the place had a good vibe. Along three of the walls was banquette seating – at a good height thankfully – and on the tables were lovely white tablecloths, a candle and flowers with non-intrusive music playing in the background.
Butlers has an excellent wine list. I chose a glass of Sauvignon Blanc at a very reasonable price of £5.50 for a large glass. Geoff had a bottle of Sussex Gold beer from local Arundel Brewery which he likes.
Geoff had the soup for his starter, Roasted Pumpkin & Parmesan with white truffle oil. He said this was full of flavour with a predominant taste of the truffle oil but very nice. The bread served with it was also very nice and fresh and I believe, is from The Hungry Guest.
My starter of Goats curd, candied hazelnuts, pickled vegetables & cherry purée was so tasty I didn’t want the dish to end. It was very well presented too.
The oven baked fillet of sea bass topped with a pine nut crust, crab beignet & bisque was my main dish. Oh boy, again this was superb! The fish was beautiful, a good sized portion and cooked to perfection. The sauce was delicious and it was served with crushed potatoes, kale & sea samphire. Again, I didn’t want it to end.
Geoff had the Christmas dinner, Roasted Ballantine of Turkey with seasonal stuffing, vegetables, roast potatoes and roasting jus.
I overheard the table next to us paying the waitress and saying how much they enjoyed their meal and the service, so we weren’t alone in thinking the same. It was very vibrant – queue cackle of laughter from the corner – verging on boisterous 😉 but it was Christmas after all.
A meal’s not a meal without a dessert. I could have eaten any one of the desserts shown above but of course, I could chose only one.
I’m actually drooling whilst writing this, it’s all coming back to me.
The Lemon Posset with Shortbread Crumble & Raspberry Sorbet was absolutely wonderful! So creamy, smooth and refreshing. The sorbet was lovely too. Stupidly we shared this, I can’t believe we did that!
Service was really very good and friendly throughout the whole meal, the waitresses were all excellent especially the young lady serving our table, she had lots of personality.
Our only gripe about the whole evening was that people in the bar area (at the very front of the restaurant) who wanted to smoke walked through the whole length of the restaurant with their great coats on and opened the door at the far end which led to the garden. Thankfully we weren’t that close to the door but if we were on the table nearest to it then we wouldn’t have been best pleased having a cold draught every now and again. I didn’t like the idea of any Tom, Dick or Harry just strolling through the restaurant, it wasn’t very professional – why they didn’t just go out the front door I’ve no idea. Hopefully this was just because of the event which was on.
In the garden is a large olive tree surrounded by a table, on the garden walls are arched mirrors making it look as if they are windows (take a look at their Facebook page to see what I mean) it must be lovely to sit out there in the summer – oh gosh, roll on summer!
Beware the stairs to the toilets, they are accessed by a little wooden gate in the bar area and are extremely steep and narrow.
We really had an excellent meal, we will most definitely return very soon. We still talk about the meal now, three months on.
*I’ve just checked their online menu and they now have an ‘assiette of desserts’! They must have read my mind.
Living life, loving cake