We’d been invited to The Earl of March, country pub and restaurant in Lavant, West Sussex and as it was on our ‘must do’ list, how could we refuse? It is owned and run by Giles Thompson the former Executive Head Chef of The Ritz in London. It specialises in game and seafood, as it is a country pub but is also close to the sea.
We booked a table for 7pm and there were already a few customers finishing their meals, as they’d obviously come for the set menu which is available between 12 – 2 and 5 – 7pm and is great value, 2 & 3 courses for a reasonable price.
The Earl of March has a very nice ambience indeed. It was warm and cosy with cream walls, low ceilings, softly lit with down-lights and candles and light music played in the background. Upon the walls were black and white photos of Spitfires and other old aircraft as well as vintage cars, as it’s not too far from Goodwood Aerodrome and racing circuit.
We were warmly welcomed and served by two very nice ladies throughout the evening. A jug of water was placed on the table straight away along with the wine and food menus. There was also a chalk board showing a good selection of specials. The haggis sounded great and so too did the surf & turf.
We were given a selection of bread served with spreadable butter. Fresh brown bread plus a few slices of tasty focaccia with rosemary, which was excellent. Geoff was very pleased with his starter the French onion soup, which was quite thick with lots of onions and topped off with a large crouton with melted Gruyère cheese. Geoff’s not a fan of cheese but ate the lot and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I order the Tartin of roast red onion & beetroot with goat’s cheese ice-cream for my starter. This was presented really well. Chunks of cooked white beetroot, tiny cubes of carrot jelly, candied nuts which were nice and sweet, as was the onion tart. On the top of the tart was the goats cheese ice-cream – this was still a little hard and frozen unfortunately but was still very nice and it went very well with the sweetness of the tart.
Geoff had the sirloin steak, hand cut chips, grilled field mushroom and tomatoes and garlic butter. The steak was superb. Tender, juicy and lean. The only disappointment were the chips which tasted of nothing. It was a shame as they looked quite crispy.
I chose the slow roast shoulder of Southdown lamb, crispy sweetbreads, roast roots, Anna potatoes, Port wine jus. This dish was so tasty. The lamb was very tender and just fell apart, the Anna potatoes were not unlike Dauphinoise potatoes but without the cheese sauce. The sweetbread was in a crispy breadcrumb but I’m afraid they were too chewy for me, although Geoff ate the half I gave to him. The thick slice of roasted parsnip was nice and soft and the jus was rich, sticky and to die for.
Geoff enjoyed his dessert which was mulled berry crumble and ice-cream. The berries had a lovely sharpness to them.
Of course, I went for the triple chocolate brownie as I adore chocolate. This was served with a few large berries, chocolate sauce, some sort of soil and some micro celery leaves to garnish. The brownie was delicious and served slightly warm with the centre oozing out. The toffee & honeycomb ice-cream was tasty too. I’m rather a connoisseur on brownies and I gave it 9/10.
We enjoyed a nice bottle of Tempranillo Rioja with our meal and after our desserts we each had an espresso. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and we were comfortably full.
The lounge area looked very comfortable and cosy with leather sofas and an open fire. Magazines and books are available to read and also dominoes and playing cards if you fancied a game. At the rear of the restaurant is a large garden and outdoor seating area which over-looks the pretty countryside. The Earl of March can be hired for weddings and private parties. It’s on the Midhurst Road and is only a few minutes drive away from Chichester if you want some retail therapy, a country walk at West Dean Gardens, a spot of history at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum (both in the opposite direction) and of course, Goodwood.
Ambience – 9
Value – 7
Service – 9
Quality – 8 (because of the chips)
Living life, loving cake,