Every once in a while we come across somewhere really quite special. The Lickfold Inn near Petworth is one such place. It’s a lovely Tudor style Grade II listed building deep in the West Sussex countryside.
The pub was acquired and restored by Tom Sellers – a Michelin chef and owner of Restaurant Story in London, which sounds amazing – with Graham Squires as the chef. Funnily enough after mentioning it to my daughter, Helen, she knew exactly who Tom Sellers was and looking back at our archives she has Restaurant Story on her list of ‘if time and money would allow‘. Alas, it seems it never did.
We had pre-booked our meal for 2pm and arrived a little early as we were on a country walk and were quicker than we thought. The downstairs area and in the garden are for bar snacks, tapas style and upstairs is a more formal dining room which is where we were eating. No one batted an eyelid at our attire thankfully, sporting big walking boots and a holey top due to getting caught up in brambles on Woolbeding Common.
Two menus were available in the dining room, à la carte and the set lunch menu priced at two courses for £19 and three for £25 which is what we went for.
The service was very good indeed with very friendly staff, each and every one of them. They came from all corners of Europe, Greece, Italy, Romania…and Gosport. Each time a dish was placed before us it was explained to us what it was.
Hot and fresh spelt bread was served with a lovely whipped butter with chicken skin. Then along came some whitebait with a smoked cod roe hummus. Now, whitebait would not be something we order, ever, but we loved it! Next, a couple of slices of their home cured salami and a rather delicious Sabayon egg, wild rice and garlic. This was superb, served in an egg shell it was creamy smooth, sprinkled with Parmesan (?) and with a bundle of hay on the side, of which we obviously did not attempt to eat.
For starter – yes, we’ve only just got to that after all those lovely amuse-bouches – Geoff had the Lickfold fishcake, sea aster and alexander which he enjoyed. He’s getting braver ordering fishy things now – the reality is he doesn’t like cheese.
My starter was the English pea, lovage and goat’s cheese tartlet which was beautifully presented, as were all the dishes on Lok Ming Fung crockery. The filo pastry was fresh and crisp (and a little difficult to keep on my fork) with bacon pieces, peas of course, and a goat’s cheese sauce, which wasn’t too strong so I’m sure Geoff would have been fine with it.
We both ordered the bavette for our main. This was very tender and tasty.
Geoffrey loves gooseberries and so not surprisingly he went for the gooseberry, white chocolate & camomile from the à la carte menu and paid the extra £’s.
My bitter chocolate & cherry brownie was delicious. It was nice and gooey in the centre and served with crème fraîche which was more of a sorbet. Afterwards we retired to the garden and had an espresso which came with a petit four each, a mango & marshmallow whip. Very nice.
Of course, we just had to return to the Lickfold Inn to try the bar snacks, so the following week off we set for another country walk in the area, this time with the pub only an hour in. Needless to say we got there pretty quick, it’s like having a carrot on a stick in front of a donkey for me when I know I’m heading for some good food.
We sat in the garden which was very pleasant but it could do with some umbrellas as there were only two places under a canopy of greenery. Again we had very good service. We ordered several bar snacks which range between £2 up to £5 and £12 for the Lickfold meat board.
We enjoyed whitebait again as we liked it so much from our first visit. The Scotch egg was served inside an egg box along with some hay, sea salt and a blob of mustard. This was very nice with only a thin layer of meat surrounding the egg, which is good. The pine chicken was our least favourite, it seemed a little bland although it appeared very fresh and good quality. When we added some of the sea salt from the egg box it was better.
The seasonal root crisps were flavoured with paprika and garlic. The spiced pork croquette had an oriental taste to it we thought, kind of Chinese style which was nice, the foie gras parfait on a slice of toasted brioche was creamy smooth and went very well with the cherries it was served with.
We were fairly full but I twisted Geoff’s arm as usual and made him order a dessert each. He had strawberries & cream, with meringue pieces and a wafer thin custard-type-of-thing on top. I had the Sussex brie & elderflower jam with two thin pieces of toasted hazelnut & cranberry (? I’m guessing) bread which was a bit too chewy and very hard to eat. The elderflower jam tasted amazing but was too runny. It wouldn’t stop me ordering it on another visit though. The elderflower was foraged for I believe, and made into jam.
Geoff enjoyed 2 1/2 pints of Langham Brewery’s limited edition ales, Jester which he loved – hence the 2 1/2 pints! He had to have a snooze in a field afterwards. The brewery is just up the road so we stopped off and bought some beer to take home. Nearby and on our walk was Blackdown Distillery/Lurgashall Winery where I tried almost everything and it was all so lovely, especially their liquers. Also in Lurgashall is the Noah’s Ark pub which is where we visit on our annual ‘secret’ Easter walk.
We finished off with an espresso each hoping for another petit four which we had on our last visit, but alas the coffee came on it’s own. I guess the petit fours only come when having a proper meal. Geoff said it was a petty petit four rule. He’s joking of course.
Overall score – 9/10
Living life, loving cake