The Richmond Arms in West Ashling, West Sussex doesn’t seem to look like much from the outside. Or that’s what I’ve always felt whenever I cycle by it. Needing somewhere new to try with a couple of friends, Catia and Loretta one Friday evening, my husband suggested this country pub. I dismissed it but funnily enough it was also mentioned by Loretta who said she had heard it was very good. Ok, let’s try it I thought. The saying “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover” is very true.
Luckily we had made a booking as although there was plenty of seating inside, it was a lovely warm evening and several people were sitting outside. We were greeted by a very friendly young lady and had a choice of a couple of tables. The room was nice and cosy, warmly lit, big sash windows and a few brightly painted wooden ducks along the picture rails. We were sat alongside a wall of wine bottles which on the other side was the bar and I could see through into the other room plus the ‘specials board’.
There was plenty to choose from on the menu. All of it sounded really nice with unusual things accompanying the dishes.
Catia had one of the specials on the board, squid fries – bread-crumbed and deep-fried, I think – with a sweet chilli sauce/jam. This was really presented well. A block of wood with an indent for the little pot of sauce and a hole in the other end with a cone of what is made to look like newspaper wedged into it holding the squid. Now I normally shy away from squid and fishy things but I did try one small squid and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure I would be brave enough to eat the whole lot though. I expected them to be chewy or rubbery but they weren’t at all.
My starter was also from the ‘specials board’, chorizo Scotch egg. Not normally something I would go for, this is probably what my husband Geoff would order rather than me. It sounded a little different though and instead of a boiled egg in the middle it was a runny egg. Chorizo seems to be very popular nowadays in pubs and restaurants. We only really started to eat it whilst on our holiday to Spain back in May. Now I buy it regularly and put it in our pasta dish.
Nestling amongst some fresh hay inside a small dish lay my Scotch egg. The young lad who brought it to me advised me that it might be best to take it out of the dish of hay before cutting into it. It was really rather tasty. The surrounding chorizo meat wasn’t too thick – unlike the sausage meat you’d normally get around a typical Scotch egg – and tasted very freshly cooked, not greasy at all. The egg inside was perfect. Served with this was a little side salad with fennel leaves and a dollop of a kind of salad cream. It was all very nicely presented even though it was served on a slate, which I hate along with wooden boards 😉
My main meal was the 24hr pulled lamb – served upon a wooden board. Pulled pork is very popular but you don’t normally hear of pulled lamb so I decided to go with this dish. It was pieces of lamb along with tiny pieces of carrot and other little veg formed into the shape of a chop with a piece of bone poked into one end. It tasted superb!
It was served with a dollop of soured cream which was topped with tiny cubed pieces of onion and mint with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a few pomegranate seeds. Accompanying this was wood roast sweet potato which tasted quite smokey. I didn’t actually like it on it’s own, but with the lamb and the soured cream etc., it went wonderfully and I enjoyed the whole meal. A smudge of pistachio paste with crushed pistachios on the plate added a little sweetness. An excellent dish.
I wanted to try the crab salad but as I wasn’t sure if I actually liked crab or not (I think I’ve only ever had it once and that was over 30 years ago) I was scared I wouldn’t like it and it wasn’t cheap. I persuaded Catia not to have it either as that would give me food envy (aren’t I mean?) so she had the same as me and enjoyed hers very much too, phew. Served with this dish was a mixture of fresh veg, broccoli, carrots and greens. We tried a little of Loretta’s stuffed globe artichoke which was also very nice. Again both dishes were presented really well.
ALL the desserts sounded fantastic! Like ‘coconut crème brûlée, dark rum froth with pineapple sorbet’ and ‘rhubarb fool, elderflower cheesecake foam, rhubarb sorbet and almond crunch’. Wow! Who makes these things up? They all sounded delicious. I don’t normally choose ice-cream for a dessert but there were some weird and wonderful sounding flavours. They were home-made too so we all decided upon three scoops each, ordering different flavours so we could try each other’s. This was a good decision as they were indeed lovely. I chose liquorice which we all loved the taste of, rose pistachio, which was coated in a fine crumble mixture of crushed pistachios – this was nice but I couldn’t really taste the rose much – and Earl Grey. I don’t like Earl Grey tea very much but this ice-cream was the best! Chocolate and spiced rum was nice but again it lacked the rum taste. The honeycomb was superb and salted caramel also. Loretta ordered an espresso to pour over ice-creams to make it into an affogato. Good thinking.
I had an espresso after the dessert which was nice and throughout the meal I enjoyed a glass of Hope Chenin blanc.
Have a look at The Richmond Arms’ website as it shows some photos which I haven’t got, for example the skittle alley and the lovely converted vintage pizza wagon outside which is open Friday and Saturday evenings from 6pm where they cook fresh pizzas within 60 seconds. The pub is open for lunch, dinner and bar snacks from Wednesday to Saturday and Sunday lunch. So, if you turn up on a Monday or Tuesday you’re going to be very disappointed indeed – and hungry, although about a mile away is the Fox & Hounds in Funtington. Around the corner is the delightful duck pond where there are geese, swans – black ones too – and coots.
It was a fairly pricey meal, around £40 each, including the glass of wine and the coffee – but we knew this beforehand and as it was presented so well, the friendliness of the staff and the quality of the meal, it was well worth it and I would love to return and take Geoff very, very soon!
Living life, loving cake.