On either Boxing Day or New Year’s Day, I don’t remember which, Helen, Geoff and I cycled over to West Dean hoping to have coffee at West Dean Stores & Tearooms but unfortunately they were closed. Luckily The Dean just around the corner was open. We only had a coffee and a packet of crisps each but browsed their menu and vowed to return.
Today, Easter weekend Geoff and I did just that, without Helen unfortunately as she has gone travelling again – you can keep up to date with her travels on her new website and Facebook page.
The Dean used to be called the Selsey Arms and is now an ale & cider house, B&B and pub/restaurant.
There are three areas in which to dine, the bar area where there is a nice log fire, all nice and cosy; the dining room which is tastefully decorated with dried hops hanging from the ceiling and two or three wood carvings/sculptures dotted around; and the light and airy conservatory-type room. For the summer months there’s also the garden where there are plenty of picnic tables with umbrellas. Plenty of parking too.
Right, let’s get back to the main topic, the food. As I said on our first visit we liked the look of the menu and there’s plenty to chose from, plus a specials board, sandwiches and light bites.
Geoff’s cream of mushroom soup was really nice, served with fresh bread and wait for it…. spreadable butter! Unbelievable I know, so often unheard of these days but it’s true.
For my starter I went for the Selsey crab & crayfish cocktail with lobster emulsion – Helen would be proud of me for being brave and trying something slightly out of my comfort zone. Shredded lettuce at the bottom of the glass dish topped with a mixture of crab, crayfish and lobster sauce (not dissimilar to the 80’s prawn cocktail), a slice of sushi with a few grains of caviar, cucumber and tomato, served with a couple of pieces of crustless toast. I really enjoyed it.
I just love pork belly so I had to go for that. Twice cooked belly pork, bubble & squeak potato cake with a cider cream sauce. I also ordered a side of vegetables, broccoli and a mash of swede & carrots.
Oh wow, the pork belly was cooked to perfection, it just melted in the mouth and there was plenty of it. The bubble & squeak was really nice too – something I can never seem to make, it always ends up a soggy mess – and the cider sauce was to die for and really made the dish exceptional.
Geoff went for beer battered fresh fish and chips. Two pieces of fish in a nice crisp batter served with a small pot of mushy peas, tartare sauce and some chips of course, all of which he really enjoyed.
We were really full after all that but of course our eyes are much bigger than our bellies so we waited a while for our meal to go down before deciding on what to have for dessert. Again, a hard choice as I could have eaten any one of them.
Geoff of course had the crumble. Apple & rhubarb crumble with custard. He said …“predominately fruit, needed more of a stodgy crumble, this was more of a dusting whereas I would have liked something a little more substantial/coherent”. Geoff really is very knowledgeable on crumbles. That’s not to say he didn’t enjoy it of course, just room for improvement.
I had the chocolate brownie with chocolate ice cream & chocolate shot. Nicely presented the chocolate brownie was served slightly warm and was very nice indeed. I though it was very much like one from the Hungry Guest but I was told they made them themselves, so well done to The Dean’s chef as the HG’s are usually the best!
We were both quite impressed by our meals and wouldn’t hesitate to return nor to recommend. We hadn’t realised but we had been there for over two hours, nothing to do with slow service whatsoever, we were just comfortable chatting and reading the papers. The staff were friendly, the place was clean, several of today’s newspapers were available. Music came on just as we were eating our desserts. They have a sister pub, The George & Dragon Inn, North Street, Chichester which we walked past not half an hour later not knowing.
Living life, loving cake