I recognised the little building straight away as being an old bric-a-brac shop many years ago when I travelled on the old road to Chichester (before the bypass) with my parents, off for a visit to an aunts, Hotham Park in Bognor Regis (where I swear to this day I saw a push-me-pull-you) or some such fun and enjoyable time when I was a child. Before that, in the 1930’s (before I was born) it used to be a small garden nursery – hence the name – and then the bric-a-brac shop. Nik Westacott used to own Platters Restaurant in Southgate, Chichester but in 2003 he sold it and his house and bought the B&B 82 Fishbourne, near Chichester and rebuilt the little shop turning it into a very nice and cosy restaurant in 2011, which is number one of 189 on TripAdvisor and has been for a year.
The restaurant has covers for only 16 but is really very nice as although you can’t really hear other people’s conversations you can get drawn into them when Nik comes a long for a chat or brings in a cake with a massive (what looked like!) firework stuck in it for a young man’s birthday. When the young man left (he was about 13) he shook Nik’s hand saying how nice it was to meet him and that it had been the best meal he’d ever had. How lovely that was. Nik then told him he was the best guest he’s ever had too.
Anyway, back to the meal. My sister suggested the venue as they had been holding ‘Wild Wednesday’. This was a ‘no frills’ menu, meaning no starters, no linen napkins, no bread & butter, no petit fours (damn, I love petit fours). £6 for the main meal, £3 for a dessert and £1 for a coffee – a steal! ‘Wild Wednesday’ was being held on a Wednesday (obviously) in January and February as a ‘thank you’ to regular customers and also a ‘welcome’ to new ones, such as ourselves. We however, went on a Thursday evening as it was proving very popular.
Now, I was really wanted to return and have the proper set menu which is £32.50 and then write a post with more photos and better ones too – these aren’t the best I’m afraid and I must apologise as it doesn’t really do the place, nor the food justice. I had to use the iPad and although it wasn’t dark in the restaurant, the iPad doesn’t seem to enjoy soft lighting. But I couldn’t wait to tell you about my experience, plus I can’t really afford to go again until after my holiday to Australia where Geoff and I shall be reunited with our lovely daughter Helen, the founder and other half of livelifelovecake. But I shall definitely be paying Nik Westacott at The Old Greenhouse a visit upon my return.
It’s not every day you meet someone who you take to instantly, but Nik seemed a lovely friendly kind chap with a wonderful handlebar moustache. Very attentive but not in an intrusive way, and very helpful and chatty. There were several choices for the main meals with sausage toad in the hole & onion chutney and mushroom with herb crust & mozarella sounding tempting, but we both decided upon the turkey in Marsala and mushroom sauce. Nik’s known for his foraging so I’m not sure if he did for these. It was one of those meals where you didn’t want it to end. It was a simple dish really, plenty of chunks of tender meaty turkey with the rich and gorgeous tasting Marsala sauce, a lovely fresh salad on the side of the plate and some nice parmentier-type roasted potatoes.
Afterwards there was a choice of two desserts, chocolate tart, pineapple & ginger savarin (similar to a rum baba) with cream & fruit coulis or a selection of cheese and biscuits. We decided to have both desserts and share them. Nik said he could plate them up so we had equal amounts of each – no squabbling over who has the biggest slice then like most siblings. The chocolate tart was similar to the ones that Maison Blanc would have and was very nice and fresh and of course chocolatey. I’m a bit of a chocoholic but I enjoyed the pineapple & ginger savarin even more so. The sponge was soaked in a little alcohol, a pineapple slice on top with fresh whipped cream and a green fruity sauce. Very tasty indeed. We could taste fresh ginger.
We saw that another table had a nice plate of cheeses so we asked if it would be possible if we could have one between us. In both our households we are the only cheese eaters so we don’t buy any because it tends to get wasted. They were really very nice cheeses. I don’t normally like blue cheeses much but the Blue Shropshire was excellent. The other two were grana padano and Vintage Gloucester which were equally as tasty. The dish was served with several different crackers, a few grapes and little crispy sticks of celery.
The cafetiere of coffee gave us three cups each! For just £1 each!
The restaurant isn’t open every evening and you cannot just walk in. You need to ring or email to pre book and the menu is changed daily. Nik also offers mushroom hunts, generally in September/October which sound rather fun and include a 3 course meal containing mushrooms of course. I love mushrooms.
I’m looking forward to going back to The Old Greenhouse, I’m just hoping I’ll be able to get a booking now I’ve told all of you about this little gem!
Value: 10 (based on the ‘Wild Wednesday’ deal)
Living life, loving cake