Apart from being on a pretty intensive kettle bell swinging exercise regime I’ve been balancing this out by stuffing my face as often as possible in Chichester recently. I eat out about three times a week locally (and am the nerdy foursquare mayor of most of the places below). Here are some highlights and updates from previous posts about eating out locally..
- The Field and Fork. Probably my favourite restaurant in Chichester now. The waiting staff are fantastic – especially the guy that oversees them. He only appears to be 7 but could teach some top London Maitre d’s a thing or two. As for the food, well it’s just very simple, very fresh and always really tasty. They have a good range of fish dishes but my favourite thing is that everything on the menu is new and interesting. On my last visit I started with the ‘chicory, blue cheese and apple salad with toasted hazelnut dressing’ which was lots of well thought out flavours and not overpowered by any dressing. For my main I had their gnocchi – nobody else on the planet seems to be able to make gnocchi as good as these guys and it’s always hard to resist. If I had to find fault at all then their bread selection is very boring (it used to be really special) and not worth the money. Three courses with wine recently was a reasonable £82
- The Kennels. This private dining experience, part of the Goodwood Estate had me in coniptions of happiness when it opened. Then it seemed to really go down hill with smaller portions and very uninteresting food – especially as a typical meal for two is usually over £110. However in the last year things have really improved with my favourite being the whole roast chicken to share for Sunday lunch. Of course the main draw for the Kennels is the stunning building with comfy sofas and log fires in the grand historical house. The staff are generally excellent and it’s difficult to find any criticism apart from their menu doesn’t change very often especially for bar food. Six months ago I wouldn’t have said the Kennels was worth it (it’s around £150 a year to be a member) but things have really improved.
- The Royal Oak. This Lavant based pub on the outskirts of Chichester has been hit and miss in my mind and I gave up going altogether a couple of years ago when I paid around £75 for a very uninspiring pub meal. I have been persuaded to return though and the last two occasions have resulted in excellent meals in a lovely pub atmosphere. It can get a little busy in here and the tables aren’t laid out perfectly so it’s a bit luck of the draw whether you get a good one or not. They do serve great beers and have a lot of really interesting specials. It’s one of those restaurants where you can easily struggle to decide from lots of interesting options on the menu. I had to delete my recent Foursquare updates as I realised I’d been checking in at the wrong pub, doh. So a really interesting menu with good game and fish. I guess my only complaints are when pubs have restaurant prices. Hmm, that and sometimes after the lunch trade the floor can be really grubby if you arrive later in the day – although this has only been on two occasions recently.
- Maison Blanc. OK so this is a light lunch and café rather than a restaurant but it really deserves to be considered if you’re visiting Chichester during the day. They have recently removed some of the counters to give more seating area but it’s nearly always crammed full of people. I wouldn’t want to sit out in the back area as it’s not as nice however. The food is classic Raymond Blanc but my favourite part of visiting Maison Blanc are the excellent staff (especially the French ones!). I had a great porchini mushroom croissant and lovely latte at the weekend and when I paid the “tip jar” at the counter was full – and not with buttons. Surely that says all you need to know about this café. By the way, the cakes are like something out of a special effects department, so colourful and glossy.
- No. 12. Out towards the west side of Chichester the food at No. 12 is a real treat. The portions are really large and there is a huge variety on offer. It’s a place I go for a really good steak and I’ve not been disappointed yet. The only odd thing – and maybe this is due to the location – is that there is never usually many other people eating here. Personally my ideal restaurant is one with nobody else in it but sometimes you do feel like it’s just you and the staff and the glass cleaning machine.
- Brasserie Blanc. I was like a kid thinking of the circus when I found out that Raymond’s brasserie was coming to town and probably visited it twice a week for the first month (I even spent New Year here). But the love affair was short lived. The menu is static and the portions are just… well… too small. Especially with a meal like the Beef Stroganoff which sits in the bed of rice like a small island in the middle of the pacific ocean. Some things are great – especially the mussels. But I once rashly had the fillet steak – and for £27 I was served a small (but very very good) steak with a bowl of chips and… a single tomato. £27! The staff are good, keeping you topped up with bread and olive oil. But I think my main problem is that because it’s called a “Brasserie” then it’s doesn’t really think of itself as a restaurant. But the prices are definitely in the restaurant league and it’s just the portions and the quality that isn’t. Front of house is also a little disappointing here. I don’t think I’ve ever been greeted warmly or thanked for my custom. Anyway, I’m going to leave it for a bit then try it again when maybe it has settled down. I don’t want to complain, but I *am* the Foursquare mayor after all!
- West Stoke House. Not a lot I can say about this fantastic place as it (and the nice Dining Room at Arthur Purchases) has closed down. Apparently the owners of West Stoke House are moving into the old Arthur Purchases location to open up a new restaurant called Amelie and Friends so that’s really exciting. However if the rumours are true and it’s just going to cater for pre-theatre diners then that’s a crazy disappointment.
- The Fox Goes Free. With a name like this how can a pub go wrong! This pub serves some awesome beers and is set in a beautiful country location just outside Chichester. It has an extensive pub menu with all the usual classics but then also has a great restaurant menu with lots of game and some very cosmopolitan meals. Like my previous complaint about the Royal Oak the prices are definitely in the restaurant league here but the portions are huge (with great chips) and lovely, friendly staff. I have a huge complaint about the Fox Goes Free however… my absolute favourite meal here was the Lasagne and they’ve taken it off the menu!
- The Richmond Arms. This pub/restaurant in West Ashling is a new addition to this list and worthy of a high recommendation. Next to the gorgeous millpond (and a beautiful 3.5million pound mill for sale) this very small restaurant has great staff and a lovely changing menu of interesting and fresh food. The lamb and steaks are highly recommended.
- Amelie and Friends. This new restaurant/cafe in central Chichester has a friendly front of house and lovely fresh and interesting food. If you want healthy (apart from the cakes!) and fresh food you can’t go wrong. Only negatives are that you can’t book (actually that has changed now!) and the food seems to revolve around tapas style salads which is a little strange. Definitely worth going to though.
- The Leconfield, Petworth. Another new restaurant approximately 20minutes from Chichester in the pretty town of Petworth. Excellent lunch and evening menus and a clean and crisp modern restaurant.
- Others. Well if all of these don’t take your fancy then you can’t go wrong at either Zizzi or Pizza Express on South Street. Seriously good value for money and great italian food. But if you do eat at one of these instead of any of the above then I’m disappointed with you (-:
Let me know if you’ve checked any of these places out and had a good evening!