At this time of year – or indeed at any time of year – there couldn’t be a more convivial way to treat yourself and your loved ones than with a truly memorable meal. Whether you’re looking to soak up the opulence of a luxury hotel, experience the refinement of silver service or sample the creative wizardry of some of the industry’s up-and-coming chefs, Sussex affords opportunities aplenty. Indeed, the area has become such a magnet for culinary talent that choosing where to dine is far from easy, so we’ve picked just some of our favourites by way of inspiration.
In Brighton …
Offering a fantastic social atmosphere, award-winning food and the added theatre of seeing dedicated chefs at work, 64 Degrees is ahead of the curve with its contemporary brand of dining. Passionate head chef Michael Bremner creates a selection of small dishes designed for sharing. The menu changes frequently – sometimes daily – so there is always something new to try, and the team also serves a range of cocktails, craft beer and spirits. The restaurant’s many awards include a Michelin Bib Gourmand and two AA rosettes.
Tucked discreetly inside Brighton’s finest designer hotel, The Restaurant at Drakes is comparably stylish and provides one of the finest dining experiences along the South Coast. The cool, neutral tones, exposed brickwork and subtle lighting create an elegant but unpretentious backdrop for relaxed lunches and intimate dinners. Through the creative skills and passion of head chef Andy Vitez, the restaurant has once again achieved the highest score of all Brighton restaurants in The Good Food Guide for 2017, making it their eighth consecutive year.
Isaac At offers fine dining at its finest, presented in a contemporary setting that includes seats at the pass and live video feeds of the chefs at work. The young team makes no secret of the fact that the venture is an evolving work in progress, but they are already so good that there are no limits to what they might go on to achieve. Despite their talent and ambition, there is refreshingly little pretension, simply a love for food and exceptional dining. There is a four-course set menu, ideal for a pre-theatre meal, and a six-stage tasting menu that can be enjoyed with wine or juice pairings.
The Set Restaurant at the Artist Residence is the brainchild of Dan Kenny and Semone Bonner. Opened in spring 2015, it evolved from a series of pop-ups in the Brighton area and is already being heaped with acclaim. Dan and Bonner aim to make fine dining accessible to everyone, with an informal ambience to match. These chefs clearly have a passion for invention, and a sense of humour too; the simplicity of the four-course set menus is deceptive and each dish is a masterpiece of surprising tastes and textures.
… and beyond
Surrounded by 93 acres of beautiful Sussex woodland, gardens and lakes, South Lodge Hotel is a gorgeous setting for a weekend retreat, elegant wedding or special occasion. Located within the hotel, The Camellia Restaurant exudes country charm and offers contemporary interpretations of traditional seasonal dishes. Head chef Richard Mann and his team source the finest local ingredients as well as using fresh vegetables from the hotel’s walled Victorian kitchen garden. The restaurant is open to the public as well as hotel guests and holds two AA rosettes.
As soon as you step inside Crouchers, you can sense that the owners love what they do. The welcome is warm and friendly, the decor cheerful and inviting, and the whole place immaculately maintained. The talented chef loves to explore his creative side and conjures up beautifully presented dishes that combine an exciting diversity of colours, textures and flavours, earning the restaurant two AA rosettes. The menu is locally sourced and changes regularly based on availability and season.
Head chef Paul Welburn is still relatively new to The Leconfield, but his flair and originality are already on full display. The regularly changing menu brings an unusual twist to traditional and hearty British dishes, and the food is a treat for all the senses; every dish is flavoursome, aromatic and uniquely presented, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of the cuisine is the use of textures, with every bite bringing something new. Only a short detour from the Sussex coast, The Leconfield makes a trip to Petworth a must and is a lovely spot for a family celebration or a romantic night out.
The Millstream Hotel & Restaurant is tucked away in the coastal village of Bosham, about three miles west of Chichester, and makes is an ideal destination for a celebratory family meal, a dinner à deux, or simply for a few days away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The hotel offers both a two-AA-rosette-awarded restaurant and a brasserie, Marwick’s. Many of the dishes on the restaurant menu change on a daily basis, and chef Neil Hiskey’s love of cooking with fresh, local ingredients is evident throughout.
PowderMills is a stunning 18th-century, listed country house hotel set in 150 acres, adjoining the famous battlefield of 1066. The stylish two-AA-rosette Orangery Restaurant is open every day for lunch and dinner, and the menus, produced by head chef Callum O’Doherty and his excellent team, are exquisite. In the easy-going atmosphere and unpretentious comfort of this beautiful country house you can escape from the many stresses of life and feel truly at ease.
For further inspiration, keep an eye out in Waitrose and tourist information offices for the 2016/17 edition of our Sussex Food & Drink Guide, due out in early December. Alternatively, visit our website, download our app or browse the online version of the 2015/16 Sussex guide.