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Ghyll Manor restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 16:08 27 May 2014 | UPDATED: 15:55 06 November 2017

Photo by Deirdre Rooney

Photo by Deirdre Rooney


Alice Cooke discovers that hidden in the back lanes of Rusper lies a fantastic little restaurant in the shape of Ghyll Manor

Photo by Deirdre Rooney Photo by Deirdre Rooney

Rusper is such a charmingly secluded village that you really feel like you’ve found a hidden gem once you’ve wound your way through the lanes to get there. And if Rusper is a hidden treasure, Ghyll Manor Hotel and Restaurant is the jewel in its crown.

But that makes it sound rather gaudy and garish, which really couldn’t be further from the truth. On turning into the drive you are greeted by an enchanting 17th century country house, all exposed beams and wonky lines – the sort of house that my dreams are made on.

The greeting was both warm and formal – a perfect balance between the two –which made us feel at once welcomed and well looked-after. This level of service was effortlessly maintained throughout the evening, both as we sat on the cosy sofas of the sitting room enjoying an appertif before our meal, and while we ate. And boy, did we eat.

To start, we enjoyed a goat’s cheese salad and potted mushrooms. The latter was mine and was delightfully rich – not that this stopped me from cleaning my plate. The goat’s cheese was beautifully seasoned, and light without being too sparing.

We were one of a few parties in the restaurant that night, and the atmosphere was both chatty and discreet, which was echoed by the décor. Everything was homely and welcoming, but smart and well thought-out at the same time.

After a short pause, which allowed us to enjoy the delicious pinot grigio that we’d selected from the concise but considered selection on the wine list, our main courses arrived – pig’s cheek for me and plaice for my companion. Both rendered the party silent, which those who’ve made our acquaintance will appreciate is a rarity.

The pig’s cheek was melt-in-the-mouth succulent, with just the right amount of marinade so as not to detract from the quality of the meat itself. The plaice was both perfectly cooked and extremely well-flavoured – our compliments to the chef, Graham Digweed.

As if we weren’t satisfied enough, we couldn’t resist casting an eye over the puddings – I went for a salted caramel tart, which we both agreed to be the triumph of the night. This really isn’t to be missed. The bread and butter pudding trod the tightrope between gourmet (read small portions) and stodgy perfectly, as it was both light and filling.

If you haven’t discovered Rusper, you must – it’s so sweet and I feel it’s too often overlooked. But more importantly, if you want to treat your friends, loved ones, or –let’s be honest – yourself, pen this down as a contender. An enchanting country house restaurant that’s not to be missed.

Ghyll Manor Hotel and Restaurant, Rusper 0845 345 3426; retreats.csmaclub.co.uk/hotels/ghyll

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