The Sir Roger Tichborne in Loxwood: Restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 11:59 16 April 2018
Our new restaurant reviewer Laura Paton visits the Sir Roger Tichborne, a community pub set in great walking country in Loxwood
On a cold, starlit night, we wend our way to the small village of Loxwood, just outside Billingshurst. Emerging from the cover of branches, we set eyes on The Sir Roger Tichborne, or “The Tich” as it is known by its patrons. Hung with lights, the 19th century inn is squat but perfectly formed, and benefits from stunning vistas of the Sussex countryside, as well as close proximity to an abundance of public footpaths.
Hungarian-born owner George Vasadi, who bought the bucolic pub two years ago, is well aware of how important it is to the locals. “We are a very community-based pub. We are quite rural, so it’s important to support the families and people who live around here – they are the life and soul of the place.”
Inside, a log fire glows invitingly from a large inglenook fireplace. Recently completed, the interior is typical village pub meets restrained French country chic: sea-spray blue walls, carefully chosen rural objects and exposed oak beams in the bar; cross-back chairs, gallery-wall artwork and white linen in the main dining room.
On the menu, which changes on a monthly basis, is a choice of six starters, ranging from £5.95 for the soup of the day to £9.95 for the Tichborne Tapas Platter. Main courses start at £10.45 for the wholetail breaded scampi, while chateaubriand (for two) takes the top spot price-wise at £55.95. Desserts are £5.50. Special nights include Monday and Tuesday Burger Nights (£8 instead of £12.50) and Steak Night Thursdays (a free drink with every steak).
As we peruse the menu we are issued with a warning, which we only partially heed. Ordering a starter and a dessert may be unwise, our waiter tells us, as the portions are on the large side. Our hunger now audible, we decide to share a starter, still certain that two desserts will be polished off with aplomb come the finale.
We settle on the crab, crayfish and spring onion fishcake (£6.95) and make short work of the generously-sized amber patty: sweet crab, fat pieces of crayfish and soft potato encased in a light breadcrumb crust. The sweet chilli dressing bears the hallmarks of being homemade, but could have done with more kick. It is only when an empty plate sits before us that we acknowledge that we may have been too quick to dismiss the advice given to us. The arrival of the main course confirms it.
Ham, egg and chips (£11.95) consists of five discus-sized, thick-cut pieces of baked Sussex gammon, two fried duck eggs flecked with freshly ground black pepper, and a pile of chunky chips that are almost as golden as the yolks. The eggs are wobbly perfection, and the ham (sourced from Loxwood butcher John Murray) is moist and tender. But the chips are the real star of the show; a crisp-to-shattering coating and hot and fluffy within, they could rival any roast potato in the Sunday lunch stakes. The only niggle is that the ham is fridge-cold, which hinders the flavour slightly.
Taking advantage of the Steak Night deal, my companion opts for a 10oz rib-eye (£19.95). Accompanied by stuffed, roasted tomatoes and baked field mushrooms, the steak’s flame-seared crust is of particular note and, of course, those wondrous chips.
Dessert is agreed with a great deal of back-stretching and waistband-adjusting. We finally select head chef Darren’s sticky toffee pudding (£5.50). A light sponge doused in butterscotch sauce, it is just the right combination of light and unctuous.
Heading reluctantly out into the night, we vow to return in daylight to amble across the surrounding fields, before taking in those promised views and enjoying a well-deserved lunch.
The Sir Roger Tichborne, Loxwood Rd, Alfold Bars, Billingshurst RH14 0QS; 01403 751873; www.thetichborne.co.uk
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