Restaurant review of The George at Eartham
PUBLISHED: 11:43 01 April 2014 | UPDATED: 11:43 01 April 2014
The George at Eartham takes food provenance very seriously, and if their bustling restaurant and happy diners are anything to go by, it's certainly paying off
Ladies look left, men head right. Okay, this might be generalising a bit – who am I to say which view you will prefer – but on entering the George at Eartham, your eye is drawn to one of two things. While I was enchanted by the kitsch Cath Kidston wallpaper that lined the walls to the left of the bar and throughout the restaurant, it was noticeable that every set of male eyes that entered the room gravitated towards the shooting trophies and the oak-beamed, beer-matted, traditional pub scene to the right. For this is a place of two halves.
When James and Anita Thompson took on the George, it was a quiet country pub. The scene could not tell more of a different story today if it tried. The bustling atmosphere and cheerful chatter that permeated every corner of the room was testament to the success of the place. Diners from their early twenties to their late fifties filled every table – and it wasn’t even a weekend. While the restaurant pays homage to all that is British, be it magazines, designers or paintings – all very modern in design but in the best possible taste – the bar area at the other end of the room remains as traditional a scene as any hardened pub-goer could want.
“We didn’t want to do away with it completely,” says James, who admits that the restaurant is designed to his wife Anita’s tastes. “But I couldn’t have predicted what a success it would be – I hoped, of course, but it’s been a fantastic turnaround.”
The clientele ranges from locals, racegoers and walkers, to those heading in and out of Chichester, looking for a quiet meal in the countryside. But don’t be under any illusion that the rural setting makes for rustic dishes – head chef Paul Evans has added his own touch. Everything on offer is as local and seasonal as possible – the meat comes from surrounding villages (some just down the road), the fish comes from the nearby harbour, and the vegetables are all as fresh and as local as they come. But it doesn’t end there – where local ingredients are not available, as realistically this would be impossible, they’re sourced entirely from Commonwealth countries – so the best of British ethos is never far away. And for their pièce de résistance? Every ale and beer comes from England. “We were worried about doing away with the Guinness, but we had to stick to our guns,” says James. “It’s really paid dividends.”
The food itself is both hearty and true to its billing, with an impressive range of British classics on offer – you won’t find any pasta or pizza here. I enjoyed the duck accompanied by seasonal vegetables and vanilla mash (above), but the winner of the evening was the chocolate brownie – not too sweet, not too rich, not too big, not too small – as Goldilocks remarked upon finding the right bed, this one was just right. The apple tart with rhubarb ice cream (left) is a real house favourite too, we were told.
There’s a weekly pie night on a Thursday, the day that we went, and I could hear plenty of approving noises coming from both my table and those of others, as everyone tucked in. “It’s like a tardis in here,” remarked one diner as he tucked into his pastry, so I gather that they’re more than enough to satisfy any appetite.
The George, Eartham, Chichester. 01243 814340; www.thegeorgeeartham.com