Crompton's, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1QR - restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 11:00 22 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:00 22 October 2013
The Olive Branch in Horsham has spread its seed and created Crompton's - a very friendly place indeed
The Olive Branch pub in Horsham has long been a favourite with locals seeking a quiet drink after work, or families wanting a bit of outside space where children can run around. Now, owner Andrew Crompton has planted a new seed on site in the form of Crompton’s, the first step, perhaps, towards a veritable grove of local eateries.
We arrived on a swelteringly warm summer’s evening, and enjoyed a glass of rosé outside on the terrace. It was bustling considering it was mid-week, with young couples and families, as well as businessmen enjoying a pint.
The barman was extremely friendly and helpful, and we were particularly pleased by the beautiful bowl-shaped wine glasses, which are so much nicer to hold than the small flagon often proffered at local pubs.
Having enjoyed the last of the sunshine, we were greeted by our waiter for the evening, who showed us inside to our table. We were initially disappointed to be sitting inside in such fine weather, but the room was very well air conditioned and spacious, and we were sitting by the window, so we could still enjoy the evening.
Unsurprisingly, given the weather, the restaurant was empty, but we could see that lots of people had chosen to take their food outside. The décor of the restaurant is somewhat muddled, with mirrors of various shapes and sizes adorning the walls in an Alice in Wonderland fashion, original brick walls, and leather seating – so far so good, but then when you go to the loo, you feel like you’re in a club in London – the floor is black and white, it’s fairly dark, and there’s a movie gangster on the back of every door.
Our waiter was simply charming, as was Andrew Crompton himself – friendly without ever being overbearing or intrusive, and always eager to help. The ‘Aussie-style’ burger on the menu had to be explained to us (it comes with beetroot), and is one of a few additions that point to Andrew’s Antipodean heritage.
To start with we were encouraged to choose a few small dishes, as they come in small tapas-style containers, which are ideal for spreading across the table and sharing. We opted for calamari (a longstanding favourite of mine), prawns in garlic and halloumi. The prawns were absolutely delicious, and the halloumi is certainly to be recommended.
Overall the menu is interesting, varied, and there really is something for everyone, with a range of vegetarian options, and influences from across Europe and further afield – a reflection of Andrew’s culinary adventures, we later found out.
I plumped for mussels and frites, which didn’t disappoint, being suitably rich and flavoursome, without being greasy or overpowering. And there was just the right amount for me to be full without being overwhelmed. My companion chose tandoori chicken with minted yoghurt, which was met with a satisfied silence – those who have met the companion in question will know that this is something of a feat, and can certainly be taken as a positive response.
After a comfortable pause, we were presented with the dessert menu, which again offered a pleasing amount of choice. We were tempted by many of its offerings, but were encouraged by our waiter, (who we adored), to go for the tiramisu, which we duly did.
To our delight, two plates arrived at the table, followed by a ladle and a large mixing bowl, out of which our (generous) servings were produced. We loved this, and thought it a very original and homely way to produce what is clearly a house speciality.
When this place is busy, which I’d imagine is often, when the weather isn’t so uncharacteristically warm, the atmosphere inside must be buzzing, as it’s a great little set up. The only downside to it being so empty while we were there was that we could hear the kitchen staff discussing the night’s takings.
If you’re after something more than pub grub (be it a bite to eat or a full three-course meal), and want real home-cooked tasting food, served by the most charming of staff, who really can’t do enough for you, then this is undoubtedly the place to come. We’ll be back.
Crompton’s, 12 Bishopric, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1QR, 01403 252286; www.cromptons-horsham.co.uk