Half Moon Inn, Kirdford, Sussex - Restaurant Review
PUBLISHED: 14:52 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:03 20 February 2013
Hidden in a village in the Sussex countryside is a restaurant with that authentic Gallic <br/><br/>taste, look, charm and elegance, The Half Moon Inn, in Kirdford. But it all comes at a pretty price, says Lulu Larkin...
Authentic, charming and elegant...
You have to admire the audacity of a certain number of restaurant critics. They thrust and parries with words like a latterday Oscar Wilde and casually toss in the name of the restaurant into the final paragraph - if you're lucky. Yes, yes, I know they're very clever and funny, but I can't see the point.Fans of such reviews may feel short-changed by this one as I'm going to come straight to the point: in over a year of being in the privileged position of dining at some of the best restaurants in Sussex, The Half Moon in Kirdford shines out as my number one favourite. Ok, you may leave now if you wish but you may, as Daniel did, regret it.
I was meeting up with Kay, an old school chum of mine, but my husband declined to join us on what he feared would be a gossipy, giggly, girlie lunch. I'd paid an all-too-brief visit to the Half Moon once before and been very impressed, so as Kay lived in nearby Petworth, it seemed the ideal opportunity for a return visit.
Kirdford is one of those quintessentially charming English villages straight out of an Ealing film. You half expect to see a policeman on a bicycle chasing the young varmint caught scrumping Miss Threadgold's apples and box his ears. It has a telephone box that works, a medieval stone church with stained glass windows and a bell tower that regularly peals. A rural idyll indeed.
The Half Moon is every bit as charming as it looks in the photograph and so are its staff. We were welcomed inside by its glamorous owner, Kim Fishlock, and invited to take a seat on one of the many exquisitely-upholstered squishy sofas - the kind of sofa where your legs shoot up in the air when you sit down.
'Champagne ladies?' enquired Kim. She must have been reading my mind. Within seconds, our waitress Nikki had arrived with two glasses of perfectly-chilled champagne in crystal glasses. Kay and I toasted our mutual good health and reflected on our good fortune to be in such beautiful surroundings. Kim has a natural talent for interior design which is reflected in the embroidered cushions, the highly-polished furniture, the display cabinets of well-chosen antiques and the fresh flowers from the garden.
'Yes, my dad grew the roses,' said Kim proudly, nodding at a handsome gentleman at the bar helping Kim's mum fold the starched, white napkins. 'He works wonders in the garden.' We smiled at Albert and Peggy, who gave us a cheery wave in return. This is very much a family affair and they're clearly devoted to the business as much as each other.
As with all the best menus, there was a lot of umming and ah-ing. A tempting set menu at 12.95 for two courses (17.95 for three) or a la carte? Eventually Kay chose the crab and avocado tian and I the pan-fried scallops and leek tagliatelle. I coveted Kay's starter the moment it arrived but, being the good friend she is, she allowed me a taste: absolute bliss. A silky, green avocado puree on top of perky, fresh white crab. But my scallops were delicious, too, with that just-off-the-boat flavour. Both dishes were beautifully presented and the little blobs and swirls that decorated the plates were light and artistic rather than overwhelming.
Kay's a gutsy girl and had the fillet steak to follow , which was cooked medium rare as she'd requested and came with an enormous field mushroom, chunky chips and oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, no doubt harvested from Albert's greenhouse that morning. There was no need to ask Kay whether she was enjoying her meal as her eyes had glazed over with contentment.
My fillets of roasted sea bass were layered on top of dauphinoise potatatoes, crisp and brown on top and creamy in the middle and came with an assortment of vegetables cooked a point.
We ordered a glass each of the exceedingly good house wine (amazing value at 3.75) and drank another toast - this time to chef Chris Moody and his second-in-command, Simon Atkinson, for an outstanding meal. But as the aforementioned food critic once said, 'Don't trust the review - go and try it for yourself.' Do you know, I'm warming to that nice Mr Gill.
The Half Moon Inn,
Glass House Lane
01403 820 223
More restaurant reviews available
online at www.sussexlife.co.uk
Five Bells Inn
Smock Alley, West Chiltington, West Sussex Street, RH20 2QX tel: 01798 812 143
Landlord Bill Edwards is rightly proud of the cask-conditioned ales he serves at this charming pub with rooms deep in the heart of West Sussex. He has won CAMRA's highest award for best local real ale and with names like Hog Back, Dark Star and Black Sheep, who could resist? His wife, Joan, cooks honest-to-goodness meals to accompany your prize pint from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. A typical Sunday lunch (15) might be toasted goats cheese with gooseberry sauce, roast sirloin of English beef and Yorkshire pudding or Joan's special: home-made steak and kidney pie. For puddings, choose from crme brulee laced with Tia Maria or chocolate and brandy torte with raspberry coulis. If you need a lie-down after all that, Five Bells has eight rooms, all with countryside views and for 85 (for two) you get a full English breakfast, which you can have in bed if you choose. Bill and Joan have thought of everything.
1 Buckingham Place, Brighton BN1 3TD
tel: 01273 885 555
Sevendials' owner and chef, Sam Metcalfe, describes his food as 'fresh, flavoursome and fabulous' - an opinion shared with many. Formerly a Lloyds TSB building, Sam and his wife Lara have made this one of the most popular places to eat in Brighton serving modern European cooking at its finest: asparagus with truffle oil and mushroom vinaigrette, butternut squash soup, pork belly and wild mushroom terrine, classic cassoulet with Toulouse sausage and cannelloni beans, magic ice cream sundae, blackberry and apple crumble - the choice is mouthwatering. Sit in the pretty dining room on the ground floor, the old vault below or on the summery herb garden terrace considerately supplied with patio heaters. Unlike many restaurants of this calibre, Sevendials will let you come in for just a glass of wine. And a meal here won't break the bank - enjoy a three-course lunch or early dinner for just 15. They do a traditional Sunday lunch, too.
Elsted, Nr Midhurst,West Sussex, GU29 OJY
tel: 01730 825 746
You'll be assured of a wonderfully warm welcome from Sue and Michael Newton at this 16th century drovers' inn on the edge of the Downs. Wrap up well and walk down the scarp path from Beacon Hill to this cosy village pub with its stone-flagged floors and warm wood burners for a pint of Ballard's Best or one of their many other quality casked ales. There's always a fresh, seasonal menu and venison locally stalked by the landlord. An ideal autumnal destination.