Reviewing New Street Bar & Grill in Petworth
PUBLISHED: 14:30 10 December 2018
New Street Bar & Grill is the James Bond of casual dining, as we discover
After seven years of starched napkins and deconstructed dishes, The Leconfield in Petworth closed its doors for the last time. Relaunching just six months later with a new chef, a new look and a new vibe, New Street Bar & Grill was born, offering a more casual approach to dining.
A few months after the rebrand, we drive along narrow winding streets, lined with independent shops, delis and restaurants, in search of New Street and its namesake.
The sun has already set, but our eyes are forced to adjust to an even deeper darkness as we step through the red-brick façade and into the restaurant. The gloom creates a cocooning effect, instantly soothing our troubles. Our feeling of contentment is crystallised as we slide into a banquette in an elegant room with high ceilings, teal-and-gold décor and statement lighting.
With the menu comes the realisation that this is the James Bond of casual dining – smooth, suave and sophisticated, but reassuringly improper when the need arises. From the grill, there’s lobster (whole £50/half £26) or Wagyu feather blade steak (£39.50), and amongst the starters – and just the right side of indecent – BBQ pulled pork and mac ‘n’ cheese croquettes (£8).
Deciding those croquettes are too ridiculous not to try, my companion orders a plate, while I opt for the crispy squid rings (£7.50). There’s no room for error when it comes to fried squid and these thick, meaty halos get a big thumbs-up. Dipped in rich aioli, they’re heavenly.
A hipster trend gone too far perhaps, but there’s no denying that the croquettes are delicious. Three golf ball-sized spheres, filled with meltingly-soft pork and al-dente macaroni, are strong with cheese and coated in crisp breadcrumbs.
Right to the last bite, everything is as it should be. Until, in that very last piece of croquette, something inedible unravels from its filling. A five-inch piece of butcher’s string has become entangled with the pork and made its way to where it does not belong. Conversation halts as we stare unbelievingly at the offending item. My fellow diner regains his motor skills long enough to signal to the waiter and point out his discovery. A humble, heartfelt apology is made, the plate is whisked away and, moments later, replaced with another. We share the second plate, starting a little hesitantly, but relaxing a little more after every sans-string bite. By the time we finish, the event is all but forgotten amidst a haze of cheese-and-pork-fuelled pleasure. (Incidentally, we weren’t charged for our first or second plate of croquettes).
In a moment of abandon I’d ordered the lobster, regaining my composure long enough to specify the half (£26). It arrives in its shell, the meat sweet and succulent. Sprinkled generously with salt, the skin-on triple-cooked chips are also very good. However, both are marginally eclipsed by a locally-grown tomato. Drizzled with oil, sprinkled with herbs and slow-roasted for an entire day, the result is a luscious, flavour-dense morsel. I could’ve eaten a plateful.
Not being a fan of meat just a few short breaths from resuscitation, my companion is very pleased to learn that all burgers are served well-done. Packed full of flavour, the Wagyu burger (£19) has a beautifully dark crust and a tender texture. Sadly, it isn’t as lip-smackingly moist as it should be, but it’s still a very decent burger.
We end on a nostalgic note, with Baked Alaska (£7). A dome of piped perfection arrives, its diminutive peaks carefully toasted until golden. Breaking through the warm, fluffy meringue reveals a light sponge topped with still-frozen strawberry and elderflower ice cream. A real treat from start to finish.
It may be a little too early to tell, but I’d happily take a punt that this rebrand will pay off. Teething problems are easily overlooked when every other aspect of a dining experience is so assured and well-executed, and, with those issues ironed out, it’s quite possible that New Street will become the jewel in Petworth’s dining crown.
New Street Bar & Grill, New Street, Petworth, GU28 0AS; 01798 345111; www.newstreetbarandgrill.co.uk
• Eating out in Sussex - Best restaurants - Whether you’re looking for fine dining, pub food, a romantic meal for 2 or a taste of something from further afield, eating out in Sussex really has something for everyone. Here’s our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs