The Blacksmith's Arms in Donnington - restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 10:17 23 November 2015 | UPDATED: 16:04 06 November 2017
The Blacksmith's Arms in Donnington is both rural and modern, as Alice Cooke found out
To drive through Donnington is a pleasure in itself – it is everything that you could want in a little Sussex village. There are pretty houses, beautifully-kept gardens and Sussex stone bordering rolling fields that eventually head down to the sea. So before we even arrived at the Blacksmith’s Arms we had high hopes – surely anyone who lived in such a pretty place would accept no less than a gorgeous country pub? We weren’t disappointed.
For the staff, nothing was too much trouble, and everything was done with a smile. For example – it was sunny but a bit blustery on the day that we visited, but as summer was fast drawing to a close we were keen to sit outside. Our place settings were duly moved, but then as we shivered slightly in the breeze, cosy blankets were brought to keep us cosy as we ate – a lovely touch.
The décor inside is traditional country pub all over, and there are photographs and pictures both old and new of local people, places and happenings. Outside, there are clever glass screens surrounding a smart and comfortable patio area – they are there to protect you from the elements while still allowing you to enjoy the view – newly cut fields in this instance.
As we ordered and chatted to our waitress, we found out that the Blacksmith’s Arms hosted its own festival this summer in those fields, with tow flat-bed trailers on the back of tractors making up the stage.
Being so close to the coast, it is no surprise that the fish is sublime – among our choices were Selsey potted crab and sea bass, which was flavoured perfectly and accompanied by homegrown vegetables that were harvested mere metres from where we were sitting.
The menu is seasonal and subject to change but there was a very tempting confit of duck on the specials board on the day that we were there, which was just too good to resist. It was packed with flavour and prepared to perfection, with a delicious marinade.
To finish we enjoyed lavender crème brulee and chocolate brownie, both of which were a total triumph. The presentation of each dish, it should also be said, was fantastic. This place is slightly off the beaten track but well worth making a short detour.