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The Crate & Apple in Chichester: Restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 10:41 04 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:41 04 May 2017

South Downs venison Scotch egg - one of the tempting array of starters (Photo: XA Digital Ltd/Joshua Packham)

South Downs venison Scotch egg - one of the tempting array of starters (Photo: XA Digital Ltd/Joshua Packham)

Archant

Chichester’s Crate & Apple is a welcoming community hub right in the heart of Chichester, says Jenny Mark-Bell

The first surprise is that The Crate & Apple has the distinct look of a country pub – yet it’s just off the ring road and within easy walking distance of Chichester Festival Theatre and the Novium among other local attractions.

It’s tastefully decorated with lots of wood, leather and creamy neutrals. The table decorations – ears of corn nestled in a jar of coffee beans – were rather lovely too.

Perhaps drawing inspiration from the pub’s appearance, chef-proprietor Martin Bull has set out to establish it as a pillar of the community, even hosting a knitting club and a book club. Mondays have been steak night since January and the offer of two 6oz rib eye steaks with chips, mushroom, tomatoes and béarnaise sauce – washed down with a bottle of Malbec – is a steal at £28.

The wine list is concise but well-chosen, with many of the sparkling wines sourced locally. Where food is concerned, it’s an interesting menu with fun, experimental specials – on the night we visited these included a pheasant kiev described as “gorgeous” by our sunny and attentive waitress.

From a tempting array of starters I chose sourdough with tenderstem broccoli, a soft-boiled egg and anchovies (£6). All were absolutely delicious, especially the sourdough made on the premises.

The pan-fried fillet of seabass (£17) came with tarka dhal and buttered kale. This wasn’t quite such a success: while the fish was well cooked the dhal was rather heavily spiced and the flavour combinations somewhat unconventional.

My truffled mushroom and spinach tart, Isle of Wight blue rarebit with poached quail egg (£12) wasn’t what I was expecting – the rarebit was a topping rather than a separate entity – but my goodness, this was a tart with heart: a real treat. The cheesy blanket was the perfect foil to the unctuous, buttery main event underneath.

Dessert couldn’t have been a more precise definition of nursery food if it had clutched us to its bosom and called us ‘ducks’. A bowl of coconut rice pudding with winter fruits compote (£6) was amply enough for two and its creamy, comforting depths were just what was needed on an unseasonably chill spring evening.

This charming little local has big ambitions, a warm welcome – and lots of heart.

The Crate & Apple, 14 Westgate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 3EU; 01243 539336; crateandapple.co.uk

Sussex Life visits anonymously and pays for meals to ensure a fair review

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