Restaurant review: The Curious Pig in the Parlour, Copthorne
PUBLISHED: 12:42 25 July 2013 | UPDATED: 12:42 25 July 2013
On a beautiful summer’s evening, we were positively ravenous on our way to The Curious Pig in The Parlour in Copthorne. Formerly The Hedgehog Inn, the place is now in the hands of the Revere Pub Company, and has nine en-suite rooms alongside the restaurant, making this a very convenient stop-over for those with a morning flight out of Gatwick.
We visited on a Monday night, when they had only been open for business for three days. With this in mind we were well-prepared for the fact that there may still be a few creases that might need ironing out.
As we arrived, the staff were all very smiley and welcoming, but there was a definite sense that everyone was still finding their feet, with a few exchanged glances over where the menus were, who would seat us and the like. We didn’t mind this at all, and were happy to take a moment to admire the décor – a definite country pub feel, with wooden struts and beams, cider buckets and porcine motifs accompanied by statues of animals great and small dotted around (we spotted a bear and a hippo, among many others). A framed copy of the Dandy hangs in pride of place, which led to some confusion until the ‘cow pie’ reference dawned on us – it’s all about proper British grub. This became all the more fitting as the menus were presented to us – the emphasis here is on really good beef.
An illustration of a cow encourages you to pick your favourite cut, including a 28-day dry-aged Black Angus option, and we couldn’t resist giving it a go. Having looked at everything that was on offer, we decided that we both wanted nearly everything, so we decided to go the way of the family meal, and order two dishes to share, for each course.
After our waitress had got to grips with the iPad the poor girl had to use to take our order, for starters, we plumped for chicken parfait with warm bread, and salmon and crab fishcake, with a salsa and a delicious mayonnaise-meets-Marie Rose-style sauce, both of which were homemade. The chicken parfait was indulgently rich, and was well presented on a lovely rustic chopping board, while the fishcake was a much lighter option, really bursting with flavour – you could certainly taste both the crab and the salmon, which is a nice change from the fishcake beloved of pub menus, where the predominant taste is potato.
We couldn’t resist the beef for our second course, and opted for a rare fillet, accompanied by creamed spinach and French beans. The vegetables were superbly done, with just the right amount of crunch in the beans, and a great texture to the spinach, which was cooked and flavoursome without being too soft. We also ordered a vegetable tagine, made with chickpeas, butternut squash and vine- ripened tomatoes, and polenta chips to finish it off. The tagine itself was very filling, but very well-seasoned, and with just the right amount of chips – we were left wanting more, but decided we couldn’t possibly have fitted them in. But on to the house speciality: the beef. The meat itself was beautifully done – a sizeable portion prepared absolutely as we would have wanted it. The meat was melt-in-the-mouth soft, but gloriously naturally flavoured – as the menu had promised, a really great cut of meat.
Our Pinot Blush was a lovely pale shade, and certainly didn’t let us down in the taste stakes. We toyed with the idea of espresso martinis and mojitos with dessert (there’s an extensive cocktail menu), but wisely decided that we’d better leave some space for the pudding.
We went for chocolate and chilli torte with vanilla cream, and lemon posset with homemade shortbread. The shortbread was lovely and crusty, and sweet without being overpowering, but the posset itself could have been a little firmer. The chocolate torte was divine – sumptuously rich, and mouth-wateringly good when eaten with the vanilla cream. I’m ashamed to say we couldn’t finish it, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying.
An impressive children’s menu means that small mouths wouldn’t go without. This would be a great place to bring the family, as the atmosphere is light and friendly, with modern pop songs mingling with bar chatter throughout the evening.
As we left, the garden was lit up with fairy lights and looked like something from a child’s dream – a great place to sip a beer on a warm summer’s evening. n
Effingham Road, Copthorne 01342 716202, curiouspigintheparlour.com