All change in Chiltington's Jolly Sportsman Gastro Pub, East Chiltington

But no tears have to fall when you enjoy a jolly good lunch at The Jolly Sportsman in East Chiltington - although for her taste, Lulu Larkin wishes that it had been less of a blackboard jungle...

MANY thanks to all the Sussex Life readers who wrote in to recommend that Daniel and I visit The Jolly Sportsman as being a quintessentially Sussex pub serving outstanding food in Desperate Dan portions at amazing prices. Well we did, it does and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Here's why. Firstly the warm welcome. Not just from the friendly staff, but from a roaring log fire spitting and crackling in the hearth and the sound of everyone enjoying themselves. A young man enters backwards through the door with an armful of logs. "Oh, hello, I'll be right with you" and proceeds with pyromaniacal enthusiasm to hurl the timber on to the fire sending sparks flying and smoke billowing everywhere. But we didn't mind. It was a snappy cold winter's day and it made us feel warm and cosy-toasty. Housekeeping duties over, Nathaniel gave us a tour of the restaurant to ensure that we were happy with our table. How considerate. The restaurant is divided into two: the main bar used to be a Victorian alehouse and the atmosphere is maintained with dripping waxy candles on the polished oak tables, distressed mirrors, wood panelling, perching stools at the bar and a selection of more than 90 malt whiskies behind it. The other half is brighter with modern pictures and views out to the garden and Downs beyond but we decided to snuggle down on a table near the fire, where a friendly bulldog was lurking in the hope of Bill Sikes lobbing him a sausage. And then yes, of course, the food. There's an exciting and diverse selection here but my one and only cavil is that the most tantalising dishes, 'specials of the day' and the wine list are on various blackboards either above or behind someone else's table in microscopic writing. As a result you're hopping up and down like a jack-in-a-box, apologising to diners tucking into their steak and ale pie, going back to the printed menu and then forgetting whether it was mussel or celeriac soup. Help - it's a blackboard jungle - get me out of here! But our charming waitress, Rachel, was at hand to help us scythe our way through the menu and guide us through the 200-strong well-priced wine list, from which we chose a gutsy Shiraz. While Daniel chose the carpaccio of venison with pomegranate vinaigrette, I went for a robust salad of warm pigeon breast, Jerusalem artichoke and balsamic dressing. Mmmmm. Full article was puclished in the January edition of Sussex Life, 2009

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