Half Moon Inn, Kirdford, Sussex - Restaurant Review

Hidden in a village in the Sussex countryside is a restaurant with that authentic Gallic <br/><br/>taste, look, charm and elegance, The Half Moon Inn, in Kirdford. But it all comes at a pretty price, says Lulu Larkin...

Authentic, charming and elegant...

You have to admire the audacity of a certain number of restaurant critics. They thrust and parries with words like a latterday Oscar Wilde and casually toss in the name of the restaurant into the final paragraph - if you're lucky. Yes, yes, I know they're very clever and funny, but I can't see the point.Fans of such reviews may feel short-changed by this one as I'm going to come straight to the point: in over a year of being in the privileged position of dining at some of the best restaurants in Sussex, The Half Moon in Kirdford shines out as my number one favourite. Ok, you may leave now if you wish but you may, as Daniel did, regret it.

I was meeting up with Kay, an old school chum of mine, but my husband declined to join us on what he feared would be a gossipy, giggly, girlie lunch. I'd paid an all-too-brief visit to the Half Moon once before and been very impressed, so as Kay lived in nearby Petworth, it seemed the ideal opportunity for a return visit.

Kirdford is one of those quintessentially charming English villages straight out of an Ealing film. You half expect to see a policeman on a bicycle chasing the young varmint caught scrumping Miss Threadgold's apples and box his ears. It has a telephone box that works, a medieval stone church with stained glass windows and a bell tower that regularly peals. A rural idyll indeed.

The Half Moon is every bit as charming as it looks in the photograph and so are its staff. We were welcomed inside by its glamorous owner, Kim Fishlock, and invited to take a seat on one of the many exquisitely-upholstered squishy sofas - the kind of sofa where your legs shoot up in the air when you sit down.

'Champagne ladies?' enquired Kim. She must have been reading my mind. Within seconds, our waitress Nikki had arrived with two glasses of perfectly-chilled champagne in crystal glasses. Kay and I toasted our mutual good health and reflected on our good fortune to be in such beautiful surroundings. Kim has a natural talent for interior design which is reflected in the embroidered cushions, the highly-polished furniture, the display cabinets of well-chosen antiques and the fresh flowers from the garden.

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'Yes, my dad grew the roses,' said Kim proudly, nodding at a handsome gentleman at the bar helping Kim's mum fold the starched, white napkins. 'He works wonders in the garden.' We smiled at Albert and Peggy, who gave us a cheery wave in return. This is very much a family affair and they're clearly devoted to the business as much as each other.

As with all the best menus, there was a lot of umming and ah-ing. A tempting set menu at �12.95 for two courses (�17.95 for three) or a la carte? Eventually Kay chose the crab and avocado tian and I the pan-fried scallops and leek tagliatelle. I coveted Kay's starter the moment it arrived but, being the good friend she is, she allowed me a taste: absolute bliss. A silky, green avocado puree on top of perky, fresh white crab. But my scallops were delicious, too, with that just-off-the-boat flavour. Both dishes were beautifully presented and the little blobs and swirls that decorated the plates were light and artistic rather than overwhelming.

Kay's a gutsy girl and had the fillet steak to follow , which was cooked medium rare as she'd requested and came with an enormous field mushroom, chunky chips and oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, no doubt harvested from Albert's greenhouse that morning. There was no need to ask Kay whether she was enjoying her meal as her eyes had glazed over with contentment.

My fillets of roasted sea bass were layered on top of dauphinoise potatatoes, crisp and brown on top and creamy in the middle and came with an assortment of vegetables cooked a point.

We ordered a glass each of the exceedingly good house wine (amazing value at �3.75) and drank another toast - this time to chef Chris Moody and his second-in-command, Simon Atkinson, for an outstanding meal. But as the aforementioned food critic once said, 'Don't trust the review - go and try it for yourself.' Do you know, I'm warming to that nice Mr Gill.

The Half Moon Inn,

Glass House Lane



RH14 0LT

01403 820 223

More restaurant reviews available

online at www.sussexlife.co.uk

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