13 of the prettiest places to eat outside in Sussex
- Credit: Amberley Castle
Looking for somewhere to eat and drink in the great outdoors? We’ve rounded up a selection of the county’s most picturesque spots.
1. Amberley Castle, near Arundel
Steeped in 900 years of history, Amberley Castle is like something out of a fairytale. Behind those medieval walls lies 12 acres of formal gardens with rose-covered arches, topiary, perennial borders and Koi carp ponds.
The food: Those wanting to dine al fresco can order from the all-day pantry menu, enjoy afternoon tea, or order a luxury hamper packed with treats. Plump for the Laurent-Perrier Champagne Afternoon Tea Flight, which delights with cakes, savoury bites and finger sandwiches served with tea or coffee and three different glasses of Champagne.
Why we rate it: Enjoy the views from the terrace or take your hamper into the grounds - resident peacocks Bob and Lily can help tidy any crumbs.
The details: The luxury hotel is re-opening on May 19 for afternoon teas, pantry, dinner and overnight stays. Everything is pre-bookable. 01798 831 992, amberleycastle.co.uk
2. Coppa Club, The Lanes at Brighton Square, Brighton
The two igloos on the terrace at the Coppa Club, which seat up to six, have been transformed for spring with suspended botanicals, festoon lighting, woven wicker chairs, bamboo lanterns and linen throws creating an intimate, escapist ambience.
The food: The all-day à la carte menu has a delicious line-up of unfussy seasonal European dishes, such as sharing plates of seared garlic king prawns, Devon crab linguine and sourdough pizzas.
Why we rate it: There’s an impressive drinks menu offering everything from cold press smoothies to Bollinger.
The details: The igloos are available to book online until June 20. Open from 11am-11pm Monday to Friday; 9am-11pm Saturday and Sunday. 01273 900731, coppaclub.co.uk
3. Jeremy’s Restaurant, Borde Hill Garden, Haywards Heath
You can dine on the terrace at this popular eatery led by husband-and-wife team Jeremy and Vera Ashpool, who have been firm fixtures on the Sussex culinary scene for over 40 years.
The food: Head chef Jimmy Gray is known for his creative dishes that are packed full of flavour. Try the south coast wild black bream with lemon and wild garlic gnocchi, asparagus from South Brockwell Farm and a Selsey crab bisque.
Why we rate it: Much of the produce is sourced locally with a selection of ingredients including herbs, vegetables, edible flowers, lavender and wild garlic picked from the garden.
The details: The outdoor service is running from Thursday to Sunday, from 12:30-3pm until May 19. The venue is planning a full in-house opening from this date. Book a minimum of 24 hours in advance. 01444 441102, jeremysrestaurant.co.uk
4. Eighteen Acre Café & Restaurant, Bolney Wine Estate, Haywards Heath
Tuck into breakfast or lunch on the restaurant’s balcony overlooking the ripening vines. The tranquil setting delivers a calming dining experience. Plus, it’s dog-friendly.
The food: All the food is sourced locally and the chefs weave in lots of nourishing seasonal ingredients. There’s a variety of light bites and mezze plates to pick from, such as Local Cheese Croquettes, along with matched Bolney wine flights.
Why we rate it: There’s also a takeaway service, as well as hampers packed with Sussex produce and wines available to buy from the shop, so you can enjoy a picnic in the grounds if you prefer.
The details: The balcony is open from 10am-5pm, Wednesday to Sunday (last orders 3:30pm). Seats offered on a first-come, first-served basis. The Estate will be fully open from May 17. 01444 881 575, bolneywineestate.com
5. Shelter Hall, Brighton
Having opened its doors on April 26 for outdoor dining, Sessions Market’s Shelter Hall is the city’s newest seafront dining venue and Brighton's only food hall. Get set for a side of entertainment with your meal as there’s also a bar and an entertainment space featuring local brands, musicians and artists.
The food: There are seven chef-led kitchens, including a brand-new concept from MasterChef Winner Kenny Tutt. Check out the Incubator Kitchen offering four-month residencies to local chefs and start-ups.
Why we rate it: There’s room for 240 on the outdoor terrace, with soothing sea views to boot. You can collect your meal and dine on the beach, if it takes your fancy.
The details: Open from 8am to midnight, from Monday to Sunday. Indoor dining from May 17. Tables are available to book but a selection are reserved for walk-ins. shelterhall.co.uk
6. Blake’s Bar & Beach Terrace, The Beachcroft Hotel and Beach Hut Suites, Felpham
This newly extended garden terrace restaurant will charm you with its warm and friendly service and views of Felpham Beach.
The food: Spend an afternoon sunning yourself while savouring a traditional English afternoon tea with all the trimmings. There’s also a selection of freshly made sandwiches and light lunches.
Why we rate it: The private dining pod is ideal for special occasions, seating up to four people.
The details: Open daily from noon to 6pm. 01243 827142, beachcroft-hotel.co.uk
7. Farmer, Butcher, Chef, Goodwood, Chichester
Goodwood’s flagship restaurant has launched a separate outside bar and alfresco restaurant area to dine and unwind in.
The food: On the table d'hôte menu for April (last sitting 7pm), you’ll find rolled hot smoked salmon, glazed Goodwood beef brisket, vanilla and ginger cheesecake and more. The spring à la carte menu is brimming with luxuries including Sussex Red steak tartare.
Why we rate it: It’s likely you’ve travelled further to get there than the food. Organic beef, pork, lamb, cheese and milk comes from the self-sustaining organic Home Farm just yards away.
The details: Open for lunch from Thursday to Saturday and daily for dinner. 01243 755070, goodwood.com
8. Orangery Terrace, Buxted Park Hotel, Uckfield
Claim your spot on the sweeping Orangery Terrace at this dog-friendly Palladian mansion. Relax and enjoy the breath-taking views of the orangery, perfectly manicured lawns and the Ashdown Forest beyond.
The food: There's freshly baked pizza, sharing platters and sizzling grills to choose from. Or, you can plump for an alfresco afternoon tea.
Why we rate it: You’ll be following in the footsteps of William Wordsworth, Winston Churchill and Marlon Brando who have all paid a trip to this country retreat, which was built in 1722 by Sir Thomas Medley.
The details: Open daily from 11am-7.30pm. Advance booking is required. 01825 733333, handpickedhotels.co.uk/buxtedpark
9. Champagne and Afternoon Tea Terraces, Alexander House Hotel & Utopia Spa, East Grinstead
These south facing terraces overlook 120 acres of beautiful gardens at this Jacobean manor.
The food: The spring menu, served from the rosette-awarded kitchens, features locally sourced gems, such as Sussex Day Boat Catch of the Day supplied by Brighton & Newhaven Fish. You can also book in for afternoon tea, which is served daily from noon to 4:30pm and includes quirky blends from Brighton-based tea company Hoogly.
Why we rate it: Extend your visit with a spot of croquet or challenge your other half to a game of giant chess in the garden.
The details: Available from Monday to Saturday. Advance booking required. Full re-opening on May 17. 01342 714914, alexanderhotels.co.uk
10. Clocktower Café & Farm Shop, Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens, Horsham
This cute venue, complete with outdoor seating, can be found at the top of the gardens, close to Leonardslee House.
The food: You can pick up hot and cold drinks, light lunches, cakes and pastries at the self-service café from 9am. Alternatively, pop into the farm shop for a mouth-watering line-up of local produce from the estate and selected suppliers. Load up on breads, meats, cheeses and condiments for a delicious picnic to enjoy within the grounds.
Why we rate it: The 240-acre Grade I listed garden is an extra special setting. It was closed for 10 years before being restored and opened to the public again in 2019.
The details: 0871 8733 363, leonardsleegardens.co.uk
11. Camellia, South Lodge, Horsham
This two AA Rosette winning restaurant is sure to impress with its spacious terrace boasting stunning vistas of the South Downs.
The food: Expect contemporary interpretations of traditional seasonal dishes prepared with flair using fresh vegetables from the hotel's walled kitchen garden.
Why we rate it: The chefs are hot on ingredients with traceable provenance and are well plugged into Sussex’s farming community – an advantage that shines through in the intense flavours of the dishes.
The details: Open Monday to Saturday and Sunday for lunch only. The terrace opens for the summer months. £20 deposit per person required for all bookings to secure your table. 01403 892235, exclusive.co.uk/south-lodge
12. Purchases Bar & Restaurant, Chichester
Owned and run by Tim Vaughan, who transformed Blackbush Market into one of the UK’s biggest attractions, Purchases Bar & Restaurant offers an al fresco fine dining experience with a welcome dash of comfort and fun.
The food: Go à la carte – there are mains such as roasted fillet of halibut and confit duck to tempt you, followed by a Sussex and Hampshire cheese selection.
Why we rate it: The gardens are immaculately maintained with discreet heaters and subtle lighting creating a cosy ambience in the evening.
The details: Open daily for lunch. Guests will be allocated a table in the garden. Open fully from May 16. 01243 771444, purchasesrestaurant.co.uk
13. Kinsbrook Vineyard, West Chiltington
The outdoor wine bar is open for business at this family-run vineyard founded by Joseph Beckett - the youngest vineyard owner in the country.
The food: Pair a fine wine with tapas-style dishes or feast on cheese and charcuterie boards and fritters with aioli.
Why we rate it: If you want to learn more about English wine production, you can follow your meal with a tour of the vineyard. Private dining in the vines is available to book throughout the summer.
The details: The outdoor wine bar is open daily 9am to 5pm Sunday to Tuesday, and 9am to 7pm Wednesday to Saturday. The kitchen operates from Wednesday to Sunday. Customers will be seated on a first-come-first-served basis (no bookings accepted). 01403 741967, kinsbrookvineyard.com
Opening dates and offerings are subject to government guidance and may change. Check ahead and be sure to book, if needed, before visiting.