The Dorset Arms in Withyham - Sussex restaurant review


- Credit: Archant

Alice Cooke went in search of rustic charm, a bustling, friendly atmosphere and of course, some really great food. She wasn’t disappointed. Photos by Simon Callaghan - Credit: Archant

Owned by Lord De La Warr of the Buckhurst Park Estate, I had high hopes for the Dorset Arms, and upon arrival I found the place to be buzzing with jolly chatter from families, couples and those seeking refuge from the brisk wind outside.

Part of the historic Buckhurst Estate, the pub is named after the Earls and Dukes of Dorset, one time heads of the Sackville family, and shares a heritage of family ownership now headed by their descendant, William Sackville, the 11th Earl De La Warr.

The food being served up looked mouth watering, and smelt as good as it looked, so I was eager to try it for myself. Luckily the service is both efficient and friendly, and it was no time at all before we were being shown to our table, which was on the way to the kitchen. This was at once a blessing and a curse as we could see everybody else’s choices as they left the kitchen, and so get an idea of what we might like, but if I was eager to tuck in when I arrived I was even keener once I’d seen what was on offer.

Having ordered we had a few moments to take in the décor, which is charmingly traditional, with an agricultural and country sports theme – right up my street. The menu too offers a great range of seasonal game options, but I opted for the famous sausages from Lord De La Warr’s own Buckhurst Sausages range.

I was told that Lord De La Warr adored the traditional butcher’s sausages that he was given as a child, and has since devoted his time to tracking down the recipe, the result of which is his own range, and I must say, they are delicious.

I am partial to a banger at the best of times, but these are seriously impressive sausages, and it makes them all the more satisfying to know that they were made mere miles from where I was enjoying them.

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Quite apart from the sausages, which are well worth a try, the menu is pleasingly varied and there’s something for everyone – the parfait I enjoyed to start was particularly good, as was my companion’s lamb shank.

Although more than satisfied we couldn’t resist ordering a pudding, and it was just as well that we did – both the treacle tart and the brownie were an absolute triumph.

Although pub classics are an option, the selection here is far superior to what you would expect to find in a village inn – and both the quality of the meat and the satisfyingly fresh vegetables (all locally sourced), are fantastic. Food provenance is taken seriously here and it shows.

Head chef

Head chef - Credit: Archant

The staff couldn’t be more smiley or friendly if they tried, especially considering that on the afternoon we visited it was nearing a full house – they are a credit to the place, which is well worth a visit.

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