The Parsons Table in Arundel - Restaurant review - Credit: Archant

The Parsons Table in Arundel opened less than a year ago but an extremely accomplished kitchen and flawless front-of-house service belie its youth, writes Jenny Mark-Bell

When it opened in December 2015, The Parsons Table was a welcome addition to Arundel. The attention to local suppliers and the well-judged character of the restaurant made it difficult to believe that owners Lee and Liz Parsons had only been in the area for two months.

Since then it has become a firm favourite with locals and we felt rather late to the party by the time we visited in the summer.

It’s a soothing, informal space and the menu is concise and confident, with an interesting and ever-changing specials board: on a hot day, the piquant gazpacho with locally produced Nutbourne tomatoes was arrestingly fresh and zingy: I could have supped it by the bucketload.

Meanwhile a salad of rich, unctuous Sussex Blue cheese and sweet, spicy poached pear nodded towards the changing season.

Liz and Lee met 21 years ago at Claridges, where he was a sous chef. Liz was doing management training course at The Savoy Group. Lee has also worked at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and won awards in Canada, where they lived for 10 years before moving to Arundel. This high-end pedigree really shows – front of house is assiduous and warm. On a later visit we found the restaurant packed to capacity, but the service was still fuss-free and attentive.

While they were renovating Liz and Lee took the time to meet suppliers, knowing that seasonality was paramount to their kitchen ethos. They had existing contacts from their time in England and Liz grew up in Brighton. “We wanted to go with smaller produce companies,” says Liz. “The butcher we use is from Loxwood and that recommendation came from one of the mums at school [the couple have twin six-year-old girls] who’d worked in the industry.”

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There’s always a catch of the day listed on the menu as “served simply”. I had lemon sole, which came with a toothsome herb quinoa with tender little broad beans. Fishcakes came with a lip-smacking homemade tartare sauce. “We try to change menus every six to eight weeks,” says Liz. “That’s for seasonality and in terms of what we can get in terms of produce. Specials are a good way of exploring different dishes and trying things out. We try to keep the menu quite lean because we’re a small kitchen.”

Our meal finished with a hazelnut custard tart and all I can say is I hope its place on the menu is assured forever. It caused some marital discord (I declined my own pudding, then ate more than half) but boy, was it worth it for the most delicious dessert I’ve had in a long time.

Lunches from £6.50 for a starter up to £14 for a main. Dinner from £6.75 for a starter to £19.75 for a main.

2 and 8 Castle Mews, Tarrant Street, Arundel;; 01903 883477


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