The Tudor House - Restaurant Review
Lulu Larkin embarks on a mission to discover the best family-friendly restaurants <br/><br/>in the county. There isn't a bouncy castle or a Turkey Twizzler in sight at the Tudor House restaurant in Alfriston...
GIVE me a child until he's seven and I'll give you a gourmet for life. This is increasingly the mantra of top restaurants and chefs, who believe it's never too early for children to learn good behaviour in restaurants, appreciate fine food and enjoy the whole experience of dining out with their families.
Just ask Jamie, Gordon or Alexis Gauthier, the inspirational proprietor-chef of the Roussillon restaurant in Pimlico, whose �15 mini-gourmande menu has been a phenomenal success. Children happily munch their way through six courses of gourmet food, which could include sea bass and mango salad, seared scallops, wild mushroom risotto with rhubarb and pomegranate jelly to finish. Wow! I'd happily chomp my way through that lot, too.
But nearer home in Sussex, we'd promised our nephews, affectionately known as What and Ever, a trip to the zoo, so where could we go afterwards for lunch that didn't have a fenced-off area with a ball-pit, bouncy castle or a chips-with-everything menu? Not to mention all the screaming, tantrums and dreadful table manners? And that's just the adults.
Fortunately some friends in Alfriston came to the rescue and recommended the Tudor House. Here was a family-owned, children-friendly restaurant with a reputation for great food and just a five-minute drive away from Drusillas.
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We were welcomed into this charming, 14th-century oak-beamed restaurant by Susie, who seated us on a table near the roaring fire and brought the menu and drinks all round before you could say Anne Boleyn.
What and Ever sprang to life and ordered filo-wrapped prawns with a sweet chilli dip, which they declared to be 'safa' - even cooler than 'cool' apparently - while Daniel and I shared the (huge and delicious) smoked mackerel salad with horseradish dressing and garlic croutons.
From an extensive choice of main courses, all reasonably-priced at around �8, the boys went for the most robust dishes: steamed bacon and onion suet pudding, haddock with cheddar mash and poached egg, local sausages with lyonnaise potatoes and home-made baked beans, while I opted for the day's special: two generous fillets of sea bass on a herby risotto with parmesan.
Everything was absolutely delicious. Mega safa in fact. I don't know how they managed it but What and Ever found space for sticky toffee pudding with ice cream while Daniel had a fluffily-light hazelnut meringue with berries, passion fruit ice cream and - what a nice touch - two spoons.
Owners Roger and Louise Wallwork have been running the Tudor House for seven years. They travelled the world collecting culinary ideas and inspirations before deciding to start up a restaurant of their own, with Roger in charge of the cooking.
As a mother of two young girls, Louise strongly believes that eating out should be an enjoyable experience for all the family: "We actively encourage children to taste a variety of food (for them everything on the menu is half-price), to play outside in the garden and enjoy the sunshine. As long as they respect the furniture and other customers, there is no better place for them. If the children are happy, the parents are, too." Well said, Louise. Sounds like the perfect recipe.
The Tudor House Restaurant
01323 870 891
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online at www.sussexlife.co.uk
The Garden Restaurant
The Grand Hotel, King Edwards Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 4EQ tel: 01323 412345 www.grandeastbourne.co.uk
If you want to introduce your children to the concept of fine dining, table etiquette and a gastronomic feast they will never forget, then look no further than the opulent Garden Restaurant at the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne. For a three-course menu costing less than �10, they will be treated to an array of sensational food guaranteed to tickle the tastebuds of even the fussiest eater. After discovering what a table d'hte menu is, maybe they could try smoked trout and prawn terrine followed by grilled fillet of sea bass. The dessert trolley here is legendary and children will be spoiled for choice. If they're lucky, they might enjoy the pyrotechnics involved in a banana being flamb�d at the table. Hopefully after such a wonderful experience, their table manners will be as impeccable as the food and service.
67 Broyle Road, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 6BD
tel: 01243 788724/536307 www.commeca.co.uk
A short walk from the Festival Theatre, Comme a features imaginative Normandy cooking in beautiful surroundings and children can choose whatever they like from the menu for �9.50 as long as it's not chips! It's a great opportunity, too, for them to improve their French by ordering moules, escargots or une assiette de fromage, s'il vous plait. Encourage them to try out their conversational skills with the charmingly indulgent waiters. The French family lunch every Sunday is de rigeur.
5A Park Place, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1DF
tel: 01403 271125 www.filippos.org.uk
This is Horsham's only family-run restaurant and offers a wide range of Italian and Sicilian specialities. Whether you eat in the caf� downstairs, outside on the terrace or in the more formal dining room on the first floor, your bambini will be assured of a warm Mediterranean welcome from Filippo and Tina Marziano and oh, go on then, let them have pizza and chips and ice cream. You can't be good all the time and after all, everything for them is half-price - fantastico! Besides, you can walk off the calories with a post-prandial stroll to the dancing fountains, the Millennium sundial or the splendid Horsham Museum.