Tom Flint: Some top notch country-pub cuisine

Roast beef at The Earl of March
Roast beef at The Earl of March

At the recent Sussex Food Awards, The Earl of March was named Sussex Eating Experience of the year, quite an accolade when you think about it. Following their victory I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to try it for myself and booked a table for a Sunday afternoon. Now we all know that the Sunday roast is sacred in these lands, and the best is always made at home. Every now and then, however, it is nice to get out into the countryside and get someone else to provide the food.

We arrived at the pub, situated in the village of Lavant near Chichester, after a short drive along the A27, with only one directional mishap on my part. The village is small and picturesque with the pub overlooking the green and surrounding fields.

The Earl is a traditional pub that has had a “country plush” spruce up. Bright and spacious inside, there is a welcoming feel with a touch of the modern gastropub about it. The large dining area is busy, with many tables occupied by multi-generational families; it is Sunday afternoon after all, time to grab “the olds” and treat them to a bite to eat in the country.

The Sunday menu is much more diverse than just roasts, making it great for groups with differing tastes. We kick things off with the “Maison” terrine (£9.50) and steamed mussels (£9) with a glass of Nyetimber as a welcome treat. My terrine is the better of the two with a lovely rustic feel to it. The meat is chunky and gamey rich with the pistachio adding texture, some interesting accompaniments enhance the dish further. The mussels are juicy and vibrant in colour, the only downside is that the broth is a little too creamy and not tart enough from the cider.

We both go traditional roast for main, sirloin of beef (£19.50) and lamb “roast of the day” (£16.50) washed down with a bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir (£35) from the extensive wine list. Both roasts arrive and look fantastic. The meat on each is top notch, especially the lamb, and the associated trimmings all hit the spot. The side veg included some roast beetroot, which is an interesting and welcome addition, but the parsnip is a little underdone. In all though the mains are spot on.

Feeling full, and a little tipsy on my part being the non-driver, we decide to go all out and order dessert; which was a wise decision. My sticky toffee pudding with whisky ice cream has a deep molasses caramel flavour that is heavenly. The chocolate brownie is verging on being a liquid and is rich and luxurious. We scoff these and head home for a lie down feeling very full and content.

The Earl of March is a pub that is putting out restaurant quality food in a lovely rural setting. There were one or two aspects of our meal that were not quite right, but it hit the spot on the important areas. The prices are nudging the upper end of the scale but for that you are getting high end gastropub cuisine making it well worth the trip out west.

The Earl of March

Lavant Rd, Chichester PO18 0BQ

01243 533993