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Festive dining ideas – round-up #3

Private dining room at Fourth and Church

Nick Mosley shares a final round-up of of festive dining ideas and venues so you can get ahead of the curve with your plans for Christmas.

If there’s one venue that never fails to impress, it’s Fourth and Church in Hove. A relaxed mix of wine bar, bistro and wine shop, it’s my dad’s favourite place to eat – I quote, “bloody lovely” – and has long been at the higher end of my top ten eateries in Sussex. The festive season sees a continuation of their set sharing menu for two (£45 per person for lunch or £60 per person in the evening). New Year’s Eve will see a special tasting menu accompanied by wine flight but book soon as tickets are selling fast.

Whether you opt for the original Redroaster on St James Street or their shiny new restaurant attached to the Dome on New Road, you’ll be in for a treat with a really decent choice of hearty dishes. It’s a rare occurrence that I want to eat every dish on the menu but with the likes of ‘chicken and duck liver mousse served with crumpets, kumquats and blackberry relish’ and ‘caramelised sprout, fig and burrata salad’ I’ll be loosening my belt a few notches and diving in. Two courses are £29 and three courses £36.

Now if you’re familiar with Redroaster in Kemp Town then you’ll know that in the evening the café seamlessly flips into Lucky Khao – a very funky Thai bbq style restaurant. Perfect for groups, the festive menu is £35.95 per person and features a selection of plant-based hors d’oeuvres followed by bbq bites including lemongrass chicken and their utterly delicious signature sweetcorn ribs. Then you have a choice of three curries and two puddings. You won’t be leaving hungry.

The question of who serves up the best Sunday roast in the city is contentious to say the least, but to my mind the guys at The Stirling Arms in Hove serve up a hearty roast that’s hard to beat. The bustling local has just announced its festive menu with two courses a very reasonable £26.95 including the obligatory roast turkey with all the trimmings. In the run up to Christmas they are hosting Christmas wreath making workshops on 20 and 28 November, whilst on the 21 December Hangleton brass band will be sharing festive cheer with carols.

Over in Eastbourne, chef Loic Williams has joined the kitchen of The Port hotel. The three course menu is priced at £45 with a choice of three dishes including a rather tasty sounding duck and sage potato cake with apple and cider sauce. Expect lots of locally sourced seasonal ingredients and more English wines than you can shake a stick at.

Wiston Estate near Washington in West Sussex has just announced the Christmas menu that will be offered in their beautiful Chalk restaurant. On my last visit we shared a selection of starters but the festive main courses sound very impressive so I think I’ll be sliding in for butter poached cod with roasted cauliflower and crab bisque very soon. Incidentally, Wiston is hosting a late-night Christmas shopping evening on 29 November with live music, mince pies and – of course – plenty of the vineyard’s award-winning wines.

Tinwood Estate's festive roasts

Another vineyard, Tinwood Estate located outside of Chichester, has possibly the most beautiful locations in West Sussex. I visited in the early summer and enjoyed a memorable afternoon savouring their wines and nibbling on bites from the kitchen. There’s plenty happening at the vineyard in the run up to the big day including their ‘Christmas Dinner Series’ featuring five courses paired with still wines and Tinwood sparkling for £95 per person, and also a one-off Christmas Sunday lunch on 24 December with three courses of festive fayre and matched wines for £55 per person.

Out in the wilds of East Sussex, the wonderfully atmospheric Ashdown Park hotel and country club in Forest Row is offering some surprisingly good value lunch and dinner packages in their two rosette Anderida restaurant. A three course mid-week lunch is a steal at £35 per person, with Sunday lunch merely £4 more. Meanwhile a two course lunch in their Forest Brasserie is an unbelievable £26 for two courses. You can easily make a day of it with a spa or golf package, or simply work up an appetite by wandering around the estate grounds.

My final pick of festive dining for this year is the wonderful Aroma Café and Kitchen on Keymer Road between Hassocks and Ditchling Village. Co-owned by Matt Penfold, former restaurant manager at Jeremy’s Restaurant, this small but perfectly formed café is open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday to Sunday, and serves up a bistro service on Friday and Saturday evenings. Their Christmas menu is available from 5 December and features two courses for £28 or three for £36. In this neck of Sussex, Aroma is head-and-shoulders above any other eatery with a friendly, cosy ambiance and top-notch home cooking.


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