A couple of weeks ago my sister and I wanted a day out with our parents in the South Downs. Who knew trying to get a Sunday lunch in West Sussex was going to be so tricky? I’ll also add who knew you have to get a second mortgage to visit local tourist attractions but that’s a whole other story.
Anyway, we must have tried to book online or call about a dozen pubs and they were all full. I dare say that this still has something to do with a lot of hospitality businesses being under staffed but it was an eye-opener.
Just before complete despair settled in, thankfully we eventually stumbled upon the Anglesey Arms on the Goodwood Estate.
It’s a perfectly formed mid-to-late Georgian coaching inn a mile or so from the Goodwood farm shop. Clearly a lot of love has been put into a recent renovation keeping the original ceiling beams and herringbone floor alongside the obligatory roaring fire, tasteful antiques and paintings of the aristocratic families associated with the wider estate. All very cosy and atmospheric without being overly twee – thankfully, I didn’t spot a shire horse brass.
The bar area is a cosy snug with a more expansive dining room to the side. To the rear there’s a decent acre or so of garden with plenty of benches and an open-sided marquee for rainy days. Even on a sunny but chilly early April day, the garden was bustling with couples and families and one rather spoilt labrador being fed tid-bits from its owners plate.
There’s a good choice of starters and bar snacks – ranging from pub grub such as scotch egg with piccalilli and crispy pork belly bites aka pork scratchings through to dishes inspired by international kitchens such as arancini, croquettas, padron peppers and southern fried chicken and prawns. Prices range from £5-£9.50.
It was good to see that alongside the line-up of roasts – beef, lamb, pork or vegetable wellington – there were a few other lighter choices including pan-fried trout with garlic shrimp and an asparagus and pea risotto for those days when a hunk of meat isn’t floating your boat.
As I don’t particularly cook roast dinners at home, I went for the belly pork with apple. It was a hearty enough portion of melt-in-the-mouth pork although the skin could have been a little crispier. There were plentiful sharing bowls of vegetables for the table – green beans, carrots, roast parsnip and red cabbage – made all the more tasty by lashings of butter.
A slight moan here would be that the Yorkshire pudding only came with the beef. In this day-and-age you can be pretty confident that everyone who orders a Sunday roast wants a pudding with it so a bit mean to charge £3.50 for one; it’s just a simple batter after all. But I’d say that the roasts did represent good value at £15-£18.
Chef definitely knows his stuff. Although there’s nothing particularly earth-shattering in terms of creativity, dishes are well-balanced and considered and a lot of care goes into the plating to ensure they are a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.
Quality produce is clearly an important part of the offering. Although not particularly local, the beef heralds from the acclaimed Aubrey Allen butchers in Leamington Spa who source from high welfare livestock farmers. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least half a dozen small family-owned farms rearing amazing quality meat in West Sussex alone so this appears a strange decision if its not price-led.
There wasn’t really much of a showing of Sussex beers on the pumps with the only local wine on the list being a Bolney Estate sparkling and the closest-located spirit was a gin from Chapel Down over in Kent. With Sussex being home to 75 plus vineyards, 50-odd breweries, around 20 craft distilleries and a number of traditional and modern style cider makers it seems like a missed opportunity not to include at least a few local drink producers.
Service was friendly and fairly quick but some of the servers did seem to be a bit more focussed on have a gossip in the service area rather than catching the diner’s eyes but this is a pub that no doubt relies on the labour of the kids of local villagers so a relatively minor detail.
Overall, Sunday lunch at the Anglesey Arms was a pleasant hour or so interlude. It is a lovely space – everything you’d want from a country pub – and the food ticked all the relevant box. I think the shame is it would be a decent pub if it was picked up and dropped anywhere in the country. It would do well to fill plates and glasses with a little bit more Sussex.
The Anglesey Arms, Halnaker, Chichester PO18 0NQ
01243 699 644 • www.theangleseyarms.com