The Richmond Arms, West Ashling

The Richmond Arms
The Richmond Arms

LETTER OF THE DAY: Housing - more needs to be done

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The Richmond Arms, tucked away down lanes in the hinterland north of Emsworth, has recently been transformed.

New people in charge have brought with them the skills to lift the pub out of the doldrums and also pots of stylish grey paint which has now been liberally and smartly brushed inside and out.

The tiny pub, divided into two areas, seats only 24 in the restaurant part, with the bar a welcome haven for drinkers and snackers.

Oh, and boots of the muddy walker variety seem to be welcome. This is not divisive territory.

Open fires, candles, scrubbed floors and tables are joined by a startling bit of red kit, a humongous, sturdy red iron Parma ham slicer on a stand.

The changing menu is modern and serious. Take the 48-hour cooked short rib of beef with dripping chips and Béarnaise sauce; rotisserie poussin peri-peri with smoked aioli, rosemary roasting tin tatties; beer-battered halloumi with smashed peas, mint chips and tartar or sustainable coley with sweet potato, spicy peppers and hollandaise.

Start with slow-cooked pork with pickled cucumber and hoi sin; Selsey crab ball with kaffir lime or molten taleggio risotto cake with fennel and pea shoots, my choice.

These sensational little balls, not cake, reeked of quality and flavour, a topnotch of thinly sliced fennel adding zest and depth.

A tin container of excellent bread and thyme butter was a welcome addition and if you feel hard done by for condiments, sea salt and black pepper come in two oyster shells.

Anyone who has passed through Funtington will know this is pig country, so it would have been churlish not to choose the pork belly on the specials board.

This was priced at just under £13 (most mains are around the £15 mark).

My two slices were stunningly cooked and looked a million dollars, the glistening pork aided by halved sauteed new potatoes, apple wedges, parsnip purée and an excellent gravy.

Those with stamina might be able to fit in a crumble with ice cream; hot sugared banana chocolate roll with banana ice cream or a hot baked camembert with Pugliese bread for dunking.

The wine list is pretty darned good too and the service spot-on.

If not rescued, I suspect the pub would have just folded, another village losing its one hub of the community.

For those who yearn after plain old pubs, they are only viable with good grub and equally good hospitality, as amply demonstrated here.

Expect to see more of this genre – or go without. My bill came to just over £21 including an excellent glass of Spanish red.

The Richmond Arms, Mill Road, West Ashling

01243 572046

Open: 11.30am–2pm and 6.30pm-9.30pm Wed–Sun. Closed Sun evening and all day Mon and Tues

Food: * * * * *

Service: * * * * *

Atmosphere: * * * * *

Disabled access: Good

How to get there: Exit A27 at Emsworth, follow the town centre signs, then take first left at roundabout to Westbourne. Follow signs to Funtington. Once there, turn right down Watery Lane. Turn right at the end by the mill pond and pub is on the left. Car park.