Marwick’s, part of the Millstream Hotel in picturesque Bosham, opened its doors in May to offer hotel guests and casual visitors two or three-course lunch or dinner at fixed times, with the brasserie offering lighter meals or just simply a coffee or snack.
Named after William Marwick, a builder who lived in one of the three 17th century cottages that became the hotel, Marwick’s is the quintessence of smart casual.
It is accessed through a very pretty sheltered courtyard (or, Lion, Witch and Wardrobe-like, through an innocuous-looking sliding door via the dining room if it’s bucketing down).
The 40-cover restaurant’s interior sports luscious velvet-like stripes on its chairs and banquettes and tasteful grey, brown and light yellow wallpaper. The music, though, is jarring.
However, the adjacent traditional hotel restaurant looks very hush-hush dated and staid in comparison – no contest for this diner.
The modern menu has accessible two-tier pricing for many of the starters and light bites. They include the kitchen’s own home-smoked salmon with rye bread; salt beef with piccalilli; Asian duck cake with a carrot and sesame salad and a chilli and cucumber dip; Mediterranean couscous with grilled halloumi (all at £6); local crab salad with Bloody Mary vinaigrette ((£8 or £15) or an antipasti platter for two with salamis, hams, Italian cheeses, breads and salad (£12).
Mains include a Thai chicken with jasmine rice (£10); tagliatelle with chorizo, roasted peppers, chilli and tomato sauce (£9.50); fish and chips with mushy peas; a flan of local tomatoes with goat’s cheese and balsamic, cheddar and spring onion sauce; ribeye steak with goose fat chips.
First up, one of the prettiest dishes I have seen for many a moon, the Asian duck cake. Beautifully crisp without, meat-meets-spices-meets-sweet potato within, it oozed confidence and flavour.
The home-made chilli dip was superb, the thin and crisp and even filigree-like carrots sublime. Less can be said about the beautifully-presented hake with warm asparagus salad and roasted new potatoes.
The fish was woefully overcooked, the potatoes over-roasted and hard, the asparagus grilled and not in a warm salad.
Balsamic vinegar overpowered the dish, extra over-the-top richnesses including peppers and tomatoes. This kitchen can’t leave well alone, another layer added and then another.
For desserts you can try an Eton Mess, sticky toffee pudding with banana ice cream or one of the sharing sundaes.
I certainly feel an urge to return for some of the other, more simple, dishes.
Service is delightful too, particularly by a foreign-accented waitress who couldn’t be more in tune with hospitality.
My bill came to just under £25 for two courses and a rather over-oaked Chardonnay-like French Sauvignon Blanc.
Marwick’s, Millstream Hotel, Bosham Lane, Bosham PO18 8HL 01243 578599
Open: All week from 10am (coffee and pastries), kitchen opens at noon-9.30pm last orders.
Food: Three (out of five)
Disabled access: Fine.
How to get there: Exit the A27 at Emsworth and follow the A259 going towards Chichester to the Bosham roundabout. Take the Bosham road, turn right into Bosham Lane, head for the harbour and the hotel is on the right.