THE DISH DETECTIVE: The Richmond Arms, West Ashling, near Chichester
It's summer festival season and I can well remember the nerves and excitement I felt going to my first Glastonbury as a teenager.
It seems like yesterday I was begging my parents to, firstly, let me make the trip to Somerset and, secondly, part with the cash for the ticket.
My friends and I could hardly contain ourselves as we packed our bags full of cider, wet wipes, disposable cameras and more changes of clothes than we’d ever need.
My goodness, it was thrilling.
But nowadays, you’d have to pay me to go to a festival.
Forget listening to bands in a muddy field drinking warm beer.
Our social lives are a lot more sophisticated now.
But we get close to that level of teenage excitement when we go to a new restaurant.
My partner in crime and I have wanted to check out The Richmond Arms, in West Ashling, near Funtington, West Sussex, for absolutely ages.
We’d heard such great things about the pub , which is at the foot of the South Downs, close to Goodwood.
We arrived and felt just the right level of hungry, ready for a delicious three course feast.
It’s a beautiful pub in a beautiful setting. And the staff were really warm and welcoming.
The decor and atmosphere were delightful and the little finishing touches, like the salt and pepper in sea shells, made for an elegant setting.
The menu had quite a few unfamiliar ingredients, such as monks beard (a green shoot vegetable) and scamorza (an Italian cheese), and although it’s quite an expensive restaurant, it’s relaxed enough that you don’t feel embarrassed asking lots of questions about the dishes and the provenance of ingredients.
I plumped for a really delicious , warm and runny chorizo Scotch egg with pickled fennel. It was warm, soft and melted in the mouth. The delicate saffron aioli really set it off.
My companion went for crispy Selsey lobster taco, smashed avocado, pomelo ( a type of citrus fruit) and Macadamia nuts.
The flavours were delicate, with a bit of heat, but it was small and all over in two bites.
I cannot resist beef brisket and this smoky, sticky slow-cooked take on pub grub, with dripping chips and spring slaw, screamed out ‘pick me’!
The sauce was sweet, the chips were perfect and the slaw was nice and crunchy. But the meat was a little dry – and there seemed to be so much of it that I couldn’t finish it, which was a shame.
The roasted Barbary duck with smashed wood roast beetroot and date molasses was tasty.
But I agreed with my companion that it was moist and well-seasoned, but not quite a rare as it perhaps should have been. The skin was lovely and crispy and the marinade had a rich sweet warmth.
The dessert was not as I would have expected for a crème brulee – I thought it would have been smoother and more creamy, but the texture and flavour of the banana seemed to overpower it and the chocolate crumb was quite bitter.
The Baileys ice cream on top just didn’t complement it for me either.
And the elderflower in the rice pudding fritters did not come through.
There were lovely moments and the atmosphere was wonderful, but, for all our excitement, we left feeling a little underwhelmed. The bill came to just over £80, including a glass of wine each.