There’s been a pub at the quiet West Sussex village of Sutton since the 18th century – and The White Horse Inn has recently reinvented itself with a stylish revamp and exceptional food.
It still welcomes a tight-knit community of villagers as it always has, and now it has something for those seeking out a standout dining experience with an impressive new menu.
This is not pub grub - what we have here is fine dining in the glorious countryside.
Inside the venue is a warm and welcoming restaurant - a countryside inn modernised - but we couldn’t resist eating al fresco as we experienced one of the hottest days of the year so far.
Hidden away behind the back of the pub is an outside terrace where we were able to enjoy the peace and quiet of the South Downs village while supping a cold beer and mulling over the menu.
Its offerings include fresh fish plucked from the seas of Brighton and Newhaven, beef and cheese from the Goodwood Estate, pork from Garlic Wood Farm in Shipley and insecticide-free vine tomatoes grown by Nutbourne Nursery.
We asked Billy, the hospitable manager at the White Horse, what he would recommend for a hungry pescatarian journalist and her carnivorous partner.
He suggested a starter of Nutbourne tomato salad, mozzarella and capers for me, and seared scallops with peas, courgette and roe sauce for my partner.
For the mains I opted for Chalk Spring trout with chilli, rösti potato and crab sauce, while my partner tried the pub’s speciality rib eye steak; barbecued, grass-fed, slow-grown, dry-aged beef. This was served with skin-on chips, confit tomato and onion rings and a choice of peppercorn sauce or tarragon and shallot butter.
Out came the succulent scallops - they were cooked to perfection, and perfectly complemented by the roe sauce.
As for my starter, there’s something to be said for locally-grown organic tomatoes. You really can taste the difference. The subtle and sweet flavour of the fresh toms worked superbly with the creamy mozzarella and the zing of the capers.
The mains were marvellous. The trout was immaculate with a crispy skin and a rich, moreish crab sauce, which I mopped up with the rosti potato.
My partner was wowed by the steak, which was tender and full of flavour, served with tasty tarragon butter with triumphantly crispy onion rings.
After being delighted by the mains, we eyed the dessert menu: panna cotta and vanilla crème brûlée almost tempted us – but after eating every morsel of our starter and main – we couldn’t quite manage a dessert. But I’m certain we’ll be back to try them.
Our meal at The White Horse Inn was a real surprise – we didn’t know what to expect – but what we got was top quality food in an idyllic setting.
We were also lucky enough to stay in one of the newly-renovated rooms inside the pub, which are joined by the cottage and the newly built garden lodge rooms outside – perfect for Goodwood-goers or those seeking a break from busy city life.
After a hard day’s work an exquisite meal out in the peaceful countryside, enjoying the last of the sun with a gentle breeze, good company and excellent food was just the ticket.
So if you fancy a jaunt out to the picturesque Sussex Downs, put this hidden gem on your list of places to visit.
Find the White Horse Inn on The Street, Sutton, West Sussex, and find out more at www.whitehorseinn-sutton.co.uk.