On Saturday, I went with my family to the Old House restaurant in Copthorne, Sussex. It was supposed to be a table of 7, but as my big bro and his wife got horrifically trapped on the M40 and Ben only managed to get through as we were leaving the restaurant, there was just the four of us. But my dad, my mum, my aunt and I still had a lovely time.
We’ve been to the Old House before. We keep going back – it is lovely. We went there for my mum’s 50th, my 18th and now my mum’s big 6-0. Despite the stupidly low ceilings (it is a period building after all) the place is incredibly charming and the food is amazing.
The staff congratulated us as we ducked through the door, dusting off the snow – I’m sure they had many cancellations that evening due to bad weather. They offered us a seat in their ante-room – sofas by an open fire – and brought us champagne (well, I had a G&T – not actually a fan of champagne) and canapés.
Whilst sipping our drinks, we chose our meals. We were waiting to see if any of the others would get through, but after we got the 8pm call from Adam saying he was turning back, we decided to go through to our table.
What followed was a delicious and tastefully presented meal. I suspect a number of staff were unable to get through that evening, as we were often waited on by the restaurant managers – charming couple.
For starters, I went for smoked salmon with pickled cucumber – the cucumber was surprisingly tangy and complimented the salmon beautifully. Delicious, and I made it disappear very quickly. My mum decided to give starters a miss, and I can’t for the life of me remember what my dad had. My aunty had this gorgeous looking duck liver parfait, served with an intriguing grape chutney and toasted fruit bread:
Main courses arrived seamlessly – in fact, we didn’t have to wait long all evening (not that we were rushed, either – the staff seemed to be very intuitive when it came to timing). We set ourselves up with a bottle of red (Fleurie Cuvee Presidente Margeurite 2009) and a bottle of sparkling water. The birthday girl went for a lovely looking salmon fillet:
…whilst my dad went for twice roast belly of pork (famously the most delicious and least healthy cut of pork). My aunty went for a double whammy of liver, choosing pan fried calves liver, served with bacon, creamed potatoes, roasted shallots and Burgundy jus:
Predictably, I went for the duck breast. Oh yes. Grilled and presented on fondant potato, buttered cabbage and sweet and sour jus. It was, surprisingly, a little bit tough, but otherwise utterly amazing. The sweet cabbage matched the rich flavour of the duck perfectly:
Look! A parcel of beans!
We did manage to fit some sort of pudding in. I just had a liqueur coffee (Kahlua, if you’re interested), but mum went for an amazing vanilla panna cotta (it’s like jelly made of milk! Why have I never had one?) and my aunt had a plum crème brûlée, with a satisfyingly thick sugar crust.
I love the Old House. I doubt this is the last time I’ll go there. Fine, it’s not for the faint hearted – about £50 a head, plus wine – but for a special occasion, it’s perfect. Quality food, a large wine selection and delightful staff. The building itself is charming with its dark wood beams and open fire places, but just mind those low ceilings!
So what are you waiting for? You can even book online at their website…
The Old House Restaurant
Tel: 01342 712222
Fax: 01342 716493
Image credits: Old House from their website, the rest are my own.