My partner and I headed to The Glass House restaurant at Wickwoods Country Club, Hotel & Spa on a Friday night.
This meant the stunning surrounding countryside – just a few miles north of Brighton – would be a nice surprise in the morning.
Situated in the country club’s orangery, but open to all, the restaurant boasts a menu with two courses for £24.50 and three for £29.50 meaning there’s no doubt it is competitively priced.
Concise, locally sourced and varied were other adjectives which sprung to mind.
For first course my partner opted for the Grange Farm wood pigeon breast with puy lentils, root vegetables, parsley and smoked bacon, a dish he said had ‘a really nice combination and earthy flavours of the lentils with the crisp bacon’.
Across the table I’d gone for the Isle of Skye hand dived scallops with celeriac fondant and puree, charred tenderstem broccoli and red wine sauce (£3 supplement).
What was a revelation was the brave charring of the broccoli which offered a real punch of flavour. In fact the whole dish was a level playing ground in the taste stakes, which kept it interesting and meant what would usually be supporting acts shone as much as the perfectly cooked scallops.
For main course my partner, after pretending the rump of lamb and corn fed chicken might be considered, opted for the steak. As, if it is an option, it always is.
And what an option – 28 day aged 10oz sirloin steak with roasted vine tomatoes, choice of sauce; peppercorn, mushroom or garlic butter (£3.50 supplement).
But it wasn’t the meat which received the first compliment with the mushroom sauce gaining praise for its assortment of fungi.
“What you usually get is a thick mushroom flavoured sauce but with this there is variety,” he said. “It is a nice way of doing it, and means each mouthful is a bit different.”
Once again I returned to the sea by selecting the Loch Duart salmon with braised fennel, purple sprouting broccoli, mussels, marinière sauce.
Everything is clearly so carefully considered and only makes it to the table.
It was harmonious, fresh, light and plate-scrapingly good.
Now to the final, but my favourite, course.
Or should it have been final round?
Food is not something that often gets the better of my partner but the warm dark chocolate tart with raspberry ice cream certainly came close. The chocolate was unashamedly rich and while the raspberry served up a striking contrast the two were a force to be reckoned with.
As for me, the rhubarb cheesecake with ginger ice-cream would have clinched it but I don’t think six words have ever made my mouth water as much as ‘pineapple tarte tatin with coconut ice-cream’.
And the dish delivered on the tropical promises made by the menu.
Needless to say, while apple will always be a classic, this twist on the tarte tatin is proof that thinking outside the box pays off.
Where: The Glass House, Wickwoods Country Club, Hotel & Spa, Shaves Wood Lane, Albourne, West Sussex BN6 9DY
What: Good quality modern European menu by head chef Vincent Fayat
Contact: 01273 857567, email@example.com, or visit Wickwoods.co.uk