I don’t often get to spend time in glorious Sussex these days, so when I do, I really want to make the most of it. I have fond memories of my years living here near the south coast. One of my favourites spots was the area around Pagham and Nyetimber, west of the seaside town of Bognor Regis.
Driving along, the roadside is dotted with elegant detached houses or rows of pastel-hued cottages, often giving way to a series of open fields. On the coast, residents and holidaymakers share the pebbled beaches with rare vegetated shingle flora such as Red Valerian, while at nearby Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve, bird colonies wade about their daily business. It’s truly lovely and unspoilt.
A Traditional Sunday Roast Dinner at The Inglenook Hotel
I recently made one of my occasional visits to the area, to see my good friend and fellow blogger, Kathryn.
We’d made a lunch reservation for the Inglenook Hotel and Restaurant, situated conveniently along Pagham Road. Typically for a bank holiday, the weather didn’t know quite what to do with itself. Earlier, cuddly white clouds had hung innocently across the spring blue sky. As lunchtime approached, they started to show their true colour – an ominous grey. But we were hungry and not about to let a drizzly afternoon dampen our enthusiasm, so off we set.
Unsurprisingly, the dedicated car park at the back was full, but there are good roadside parking options and I found a spot just a few meters down the lane.
The Inglenook, a 16th Century Grade II Listed building and multi-function venue, is a lovely example of an English country Inn, with a spectacular series of wooden beams, a maze of cosy rooms, and a lovely spacious garden at the back.
On approach, it looks exactly how you would expect it to look. The façade consists of a series of white stone, redbrick and timbered sections, with potted plants decorating the front with splashes of pink and purple.
The first thing I noticed as I entered was how authentic the reception area is. It’s often one of the first parts of a hotel or restaurant to be revamped, and occasionally the refurb goes too far in an attempt to modernise. Thank goodness the Honour family, who have owned the Inglenook for over four decades, are wise enough to keep these original features intact.
We were led through a miscellany of quaint rooms, nooks and doorways, eventually emerging into the carvery section and the main restaurant area, which backs onto the garden. Once seated, we were able to take our time to appreciate the charm of the interior architecture and décor, laden with wooden beams, wall-mounted ceramics and other objets d’art.
Traditional Dining at the Inglenook Restaurant
“I could sell that crackling ten times over.”
Choosing what to have could have been quite challenging if we hadn’t already half decided in advance to go for one of their carvery options. The only dilemma left was to decide how many courses we wanted! I briefly considered ordering the Chicken Liver Pate starter – it was the ‘served with onion marmalade and lavender brioche’ description that almost swayed me, but I decided to stay sensible and opt for the main course only.
Served by the delightfully jaunty chef Tony, we crammed our plates as high as we could, within the bounds of decency, I hope. I was especially happy to see lamb as a choice. It’s my absolute favourite, but all too rare as a carvery option.
I opted for pork too, but if I’m honest I’m a bit neutral about it – I just wanted the crackling. Hands up who feels the same?! As Tony said, “I could sell that crackling ten times over!”
The portions were generous and the Yorkshire puddings almost needed their own plate. I’ve enjoyed many carvery meals over the years, and this one didn’t disappoint. By the murmurs of approval from the other three members of my party, they all found theirs just as tasty. Kathryn commented that these were the best roast potatoes she’d ever tasted “Crispy on the outside and fluffy inside with a really buttery taste”. Chef Tony let us in on his secret – they’re roasted in dripping.
At £14.95 for one course, it costs a little more than some of the other restaurants nearby, however, we all agreed that it was worth it.
And if you want a drop of fine wine to accompany your meal there’s a good global wine selection to choose from.
The Inglenook Grounds
Despite the overcast day, I took a stroll around the garden afterwards. It’s one of loveliest of its kind I’ve seen in a while, with a well-designed layout incorporating several distinct zones.
There’s a patioed seating area, a separate bar at one end, several pretty statues and a decorative well, and on the far right a covered section with space for kids to play and run around.
The focal point, though, is the sweet little stone-walled pond in the middle, decorated with water lilies. It’s a very relaxing spot, and I think I must have stood gazing at it for several minutes without realising it.
Even on this unsettled day, ambling around the grounds for a while was relaxing, and a good way to follow a filling meal. You can imagine the situation on a glorious sunny day – a cluster of families and friends gathered outside, glasses clinking amid the hubbub of chatter and laughter – it’s an archetypal English summer social scene.
A Brief Visit or a Leisurely Stay?
The Inglenook Hotel and Restaurant overflows with traditional features, inside and out. For a classic weekend roast dinner in a historic and welcoming setting, it’s an ideal choice.
If you wanted to stay and explore the surrounding area, the hotel accommodation consists of 18 individually furnished rooms with en-suite facilities and wi-fi. There’s even one room with a classic 4-poster bed! Group events are well catered for here, which I can safely say would make for a more unique and memorable environment than many a featureless standard hotel.
Looking for accommodation in and around Chichester? Check latest rates and availability here
We hadn’t originally planned to eat out and were lucky to get our reservation – places like the Inglenook get booked up very quickly, especially during holiday periods. Having now had the pleasure of dining here, with its beautiful interior, friendly staff and delightful setting, I can’t say I’m surprised.
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Sara writes about travel and astrotourism at Travel Continuum.