Al Fresco - The Long Room

The Long Room has been going for three years now and to celebrate their birthday they have put out a menu of the most popular dishes they have sold in that time. Unfortunately, if you want to dine al fresco that menu is limited, but as we arrive the sun has just poked its head through the grey cloud which has been our staple sky diet recently, so we head for the wooden tables underneath the arbour at the back of the establishment. We sit next to the children’s playing area, mercifully uninhabited. The view’s not great – the car-park outside the Phoenix Centre – but they’ve done their best to disguise it with bamboo, and are clearly waiting for their vine to invade the arbour to turn it into a secluded and leafy little spot.

We share a bottle of house red (£9.95), and I go for a salmon fishcake starter (£5.95). Caroline tries the steak sandwich (£8.95). When mine arrives it is small and perfectly formed, with a little prawn on the top, a pile of grated carrot on the side, and plenty of room for manoeuvre on the white plate. The carrot is refreshing; the fishcakes, though a little grey looking inside, give you a nice hit of coriander to offset that overpowering salmon sensation. The prawn gives it a nice crunch, too. The steak sandwich is declared a big hit: the rocket’s fresh, the meat’s cooked right and the sourdough bread’s a pleasure to eat. Over our coffees, surveying the surroundings, we discuss the growth rate of vines, and the relative merits of sophisticated dainties and wholesome home cooking. AG

Pretty in pink: but you can’t have your fish cake and eat it
18 Cliffe High St, Lewes
9am – 10pm (limited menu 3-6pm)
How Much? Starters from £4.75
The Long Room
(t) 01273 472444