Food - The Jolly Sportsman
I’ve heard so many good things about the Jolly Sportsman
in East Chiltington recently. People absolutely rave about
the place. Lovely setting, and even better food, they say.
Locally sourced traditional English fare done classily and
unpretentiously, they say. Not too expensive for what you
get, they say. A delight, a great place, a godsend, a belter.
So of course I expect to be disappointed. We arrive just before
one and get ushered to a table on the side of the terrace.
It’s a nice table, a Moroccan-looking tiled affair placed
next to a bank of lavender. They do a set menu: two courses
for £12.95 or three for £15.95. I go for the first
one, and choose a cold beetroot soup followed by calf’s
liver. The waitress brings it. Her manner is unhurried and
charming. The beetroot soup is just right for the weather.
Best cold beetroot soup I’ve ever had. It tastes slightly
like a Bloody Mary, and there’s a dollop of chivey crème
fraiche in the middle. The calves’ liver is very tender,
and cooked just right. The mashed potato comes topped with
three baby turnips. The best word to describe them is succulent.
The gravy is delicious. Disappointed? Here we have a gastro
pub which doesn’t try to impress you with funny squiggles
of sauce on big white plates. Here we have a restaurant which
likes doing good food well, without pretending it’s
‘continental’. Here we have a great place to eat.
The only downside was paying nearly £20 for a bottle
of house wine, but hell, you can’t have everything.