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. AL

Jolly Sportsman: ‘a belter.’ And the food’s nice

Jolly Sportsman, East Chiltington
When? Tuesday to Saturday, closed Sunday eve, Monday
How Much? £12.95 for two courses

Jolly Sportsman
(w) Website
(t) 01273 890400