Wingrove House Review
The drive from Brighton to Alfriston is an ideal start to an evening at Wingrove House. Leaving the city behind, you lose the A27 and wind your way down East Sussex lanes into this picturesque village in the district of Wealden.
Country with a contemporary feel.
The gratifyingly crunchy sound of tyres on gravel drive ends your journey as you pull in to the grounds of this 19th Century Colonial Style country house. Had it been summer we would have sat on the spacious and ornate terrace but, the trees had begun to be dappled with the orange and tan of Autumn, and we enjoyed the stylish and cosy atmosphere of the restaurant. Modern artwork, big ceramic pots and wonderful Victorian fish illustrations give the eye plenty to enjoy.
Locally sourced gin and tonics
To kick the evening off we were presented with a brilliantly extensive gin menu. We chose a Seven Sister’s from the local Rathfine Estate and a French gin infused with Saffron. Both were paired with Folkington’s tonic – another locally sourced product made just 4 miles down the road – and were presented beautifully in fishbowl-sized glasses with plenty of ice and lime.
I was the nominated driver so could only have a sip, instead saving myself for a glass of red to go with my main from the tantalizing looking wine menu.
On to the food and the menu reflects head chef Matthew Comben’s love of seasonal ingredients and joy in giving a fresh twist to some restaurant classics.
Simple Soup and Punchy Terrine
I’m a big fan of Halloumi and to couple it with peach and rocket would have pleased me no end but I wanted to see what something as simple as celeriac soup would be like. I had no regrets. With truffle croutons it packed a flavoursome punch and was thick, creamy and earthy.
Jo loves seafood and could easily have gone for the smoked salmon or the Provencal squid stew but instead plumped for the Pork and pistachio terrine.Pork shoulder and streaky bacon, thyme, brandy, mace, pistachios and juniper berries. The balance between the meatiness and the herbs and fruit is perfect. Its accompanying chutney has a good tang and whiff of port.
Venison with a fruity gin sauce?! Oh go on then….
For the main course, I chose the roast haunch of venison. Despite the perfect range of equally great sounding dishes on offer, it would have been very difficult not to. Venison, mini pie (!), dauphinois potatoes, spiced poached pear, parsnip puree and blackberry and sloe gin sauce. Was this going to be taste overload or a fine balance of flavours? Unsurprisingly, given Matthew’s pedigree as a chef, it was the latter.
The plate of food was perfectly presented and the flavours complimented each other well – meaty and fruity with the pastry of the pie pleasingly flaky.
The meat inside was succulent and the dauphinois satisfyingly creamy but not too rich. The puree not too sweet and the sauce offered the right amount of sharpness to round the whole dish off.
Knowing your Gnudi from your Gnocchi
Jo chose the fillet of Hake with a chorizo crust, rocket gnudi with sun blush tomato and red pepper sauce. Never heard of gnudi? We hadn’t either! After some enquiry we learned that they are gnocchi-like dumplings made with ricottacheese. Lighter than gnocchi, they were just right to match with the hake which was light and flaky and cooked to perfection – not at all dry or heavy. As with my venison, the sauce was tangy and fruity and not overpowering.
Extensive and varied wine list
The wine list at Wingrove House is diverse and impressive with wines as from as far as Thailand and as near as Sussex. Our waitress was very knowledgeable and helped us choose the right one to go with our meals. I had an Argentine Malbec and Jo enjoyed a light Pinot Noir. They were both excellent.
I was full and satisfied after my 2 courses, but for review purposes I was forced to have dessert! With a choice of Sticky Toffee Pudding, Spiced Autumn Pavlova, Chocolate and Hazelnut Cheesecake, Plum and Almond tart or Sussex Ice creams and sorbets this was a tough choice. I went for the cheesecake with banana icecream and a salted caramel sauce. It was soft, creamy, nutty and sweet…but not too sweet! Jo’s choice was the Sticky Toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and clotted cream. It was a surprisingly fruity little number. Set off with raspberries, strawberries and mint it was gooey and, well, sticky. Perfect.
We left Alfriston with a good feeling. The atmosphere, setting and range of great food and drink leaves your belly full, your shoulders a little lower and the sense that you’ve had a special evening out.