A Crisp, Clear Night for Open Mic
On one of those crisp, clear nights, when everything looks sharp, we headed off to Open Mic Night at The Lewes Road Inn. A historic pub, on a prominent corner, we were delighted to see that the place was all trussed up ready for the festivities, strings of fairy lights casting a magical, multicoloured glow throughout the whole place.
Sidling up to the evidently well-stocked bar, we attracted the attention of Manager Connor, whose wide smile and genuine hospitality immediately put us at ease. Since we had arrived reasonably early, Connor suggested we try our hands at a Sussex super game ‘Toad In The Hole’. A true enthusiast, Connor is the captain of the pub team and made it look pretty easy. If you haven’t played before, the idea is to throw a thick brass coin (the toad) into a hole. Simple enough. My man and I, he with a cold pint of pale ale in hand, and me with a warming glass of red, thoroughly enjoyed this new diversion. It got a bit competitive so it was probably good that we were distracted by the menu.
An Eclectic Menu
A long day of work behind us, and the chill winter weather, meant we were ready for the hearty pub dishes on offer at The Lewes Road Inn. The chefs have aimed to cover a lot of bases with multiple street food categories on offer. They are known for their great pizzas but there is a great selection of burgers, tasty small plates with international flavours plus burritos, tacos and big plates of finger-licking wings. There’s also a loaded section – with fries, nachos and mac-n-cheese piled with tasty toppings plus a specials menu with some cosy pub classics.
To start, we ordered crispy calamari from the specials menu and small plates Pork Burnt Ends and Cajun Halloumi Fries. The food arrived in bright, plastic baskets giving us plenty of fun holiday vibes. The calamari was hot from the kitchen with a pleasing crunch and was served with a pot of cool, herb-flecked aioli. Burnt Ends, sticky with BBQ sauce, are a particular favourite for my date. These were adorned with fresh chilli and herbs and served with a bright rainbow slaw. He polished them off in seconds while I turned my attention to the thick halloumi fries. Dusted with Cajun spice, crunchy on the outside and squeaky, soft in the middle, this was all good tasty fun.
Charm and Talent
After a break and a second, cheeky weeknight tipple, the Open Mic Night kicked off. This was a special fundraiser in aid of The Sussex University Dance Society but there is Open Mic at The Lewes Road Inn every week, run by a local events producer in collaboration with the pub. You never know what to expect with these things but we were delighted by the first act; a young singer-songwriter of considerable charm and talent. Following on was a real variety of fabulous acts. The pub crowd was comfortably divided by those who were there primarily for the music and those for whom it was an added extra.
Our mains arrived while we were enjoying the music. I chose a Redefined (vegan) Pulled Pork wrap and my date opted for a Barbacoa Burger which was loaded with beef barbacoa (a slow-cooked Caribbean stew) with lime crema and pickled slaw and served with a generous portion of fries. Both offered full-flavoured, multi-texture experiences that were hard to resist.
Rounding Off with Brownies and Ice-Cream
After enjoying a few more of the Open Mic acts, we found space for a regret-free dish of chocolate brownie with ice-cream – two spoons – a rib-sticking treat to round off the night.
The crowd was eclectic, the food was eclectic and the acts were eclectic. The service, on the other hand, was just lovely. They boast a great events schedule, can host your kids party and will do everything they can to make you feel welcome. The Lewes Road Inn is a lovely community pub with much to offer to music fans, locals, families and students alike. Charmed I’m sure.