By Brighton Food Reviewer, Emma, December 2016

Travel back in time

I’ve got a confession – I’m a picky pub patron. There are many pubs that I feel just don’t cut the mustard but get it right and I’ll be loyal for life. Lucky for me I can probably count on two hands my favourite pubs in and around Brighton, most of them tucked away in the Sussex countryside.

One of these is the Shepherd and Dog. I’ve been a fan ever since I took a wrong turn on the way to Devils Dyke and happened upon this 18th Century public house with a huge garden and plenty of character.

The Shepherd and Dog, Fulking, Country Pub, Sussex countryside, South Downs pub

Although charming in the summer, with plenty of beer and gin events being held, I prefer to head to Fulking in the winter when I know the fire will be roaring and I can tuck myself into the cosy seating with a glass of red.

Restoring English Heritage to the menu

David and his wife took over the pub around two and a half years ago and have been working hard ever since to provide a taste of England’s fine food heritage, sourcing as many local ingredients as possible. Local game, lamb from the South Downs and fish landed in Newhaven – there’s a real emphasis here on keeping things close to home.

Shepherd and Dog Pub, Fulking, Sussex

Everything you’ll eat is homemade – aside from the bread which is delivered daily from the Real Patisserie and served lightly toasted with plenty of butter before your meal.

David and the team have played around with the menu since taking over the kitchen, and seem to have found a good balance between lunch and dinner menus – the former featuring classic pub dishes such as pie and fish and chips which goes down well with the many ramblers who pass though. The dinner menu switches to a more sophisticated selection simply titled after their feature ingredients e.g. ‘The Fish’ and ‘The Lamb’. There’s one dedicated vegetarian option on the main courses but a note to mention extra dishes are available upon request.

Ye Old English focus

We dive straight into the starters, with Tom choosing ‘The Rabbit’, an unusual Asian twist on a traditional British country, with tender pieces of rabbit (sourced from Steyning) and shiitake mushrooms in a spring roll with heritage carrot and a spring onion and ginger glaze. We both really enjoyed this – it was a light starter with plenty of flavour.

Asian Spring Roll at Shepherd and Dog Fulking

I went for ‘The Quail’ which included a soft boiled quails egg, pork rillettes, piccalilli and and caper berries on a cauliflower puree. Sumptuously decadent, I doubt the rillettes were good for my waistline but certainly hit the spot flavour wise! The quail egg had retained it’s runny yolk (no mean feat!) and the crunch and tang of the home made piccalilli cut through the rich flavours of the dish. A real highlight of the meal!

Winter Starter at the Shepherd and Dog, Fulking

Ensure plenty of holes on your belt!

For our mains we went for ‘The Game’ and the ‘The Swine’. The Game consisted of French trimmed guinea fowl leg, pan fried duck breast, butternut squash puree, pearl barley, pear kale and chanterelle mushrooms. Bang on season, each element was cooked really well, with the duck skin crisp and the meat slightly pink and juicy. The red wine jus was slightly overpowering as it has soaked into the pearl barley but if you like your dinner rich and wintery – this is the choice for you!

The Game main course at the Shepherd and Dog, Fulking

The Swine was an absolute winner in my eyes, Surrey pork tenderloin, grilled slow-cooked pork belly, smoked pulled pork ball, potato fondant and braised savoy cabbage with bacon. Pork four ways – what a treat! Again the jus was incredibly rich but just the right amount although I confess I couldn’t quite manage the whole dish.

The Swine main at The Shepherd and Dog Fulking

After a short break we were just about ready for a pudding to share, and once Banoffee pie was mentioned the deal was done! Slightly deconstructed with a quenelle of whipped vanilla cream, it was rich, decadent and delicious – and perfect between two!

Banoffee Pie at Shepherd and Dog

The Shepherd and Dog may be over two hundred years old but is managing to evolve with modern times, retaining it’s reputation for great food and also offering fantastic events such as Halloween nights, gin festivals and wedding receptions. The passion from the Chefs to source local is clear to see and a welcome change from chain-run establishments with generic menus.

I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll be back.

My top reasons to visit The Shepherd and Dog

  • Scenic location
  • Seasonal dishes sourced locally
  • Great range of wine, gins and ale
  • Friendly service
  • Dog friendly