Aren’t Country Clubs just for members?
Wickwood’s Country Club and Glass House Restaurant (rosette awarded) is tucked away down a tree-lined road between Hove and Henfield. It’s an unassuming building from the outside and easy to drive past without really noticing. I’ve never ventured inside a Country Club before, so was unsure of what to expect.
To me, the phrase conjures up images of perfectly coiffed, slightly aloof clientele, milling around in Wimbledon whites, sipping Chablis! (Too many episodes of Desperate Housewives, methinks!)
I’m happy to say that Wickwood’s didn’t fit my stereotype.
The staff were friendly and welcoming; the atmosphere unpretentious and relaxed. Whilst there are areas exclusively accessible to members, the Glass House Restaurant is open to all. And it was here that hubby and I were dining.
What a beautiful setting
The aptly named Glass House Restaurant is light and airy, thanks to its peaked glass roof and bi-fold doors that run the length of the restaurant. As it was a warm summer’s evening we chose a table on the outdoor terrace, overlooking beautifully manicured gardens. The thwack of ball against racket could be heard from the tennis courts that were partially obscured by tall trees, and there was a happy hum of conversation from our fellow diners.
Let’s talk food
The menu, which changes seasonally, is bistro-esque with something for everyone. If you’re looking for a light, healthy meal there are salads which can be pimped with added extras. Classic mains include fish & chips, sausage & mash, steaks and burgers. For those hungry for something slightly different there’s seafood masala, a falafel & spinach burger or lamb rump with a delicious sounding pistachio & mint crumb. I chose to start with duck egg, asparagus and chorizo dressing.
The egg was perfectly runny, the asparagus al dente, and bite sized chorizo cubes added a spicy, fatty naughtiness.
I was hugely envious of hubby’s Oriental cured salmon: a sizeable chunk of sashimi grade fish skilfully flavoured, rather than over-powered, by soy and ginger. Both dishes were beautifully presented. An impressive start.
The main event
The main courses were equally attractive. My sage and onion arancini were served with grilled asparagus and roasted red peppers, dotted with a vibrant orange carrot puree. The colours of a Mediterranean summer! I am in awe of any chef who can rustle up a decent arancini ball – getting the right balance of textures – and these would have been given the thumbs up from a native Sicilian. Perfectly crisp, crumbed spheres filled with a subtly sage flavoured sticky rice.
Hubby’s expertly cooked, slightly pink, duck breast was accompanied with 50-pence-piece sized medallions of fondant potato, tenderstem broccoli and segments of cinnamon infused, poached pear, which made a refreshing change to the classic duck and orange combo.
In praise of puds
I hadn’t planned to indulge in a dessert but our super-attentive waiter raved about the puddings. He explained that he had the enviable task of sampling all the dishes on the recently launched summer menu, and the desserts should not be missed. Hubby has FOMO tendencies, so we couldn’t leave without following up on the waiter’s claims!
Our dark chocolate fondant didn’t disappoint.
Thick, dark, gooey chocolate oozed from the cakey exterior and mingled with the creaminess of the honeycomb ice-cream and sharpness of fresh raspberries. Our waiter was right to praise the puds!
Take your best friend, your mum, your partner, someone you want to impress. Brightonians, don’t be discouraged by the out-of-town location. The Glass House is well worth the drive, or taxi journey. Wickwood’s Country Club has six guest rooms, so why not stay over?