The Sussex Ox review – Perfect escape from the city
Winter feasting at The Sussex Ox
A country pub with its own organic farm, The Sussex Ox is unique. The beef comes from their own herd of cattle, the lamb is from their flock of sheep, and the pork on the menu is raised nearby. Veggies can also get involved – one of the few commercial organic potato growers in East Sussex, you can tuck into homemade potato gnocchi, fresh eggs and other meat-free produce.
‘The Ox’, as locals call it, is tucked in the South Downs, within walking distance of Alfriston and ‘The Long Man’. For pre- or post-dinner walks, just ask behind the bar for the best circular routes.
Visiting with my partner Tommy on a Friday night, it was too dark for a ramble but perfect for a cosy night by the fire.
We were seated in the Old Bar area – a beamed snug with panelled walls and paintings of rural life.
The Ox’s seasonal menu changes monthly – this also includes their cocktail list. For our autumn/winter visit, this meant the likes of ‘Twinkle’ (vodka, elderflower and cava) and ‘Autumn Ox Tail’ (gin, cider, honey and cinnamon). Bang on trend, they also serve mocktails with zero-proof spirits.
I tried ‘Ginger Spice’ with Seedlip Spice. Refreshing and warming, with botanical undertones, it’s a great option if you’re giving alcohol a swerve.
The wine list features several natural, organic and bio-dynamic options – look for the ‘N’, ‘O’ and ‘B’ symbols. Beers, ciders and gins focus on local suppliers – think Seven Sisters gin from Alfriston (one mile away) and Long Man bitter from Litlington (two miles away). Tommy went for a pint of his favourite: Arise pale ale from Burning Sky brewery in Firle.
Tommy started with the smoked haddock, leek and potato soup with truffle oil and a duck egg from the farm. Thick, creamy and comforting, it included a whole piece of haddock and a perfectly poached golden egg. I went for the smoked salmon with lemon oil and homemade soda bread. My salmon was rich and velvety smooth, and my soda bread was delicately sliced and lightly toasted. Topped with peppery micro-leaves, it was an excellent start.
Farm fresh mains
For my main, I chose the rump steak – surely the best way to sample the farm’s beef. Thick and juicy, it was served with honey-roast veg, spinach, a thyme-infused jus and the farm’s potatoes, cooked ‘parmentier’ style (roasted cubes). I particularly enjoyed the tiny roasted onions on my plate – a lovely, almost caramelised surprise. To drink, I sipped a glass of full-bodied organic red, Les Trois Fontaine.
Tommy also went for the farm’s beef, ordering the steak and mushroom pie. Well-filled with tender steak and meaty mushrooms, it came with thick onion gravy and scallion mashed potato (with spring onions).
For pudding, I ordered a British classic – treacle tart, served warm, with a big blob of clotted cream. My shortcrust pastry was beautifully crisp and the filling was sweet and syrupy in all the right places.
Tommy opted for chocolate marquise. Rich and decadent, two generous slabs of marquise arrived with a zingy orange gel and a smooth, Christmas pudding ice-cream. Chocoholics – this one’s for you.
Local, sustainable and satisfying
Saying a fond farewell to the bar staff, we left the warm belly of The Ox feeling satisfied and rather virtuous…
…From the wine and beer to the beef and spuds, much of our meal had been local, organic or both.
Next time we’ll bring the dog for a Sunday stroll – with beef that good, I’ve got a strong feeling that the roasts are great.