Autumnal delights at Jeremy’s

Jeremy and Vera Ashpool.
Jeremy and Vera Ashpool.

AUTUMN may be the sandwich between the mild chilli of summer and the chill of winter but on the restaurant table at Jeremy’s Restaurant it has its compensations.

It is the game season, with the re-assuring warmth of those rich, comforting meat dishes, washed down with deep, dark red wines or whatever else you fancy.

It is a welcome reminder from Jeremy’s inspired kitchen at its beautifully-sited restaurant at Borde Hill that in the lead up to Christmas there is still much to celebrate in the autumn cuisine.

Naturally venison, incidentally a huge favourite of cholesterol-watchers because of its lean qualities, partridge and pheasant will take pride of place as well as seasonal vegetarian options.

Jeremy’s being Jeremy’s, a modern twist is applied to dishes, while keeping flavours clean and clear for the palate.

Putting aside the exciting prospect of dinner from the restaurant’s seasonal a la carte or Menu of the Day, we decided for a change on a grey Autumn day to try the Sunday lunch, having received a strong recommendation from someone who had been immensely impressed by it.

Six appeal is the key to the splendid range of the lunch menu, a choice of half a dozen each of starters, mains, and puddings.

The selection of starters when we called was so teasing that I’d barely made my dithering mind up when I gave my order.

I was soon able to congratulate myself smugly on the choice of lightly beer-battered and moist plaice, with the celeriac added a tangy backdrop. A marsala and thyme sauce worked much the same magic with my wife’s succulent chicken dish.

Glancing briefly around during courses in the convivial hubub of a full and chatty dining room (I love them) we noticed a good number of families, including many beautifully mannered children. It seems a lot of people realise that for special food Jeremy’s represents value for money. In these straitened times, if you are lucky enough to be able to afford it I honestly think £25 for two courses and £29.50 for three is worth it for such high quality of food and service.

For those with big appetites, don’t imagine Jeremy’s mix of modern and traditional won’t be filling- after a three course lunch we did not eat anything else until breakfast next day.

A lot of people who don’t dine out regularly find good restaurants intimidating- Jeremy Ashpool has the knack of training his staff to be professional but relaxed with diners, including his likeable son Daniel. They are there to be asked.

I like Jeremy’s choice of reasonably-priced house wines- their Sangiovese 2009 from Chile had good fruit but was light enough to match superbly my wife’s roast lamb in a rosemary jus and my ribeye beef in a red wine jus.

The absolutely delightful Italian Planeta Passito Di Noto pudding wine from the muscat grape, with just a hint of acidity to add backbone to its sweetness, was an unbeatable partner for my wife’s walnut and chocolate tart with peanut butter ice cream and also for my irresistible sticky toffee pudding. If you want to splash on expensive wines, there are some class acts on the list and staff will enjoy advising you.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to eat out and want something a cut above the average either for dinner or lunch I believe Jeremy’s remains excellent value in this class of restaurant.

Jeremy’s Pre-Christmas menu will also be available from 1 December for lunch or dinner

Phil Dennett