Bit late with this one as D and I actually went on Easter Saturday (is that an actual thing?! Like the Friday and Sunday are?). We’d booked two nights at a b+b in the amusing sounding Herstmonceux, near Hailsham (and home to a magnificent castle) and when choosing options for a nice anniversary dinner on the Saturday night (three years, people!), the Lamb Inn, to me, looked like the nicest place; an old pub (dates from the 1500s) and a lovely looking menu. And their speciality was steak. Exciting.
A 15 minute taxi drive (by Martin, the local driver, who had a lovely line in chat), we pulled up in front of an impressive white fronted building with a thatched roof. Inside it was cosy but quite modern; the chatty staff said our table would be ready soon (to be fair, we were a bit early) and we sat by the bar with a drink. Then we headed through to a big room at the back; it’s quite a large space but most of the tables were full so it still had some atmosphere, though perhaps not as much as the other dining area on the other side of the bar. No matter; the menu looked good and the young and friendly staff were very attentive, especially considering how busy they were.
We couldn’t choose between the starters so we decided to share three in the end: pan fried sweet potato and sage gnocchi, deep fried beef ragu croquettes, and some ham hock pate, from the specials. All very very good indeed. The gnocchi were subtly flavoured but still chewy and with good bite, which I really enjoyed (D not so much; he loves a strong flavour). D much preferred the ragu croquettes; intense hits of tender beef, in a deep, red wine sauce. And the ham hock, spread on bread, was delicious; it tasted home made, which, having read a bit about the chef on the Lamb Inn’s website, made total sense. The kitchen uses local produce as much as possible, and it shows.
For mains, we both went for steak. The dilemma was that the fillet would be tender, but the rib eye would have more flavour. So we had one of each, of course. The fillet was a massive chunk of beef, still practically raw (as I asked for it), while D’s rib eye was flatter and, yes, more flavourful. Both were heavenly though, and came with new potatoes (me) and mash (D) with sides of Stilton butter, garlic butter and peppercorn sauce. Oh and there was some greenery involved too – a few seasonal vegetables and salad leaves were in there somewhere. But it was a bloody, teeth-ripping affair; we devoured them in about 10 minutes flat.
And still, we ordered on…dessert was a choice of ice creams/sorbets, and we went for the champagne and chocolate sorbets. Which made for a light and refreshing finale to the whole thing. I really, really liked this place; you can imagine it’s where locals have been coming for years, propping up the bar and enjoying lunches and dinners in the Shires. We even bumped into two old friends of mine who I’ve not seen for a long time, as one now lives in the area with her family. She’s lucky to have this on her doorstep (well nothing’s actually on your doorstep in the countryside though, is it? You basically have to have a car).
The rest of the weekend was spent exploring the area, including a trip to the very joyous Seven Sisters Sheep Farm. As the name suggests, it was full of sheep. And lambs. Very appropriate for spring, we thought. Though I’ve not actually eaten one since…