This country pub, owned by Tom Sellers, combines rustic flavours with pure ingredients. Katherine Alano pays a visit
Nestled in heart of the West Sussex countryside is Lickfold Inn, the new venture from Michelin-starred chef Tom Sellers of Restaurant Story in London.
The inn, near the town of Petworth, has been a public house for more than a century, and sits on a plot that has been mentioned in literature dating back to 1314. At one time the pub was owned by BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans, but has been closed since 2010. Sellers teamed up with a private investor to take over the pub and reopened it in December 2014.
"I grew up in pubs, and it is something that appealed to me when I saw the opportunity come across my desk. The pub is freehold and it's a stunning building in a stunning location," says Sellers.
"Everything just felt right, and having Graham Squire on board as head chef was a big swing for me, because I thought he was a great fit for the job." Sellers previously worked with Squire at Adam Byatt's Trinity restaurant in London's Clapham.
Sellers has sensitively restored this Grade II-listed building, keeping the exposed wooden beams, the brickwork and the open fireplaces, and adding furniture that blends seamlessly with the decor.
The pub is open Tuesday to Sunday, offering lunch and dinner. It is split over two floors: the bar area downstairs offers an extensive menu, including homemade snacks, such as Lickfold chorizo, Scotch eggs, devilled kidneys and salt cod risotto balls, priced from £1.50. It also serves a selection of local and craft beers, as well as an array of wines and cocktails. In the main dining area on the first floor, which has a more formal feel, a lunch and dinner menu is served, priced at around £8 for starters, from £19 for main courses and from £7 for desserts.
Sellers' philosophy for the food is simple: "Here at Lickfold people have to be able to identify with what they are eating, I didn't want
to push things too far, but at the same time I didn't want to lose what I am about. We want the food to speak for itself and it needs to be food that people can relate to," he explains.
Diners' appetites are whetted with homemade bread and an amuse bouche of chicken-smoked whipped butter, followed by a choice of starters including deer ham, moss-salted beetroot and tarragon (£11) and a particular favourite of Squire's: salmon, cucumber, gin and seaweed (£12). This twist on the classic gravlax involves curing the salmon for 18 hours in gin botanicals, then barbecuing it skin-side down and serving it in thick slices.
It is accompanied by seaweed powder, cucumber, dill and rock samphire. Moving onto the mains, choices include cod, cabbage and buttermilk (£21), pork belly, burned pear and mead (£22) and a rich, melt-in-the-mouth ox cheek, served with locally foraged mushrooms and oyster (£25). Key to the menu is the expanding kitchen garden, used to grow herbs as well as some of the ingredients.
"We are looking at expanding the garden kitchen and using our own eggsin our Scotch eggs," says Squire.
The desserts are simply titled; one, called 'Honey and lemon' is comprised of warm lemon cake, lemon curd and pickled lemon, where the sharpness of the lemon is complemented by sweet bee pollen honey and refreshing crème fraÁ®che ice-cream. Other puddings include burned apple soufflé with brandy prune ice-cream (£7) and Yorkshire rhubarb custard tart (£8).
There are ambitions to build on the pub's reputation by serving great food and welcoming the local community and those from further afield: "Once summer is here, we want to offer a barbecue menu and eventually open up to weddings," says Squire.
From the menu
- Poached whiting, Cornish crab and spinach £8
- Smoked duck salad, watercress and Alexander £9
- Halibut, yeast, cauliflower and sloes £25
- Partridge, barley and stems £19
- Sirloin, BBQ gem, watercress and beef-fat chips £32
- Bitter chocolate, blood orange and lavender £8
- Selection of English cheeses £13
The Lickfold Inn, Highstead Lane,
Lickfold, Petworth, West Sussex GU28 9EY