A sunny terrace, historic hotel and the ultimate comfort food. Just a few things on offer from the restaurant at The Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa in Midhurst. I first visited this hotel 10 years ago and the strangest part is that none of it seemed familiar when I arrived, until we started walking through the historic hallways and up the creaky stairs. Then it all started coming back to me and I realised we never actually dined here. There’s beautiful lounge bar and conservatory too which is perfect for afternoon tea, light lunch or a few too many glass of wine. Plus a lovely outdoor terrace.
Eating inside that evening we first enjoyed a glass of Champagne on the outdoor terrace before heading indoors to the restaurant. A huge fireplace at one end of the room where staff enter from the kitchen at either side and a classic, white linen tablecloth setting. I absolutely love dining in rooms with history and it was offered here to the max.
A bottle of local wine from the nearby vineyards of Sussex and we tucked into our starters. Looked after by head chef Richard Cave-Toyé, I love how he’s produced a menu which actually blends in with the hotel. This may be an upscale historic hotel, but a Michelin starred restaurant or avant-garde cooking just wouldn’t feel at home here and instead its ultimate comfort food. Generous portions of all of your favourite things, sourced locally and changing with the seasons. A plate of fresh salmon gravalax was a wonderful way to kick off our warm summer evening, but the star for me was the twice-baked Sussex Cheddar soufflé. A huge plate full of full-flavoured cheese, double cream and chopped spring onions. Not very summery perhaps, but I loved every single bite of it.
And no heart-warming meal is ever complete without steak. You might think it can get repetitive, but every chef uses a different farm or cut and each have their own way of cooking it. Here the restaurant uses Donald Russell, the same I order at home – except I can’t perfect it anything like the kitchen did here. An 8oz Scottish sirloin steak served medium rare and packed onto a full plate of outstanding triple cooked chips, grilled tomatoes in a herb butter, rocket salad and some rather epic onion rings. We probably didn’t need a side but I couldn’t resist the creamed leeks with parmesan.
Rather full by this point, we ordered a last glass of Champagne and took our dessert out onto the terrace while watching the sunset. A puff pastry mille feuille with smears of rich chocolate in-between left us ready for bed and our sweet tooth satisfied. I loved my meal at the The Spread Eagle Hotel and really felt like the chefs understood exactly what people staying here would want to be eating. It’s a restaurant for conversations and family meals and one which I’d love to return too.
NB: My meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.