Jeremy’s Restaurant a hidden gem
Jeremy’s Restaurant, set within the idyllic grounds of Borde Hill on the edge of Haywards Heath, may be hidden away from the bustling crowds but this is a celebrated establishment whose fame and exceptional reputation puts it in the spotlight.
Boasting a cabinet teaming with national awards and accolades including ‘The Good Food Guide Regional Readers’ Restaurant of the Year 2013’ and The Sussex Food and Drink Awards 2013/14 ‘Best Eating Experience’, this 2 AA Rosette restaurant offers the perfect recipe of creative, modern menus, teamed with traditional, smart, friendly service and all within a breathtaking countryside setting. The interior of the restaurant itself is light, airy, welcoming and sits beside an elegant outside terrace overlooking the restaurants Victorian walled garden.
So who is Jeremy and what makes the food at his restaurant so very exceptional? Jeremy Ashpool has been a chef for nearby 40 years, inspired originally by his mothers excellent cooking. Starting out as a self professed and trained ‘beach-bum, DJ and bar manager’, he found a creative outlet through cooking and has never looked back since. Now a seasoned restauranteur and chef, Jeremy prides himself on using ingredients of the highest quality, with produce sourced as locally possible – herbs, edible flowers, lavender and wild garlic are grown and picked in the garden. Regular forays to the gastronomic regions of Spain and France result in exciting ideas and flavours being added to menus and the independent wineries being included in the wine list.
Jeremy, his wife Vera who runs the adjacent Café Elvira, and their team have a genuine affection for their customers, many of whom have followed their culinary journey in Sussex during the last thirty years and have come to love the couple’s warm and welcoming atmosphere.
The success of this restaurant lies not only in the passion Jeremy and Vera put in to their creation, but in the way they embrace young talent, pioneering practises and have one foot in the traditional past and the other firmly planted in the future of gastronomy. One such example of this is the recruiting of current Head Chef Jimmy Gray. Although rightfully still present in the kitchen himself, Jeremy added Jimmy to the team in order to bring some fresh ideas to the table and further the contemporary approach to food at Jeremy’s. By doing this, Jeremy ensures he offers the perfect melting pot of classic seasonal cooking with innovation and progressive cuisine.
At the fresh-faced age of just 26, Jimmy is indeed young, don’t let that fool you. He is an exceptional talent and someone who clearly loves, lives and breathes the restaurant industry. Having worked for his parent’s restaurant business in Chichester, he trained at Westminster College before being snapped up by Jeremy and has since received the title of ‘Sussex Young Chef of the Year 2013’.
Menus change regularly and include not only a seasonal á la carte menu, but also a daily menu and a special six-course tasting menu, available on the first Tuesday in every month. It costs £45 per person for the menu alone and £75 per person for the menu with wine flight. Regular events include monthly Friday night jazz, wine dinners and BBQs in the garden.
I have always been intrigued about ‘Jeremy’s Restaurant’ and so I was only too happy to accept the invitation to review this Sussex institution with 18 years of fame under it’s belt. Arriving with such high expectations is often a little risky, but Jeremy’s successfully exceeded them all.
Firstly, I have to applaud the service. Traditional, attentive service is far too rare these days and I was thrilled to be at the receiving end of it as soon as I stepped through the entrance. Jeremy’s is clearly a place to go on a special occasion and so sticking to the brief, I had dressed up with excitement. All too often that effort is unrewarded by supposedly ‘modern’ nonplussed service. On this occasion the team couldn’t have done more to ensure my every need was met.
I’m currently expecting my second child so the wine list is often just an excruciating temptress. My husband ordered a glass of organic 2015 Graciano, Montañar, La Mancha and to my delight, the waiter offered to put together a ‘strawberry and mint based virgin cocktail,’ ensuring I didn’t feel left out. The wine list is extensive and varied in terms of range and price and offers a rare host of options for wine by the glass and carafe.
My husband and I opted for the á la carte menu on this occasion, selecting the ‘Salmon tikka, dahl, mango and fritter’ and the ‘Portland crab, langoustine, fennel and basil’ for starters. My salmon dish was a triumph, with the fish soft , comforting and delicately infused with Asian spices. The Portland crab was as meaty as you would hope for, naturally sweet, balanced well with the fennel and lifted with the basil. The portion sizes were ideal as to satisfy the diner (as these dishes are incredibly more-ish), but to ensure there is adequate room for the course to follow.
For mains, my husband opted for the ‘Longhorn Beef, braised brisket, smoked pomme Anna, Pied de Mouton, squash, tenderstem and horseradish’. This dish is as hearty as it promises to be, yet elegantly constructed and presented with finesse. Served rare to medium, the beef fell apart at the mere tap of a knife and the pomme Anna sung with smoked earthiness. The tenderstem added unobtrusive freshness and the horseradish proudly crowned this dish with a kick.
I chose the ‘Wild Seabass, squid, black radish, creamed potato, burnt apple and beetroot’, an interesting medley but one that I now know belongs together. The seabass held all the flavours of the sea, the squid added texture, the creamed potato was the smoothest mash I have ever tasted and the apple and beetroot worked in tandem to enhance and exaggerate the flavours of the seafood.
The dessert list, although incredibly tempting and offering dishes that epitomise that target blend of classic meets contemporary (e.g. Grapefruit mousse, labna, pomegranate, granola), we were nicely full and opted for a coffee instead. Fortunately, to satisfy my sweet tooth, these came complete with an exquisite selection of petite fours which also served to keep me quiet on the not-so-long journey back to Brighton.
With such picturesque settings and attentive service, it occurred to me how very ideal Jeremy’s Restaurant is for weddings, parties and even corporate events. The restaurant is operated by a team you know you can trust with your big day and the combination of the facilities, menu choices and vast experience makes this a very special venue option. The restaurant can seat 55 for a sit-down event, up to 70 for a reception. For larger events of over 100 people, we have the option of a marquee which is in use during the autumn and winter months. You can also book the restaurant on an exclusive basis.
For more information please visit www.jeremysrestaurant.co.uk or call 01444 441102 to make a reservation.