Chichester Harbour Hotel – The Ship
Good value set menus and a Burns Night event coming up make this a great place to beat the January blues
We all need something to look forward to at this time of year and a meal at Chichester Harbour Hotel’s The Ship restaurant, just relaunched with a new chef at the helm, hits just the right note, being a great value treat, with Sunday three-course set menus under £20.
I got a taste of some of the new dishes when I visited just before Christmas for lunch with a friend. It was a really handy spot to meet as we combined it with some shopping – it’s just steps away from the shops and key cultural attractions.
This is a heritage building – grade II-listed Georgian with Regency features – but the interiors are fresh and contemporary, with a blue and yellow colour scheme and modern art on the walls that is used sparingly enough to sit well with the original features. The restaurant chairs are all padded and there are plenty of banquettes (always a big plus point in my book).
The smart bar greets you as you come in and you can perch here if you’re just having a drink. There’s also a casual armchair seating area alongside that my friend has earmarked for future working on her laptop over a coffee or cocktail.
Scoff & Quoff
I kicked things off with a very good seasonal fig and amaretto cocktail while I waited for my friend who was having a sat nav disaster (having hit the car instead of walking button on the app while in the pedestrianised zone!)
When she arrived I went full on comfort food with my starter, opting for a melt-in-the-mouth twice baked creamy cheese souffle – proving a favourite with diners I’m told. You can also opt to have it with smoked haddock.
My friend had an excellent caramelised Jerusalem artichoke soup with burnt pear and walnut which came in a showy slate bowl.
As it was a Sunday there was a choice of roast (including a vegetarian nut roast) and, this being near Christmas, my friend went for turkey.
After my cheese-tastic starter I went light for the main with sea bass with very fresh and zingy tasting apple, cucumber, kohlabri, caviar and creme fraiche sauce. (My friend also gave me one of her roast potatoes). There was also traditional fish and chips on the menu.
The weekday menus too tend towards crowd-pleasing favourites with a modern twist and some good comfort food choices for the winter months. There’s also afternoon tea served noon till 16.00 on weekdays and 14.00 till 16.00 on weekends.
We didn’t have room for dessert (shocking, I know!) and just had tea and coffee instead but here’s a look at the kind of thing that can tempt you…
The choices on my visit included sticky toffee pudding, coconut and vanilla panna cotta with winter berries and orange and anise creme brulee.
The service was friendly and efficient and a couple near us (clearly regulars) told their waiter he needn’t ask how everything was as it was always spot on!
The Ship restaurant will celebrate Burns Night on 25 Jan with a Scottish-themed menu from Chef Patron Alex Aitken for £27.50 including a welcome martini with whisky popcorn, three courses and piper entertainment.
Coq Au Leekie soup or smoked salmon or carrot and avocado cannelloni are the starter choices, then there’ll be a lamb and haggis or mushroom wellington, followed by Scottish shortbread with whisky and honey ice-cream and raspberries.
For £45.00 you can upgrade to include a flight of three whiskies matched to the courses, or wine pairing if preferred.
The hotel has a cute subterranean HarSPA, accessed just beside the restaurant, which is a cosy spot for holing up in these winter months over treatments and a soak in the whirlpool.
Up a sweeping staircase are 36 bedrooms, perfect for a weekend break, with luxury touches like Egyptian cotton sheets and The White Company toiletries. There’s also a romantic private cottage.
In the area
Well, there are the shops of course, you’re also within near walking distance of Pallant House Gallery, which we visited afterwards and the cathedral (pop in to see the ‘Arundel Tomb’ of the Philip Larkin poem with the couple holding hands in stone on the top). The hotel also makes a good place to eat or stay when you’re seeing a show at Chichester Festival Theatre.
If you’re staying over, Chichester Harbour, Fishbourne Roman Palace, Arundel and the Witterings beaches are within striking distance.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good For: Smart, great value lunching with friends. Combining with shopping, a show or a spa. Fine with well-behaved children.
Not so good for: There’s a contemporary look in the restaurant so it’s not the spot if you’re hankering after traditional formality or a rustic vibe.
££ For the Sunday lunch, one course is £12, two courses are £15, three courses £19.95. On weekdays, for lunch and pre theatre, it’s two for £17.50, three for £22.50. The evening set menu is £22.50 for two courses, £27.50 for three.
Chichester Harbour Hotel, North Street, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1NH, 01243 778 000, harbourhotels.co.uk/chichester