Coach & Horses, Danehill
Summer or winter, with or without kids, this pub is a great all-rounder, with big gardens and excellent food.
The Coach & Horses at Danehill (between Ardingly and Crowborough) is a handy find that works equally well for all seasons – or indeed the British summer! It has wonderful large gardens and yet is cosy inside.
The listed building has an unspoilt interior with an old-fashioned central bar, original wood panelling and a large barn-like annex.
It also multi-tasks when it comes to clientele. Off the large main garden is a hedged off play area with swings, slide and sandpit that will keep children happy (with a table and benches for relatives to sit and watch them from) while out the back of the pub, facing the Downs is an adults-only terrace for a peaceful pint.
Oh and the food is excellent!
Scoff & quoff
As it was a windy day we chose the more sheltered adults’ terrace for a late lunch.
Again, having something to please everyone, the menu was split into pub classics, steaks, light lunches (from baked camembert and moules frites and ham egg and chips) and fancier mains. You can also keep it really simple and plump for a baguette.
I went for the pan roasted fillet of hake with ratatouille, parmesan crust and tempura courgette flowers.
I always find white fish needs extra flavour and the ratatouille, cheesy crust and pea shoots garnish added interest. I particularly enjoyed the tempura battered chunks of courgette with the flower still attached which were both al dente and creamy.
My husband went for the beer-battered fish and chips from the classics part of the menu.
I got total chip envy when I saw the hand cut skin-on wedges that it came with and nicked a fair few and frankly they were among the best chips I’ve ever had in a pub! Be sure to order your own as a side!
We found room to at least share a pud and among several enticing options plumped for a sticky toffee pudding that had a light cakey texture and a came with a jugful of toffee sauce for top ups.
The wider menu celebrates locally sourced food. Other options on our visit included baked ray wing with heirloom tomatoes and capers; slow roast belly of pork with carrot and caraway puree and pickled walnuts; or, for the veggies, pea fritters with braised tomatoes and toasted almonds. There were also bangers and mash and a burger and liver and bacon among the classics.
Some interesting starters included chorizo Scotch egg; smoked duck pastrami with pomegranate and chicory; and rye herring with beetroot slaw. You can also keep it simple with a baguette, smoked camabert with toast or ham egg and chips
The pub is a free house and champions Sussex breweries so you’ll certainly get a pint that hasn’t travelled far.
It’s also worth knowing the pub makes it own honey from hives in a gated off area in front of the terrace. Do ask the staff about the ins and outs of beekeeping – it’s quite fascinating!
Oh and there’s plenty of parking.
In the Area
The Coach & Horses is handily placed to weave into a day trip. Ride the vintage trains at nearby Bluebell Railway and take a tour at Bluebell Vineyard. Visit the National Trust’s Sheffield Park and Gardens or walk and play Pooh Sticks in the Ashdown Forest.
The pub also has three suggested circular walks on its website to help you work up an appetite for that pudding menu.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: A great all-rounder in terms of space and season, with excellent food. Works for both families and those who want to avoid free-range children.
Not so good for: As with many country pubs you’ll need to drive or be driven.
££: Pub classics start from around £11.75, other mains from around £14. The hake dish was £18.50, the fish and chips £13.75. Starters on our visit were from £6, baguettes £7 to £8.50, puddings £6/£7.
The Coach & Horses, School Lane, Danehill, RH17 7JF, 01825 740369, coachandhorses.co