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Crouchers

Crouchers' motel-style exterior hides a fine dining restaurant perfect for dates or celebrations

Here’s a great example of not judging a book by its cover. Crouchers‘ motel-like low brick buildings sit just off the main road between Chichester and the Witterings and if you weren’t in the know you might think that any food on offer would be of the handy pit stop variety.

How wrong you’d be because it is very much up the fine dining end of things and among the best places to eat in West Sussex. In fact, though it has 26 bedrooms, Crouchers prefers to call itself not a hotel but a ‘restaurant with rooms’.

The restaurant is a modern building with several skylights, plus attractive lighting in the evening. It’s most notable feature is a wide range of modern art off-setting the traditional touches like smart linen tablecloths. There’s also a private dining area available for up to 22 guests in a conservatory.

Crouchers’ nearness to the coast ensures a ready supply of good seafood. I ordered a squid ink pasta starter that was light and delicate and visually appealing too with a pretty contrast of black from the ink and orange from the caviar. I followed it with more seafood, opting for sea bass with mussels and samphire. Meat-lovers can go for the likes of maple glazed pork loin with crab apples, lime chutney, noisette potatoes and pancetta.

It’s very rare that a pudding is a highlight for me but the dessert that I shared with my other half was a revelation. An arty affair with white chocolate and saffron mousse, edible flowers, caramel, and some fantastic orange ice-cream. It had several interesting textures and nothing was too over-sweet.

The owners of Crouchers are South African so unsurprisingly there’s a good wine list.  You can also induldge in cocktails in the small adjoining bar, perched on a stool or cosying up in colourful cushioned corner (something of a tongue twister that!). It’s worth knowing the bar is open 23 hours a day so perfect for a night cap if you’re in the area after the pubs are shut.

Stop in for breakfast and you can load yourself up with a full English or eggs Benedict, Florentine or royale. Lunches and afternoon tea are also available and lighter lunches can be served in the bar. There’s also a roast on offer at Crouchers on Sundays.

Tide out at Bosham

In the area

You’re handy for the beaches at East and West Wittering which even in Autumn are worth a scenic stroll (beware the high parking charges at West Wittering beach). You’re also very near Chichester’s scenic harbour and Bosham harbour and Chichester itself. You can also work off your food with a stroll around Cass Sculpture Foundation which really impressed me on my visit last year.

Good for: Perfect for a date, particularly for a special occasion. Book it for a treat as part of a weekend away, either staying on site or somewhere nearby. There’s plenty of space for family and friends to gather for a celebration (they even do weddings here) and to stay over if required. It’s worth knowing too that it’s all on a level so handy if accessibility is an issue.

Not so good for: I wouldn’t bring children unless they were part of a wider party, it would be wasted on them. It has to be reached by car (there’s plenty of parking) so you’ll need a taxi if you’re not staying over and you and yours want to drink.

££  The A la carte menu has mains from around £15 upwards with most starters and desserts around the £7 – £7.50 mark. The set menus are great value at £15 for two courses or £19 for three for lunch / £18 for two courses and £23.50 for three for dinner. Afternoon tea is £15, a cream tea £8.50.

 

Crouchers, Birdham Road, Chichester, West Sussex, PO20 7EH 01243 784995, crouchershotel.co.uk 

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Sussex