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The Crown Inn, Dial Post

Cosy surrounds and a show-stopping sharing pudding are among reasons to visit this unpretentious foodie pub

Want to know a fancy word for stuffing your face with pudding? Tell someone you had an Assiette. It’s French for plate, and on a menu is a variety of the same type of food prepared in different ways. Order it at The Crown in Dial Post, near Horsham and you’ll end up with a heavenly row of desserts.

More of that later.

First off, a look around. This is a lovely cosy pub, with a wood burner, old beams and nooks and crannies.

It works well across the seasons or different moods however as there’s also a conservatory that looks out over the village green. It’s a dog-friendly pub and there were a couple of pooches snoozing on the floor by the wood-burner on my visit.

The place has been spruced up in recent months so, for instance, the old swags of fabric in the conservatory have gone and its a more simple, modern space… with some lovely autumnal dressing when I was there.

The pub has a Countryside Alliance award for being a rural champion. It gets meat, fish and free-range eggs from local suppliers and the chef goes foraging for wild garlic, blackberries and the like. I’m told locals have also been known to turn up with game at the kitchen door!

The manager, Penny told me that she and her husband wanted it to be a foodie pub but an unpretentious one and they seem to have hit the mark.

From the specials board I ordered a chicken dish with chorizo that was hearty and full of flavour and my friend had a rather large sea bass that just about fitted her plate.

Classic pub fare done well is at the heart of the menu. Individually wrapped, homemade pies are a speciality, there’s also the likes of local ale battered Haddock and chips, butchers’ steak and chips, steak burgers and halloumi burgers and sandwiches available at lunchtimes.

There’s game in season with specials like pheasant with toasted almonds.

Kids’ versions of meals are available on request and there’s a garden for them to potter about in in warmer months. And if you’re gluten-free is good to known you can get a gf-free bun for your burgers and on Sundays the gravy for the roasts is also gluten-free.

 

As for the drinks, it’s a freehouse, beer lovers will be pleased to know.

And so to that pudding. “I haven’t got much of a sweet tooth” I said… before being enticed to order this!

It’s billed as a for two, though frankly could have served four easily and would be great for sharing with kids.

From left to right it’s sticky toffee pudding, rum and raisin ice-cream, fruit crumble, creme brulee, gluten-free chocolate bread and butter pudding with some shortbread biscuits and extra ice-cream and physalis fruits in there. It’s great value too at £14.

Heroically we dug in. The sticky toffee pudding was my favourite, light and spicy, so I definitely recommend that if you’re going for the usual solo pud. There was also an enticing sounding clementine and sherry trifle on the menu, or you could swerve the sugar and go for a selection of Sussex cheeses with port.

Staying over

There’s basic, reasonably-priced accommodation in a stable block beside the pub.

In the area

The Muddy-award wining Knepp Wildland Safaris is just up the road where you can take wildlife tours, go glamping in a yurt, shepherd’s hut or treehouse. You’re also within striking distance of Horsham for the shops and Capitol Theatre.

Regular events

There’s a curry night the second Thursday of every month and on the third Friday of every month at noon you’ll find vintage cars lined up around the green as their owners meet up and everyone has a good gander before a pub lunch.

Christmas

Naturally there’s a Christmas menu. The pub is open for lunch on the day itself if you don’t fancy cooking for your tribe. I’m told some locals book as early as summer to ensure a place! Before then there’s a Christmas party menu with forest mushroom, tarragon & chestnut soup; crispy whitebait with curried mayo and pub potted prawns with roasted red peppers, among the starters, then individual pub-made pies; turkey and all the trimmings or a superfood & nut Wellington among the mains.

Good for: Comfort food, pub classics, game in season, great puddings, characterful, cosy surroundings, bringing your dog, classic car spotting.

Not so good for: If you’re looking for your trendy Farrow and Balled modern gastro pub or fancy food.

££: Sample prices for mains: local ale battered haddock and chips £12.50 Calcot Farm Butchers’ Steak and chips £15, homemade pies £12-£14.

The Crown Inn, Dial Post, Worthing Road, West Sussex, RH13 8NH, 01403 710902, crown-inn-dialpost.co.uk

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