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The Bat & Ball, Newpound

A charming, rambling country pub in gorgeous surroundings with a menu to suit all tastes. Perfect for families to while away a daydreamy summer afternoon or warm up in winter with a slap-up meal.

The Bat & Ball has arguably the best location in Sussex. It’s just up the road from Fisher’s Adventure Farm Park and with a constant overspill of business on its doorstep, it has the family market nailed.

But would it be up to scratch during Twixmas, those confusing days between Christmas and New Year in which nobody really knows what day it is, when they last ate anything that wasn’t cheese and Quality Street, and definitely cannot be bothered to cook?

I rolled up with three generations in tow including four energetic, rowdy children aged between six and nine. As an added challenge, my sister-in-law and her two children are gluten free – rarely a problem in central London or urban Singapore, much trickier out here in the sticks.

Hungry, moderately snappy from too much time en famille and in need of a relaxing afternoon in which absolutely nobody had to wash up, the Bat & Ball had its work cut out to please this little mob.

The vibe

Grab yourself a ‘wish you were here’ postcard from the country and it’ll have a picture of the Bat & Ball on the front. This is the quintessential English country pub, its own little charmed oasis of car-free (other than the ample car-park) heaven packed full of planters, troughs and blooms bursting forth even in midwinter.

A large garden features a swing, an eminently climbable tree and garden games for children, and there are separate courtyard areas for dining al fresco during milder months and a cottage garden from which herbs and veg are picked and taken straight to the kitchen to be cooked and served. Little ones will also enjoy gazing at the pond, complete with ducks and today, two baby moorhens – but thoughtfully fenced off, probably more for the benefit of the ducks than the small people.

The building itself is old and rambling with charming period interiors (but mind the steps!) and decked out with quaint little trinkets including an old piano, a vintage typewriter and other unexpected touches. Drinks were ordered at the bar while we all warmed ourselves by the roaring log burner, before being led into one of the three dining rooms, laid festively with candles, silverware, thick white linen and the classiest silver party poppers. Grown-ups sank gratefully into sturdy, leather-padded chairs, as the children dashed outside to play.

Scoff and quaff

Selection of different bread

We arrived on a weekday so chose from the standard menu, which was packed out with locally-sourced pub favourites. A separate menu runs on Sundays, there’s also a kids’ menu and an afternoon tea, although this needs to be booked four days in advance.

My sister-in-law pronounced herself pleased with the gluten-free selection, vegans are also catered for with a range of options and the staff were well-informed as to what dish was suitable for whom.

The menu is locally-sourced pub grub done well, with hearty dishes like miso butterscotch pork belly (£7) or Sussex goats cheese and poached pear (£7) on offer to start, and a selection of From The Field (meat dishes), From The Sea (fish) and From The Garden (veggie) as well as salads and sandwiches. Each category had only a few options making the menu plentiful but not overwhelming.

We chose a range of meals from pan-fried salmon fillet served with herb hollandaise, spinach, sauteed potatoes, green beans and an olive crumb (£16) to the Haywards burger (£11) and kids’ gluten-free fish and chips (£6.50 and it’s worth noting this was an unbattered fish fillet, not a gluten-free batter/breadcrumb option).

For such a large and rather complex order the staff were unfazed and all special requests, including for mayonnaise and ketchup from a rather excitable six-year-old, were treated with respect and fulfilled to the letter.

There were precious few leftovers at the end, a testimony to the cooking which in keeping with the menu, is best described as pub grub done well. The service was pleasant if on the slow side, not that any of us were in a rush.

The drinkers among us had plenty to choose from, with a choice of 10 white wines, 13 reds, three rose and six sparklings (some served by the bottle) priced from £3.50 a glass at the bargain basement end up to £40 a bottle for red and white, and £105 for the house best champagne. Kids could choose from a range of juices and soft drinks, and a full coffee menu is also available.

Desserts were pricey at around £7 per dish, and of the hearty pub ilk – sticky toffee pudding with ice cream, chocolate Yule log and apple strudel with custard. A fine selection of ice creams and sorbets was greeted excitedly by the children.

Around & About

The main attraction nearby is Fisher’s Farm Park, a short walk from the Bat & Ball and beloved of locals and visitors from far and wide alike. Like all kids’ attractions Fisher’s bustles all year round, so it makes perfect sense to combine a visit with lunch, dinner or even a night camping at the Bat & Ball which offers pitches and a glamping experience for the less rough n ready.

It’s also a short walk from the Sussex headquarters of auction house Bellmans – one of the locations for TV show Bargain Hunt, back in the good old days of David Dickinson. Perfect if nosying around antiques is your bag.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good For Families, including those with furry members. Dogs are welcome at the Bat & Ball! There’s the option to camp out – best for the summer months, only for the brave in winter.

Not for Not the hippest venue, nor the most quietly romantic, the Bat & Ball’s charm lies in its intergenerational appeal. Possibly also not for those in a rush to grab a quick bite whilst passing through.

The damage Standard fare for pub grub that’s on the good end of standard.

The Bat & Ball, Newpound Lane, Newpound Common, Wisborough Green, West Sussex RH14 0EH 01403 700199.

haywards-batandball.co.uk

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