REVIEW: This head chef really cuts the mustard

Craig and Carlo at Crouchers

Craig and Carlo at Crouchers

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You will find mustard in most kitchens.

But only Crouchers has Craig Mustard in theirs - and this head chef is as keen as his name suggests.

Wonderful Beef Wellington

Wonderful Beef Wellington

Not just that, he’s hugely talented. A culinary genius who has further sealed the restaurant’s reputation as one of the best places to dine in the South.

He’s just 27 - but the meals he and his team are plating up are simply superb.

They combine classic tradition with a real sense of creativity and imagination.

Take his starters.

Cock a hoop with the coq au vin

Cock a hoop with the coq au vin

The sea scallops were sauteed to perfection. It’s so easy to overcook by a few seconds and turn them to rubber. Not here. And the accompanying cauliflower puree, purslane and split lemon dressing added texture as well as cutting through the flavours.

The mains embrace every taste.

But how good to see Beef Wellington there. Too many restaurants plump for steak without the complexity that this dish demands.

This Wellington had been given a neat contemporary twist too, with the fillet wrapped in Parma ham, chive pancake and mushroom duxelle.

Cinnamon creme br�

Cinnamon creme br�

My wife chose the coq au vin. Again, it’s a dish that appears less frequently than it once did.

But this was an upgrade and some. The boulangere potatoes and truffled carrot puree complimented the flavours.

We had already heard of the impressive reputation of the ‘pork three ways’ and the pan fried breast of duck but didn’t sample on this visit.

The plates aren’t merely mini-masterpieces - they are hugely generous in their serving sizes.

Stunning scallops

Stunning scallops

By the time we reached dessert we were almost full.

But who could resist the cinnamon creme brûlée with green apple sorbet or the Earl Grey panacotta with milk foam and vanilla madelline?

These were more conservative in size - thankfully! - but were nothing short of a super smooth and creamy triumph.

Restaurants, of course, are a team effort.

Front of house is nothing without a great kitchen - and equally the best dishes served badly will always fail to please.

So what a great team there is at Crouchers led by restaurant manager Carlo.

Part of the restaurant

Part of the restaurant

Warm, welcoming and full of Italian charm.

He was supported by Peter and Cameron - two young men who could not have done more to make us feel at home.

Crouchers has a sense of the retro in its huge lampshades and elements of its decor. There is tradition too in its oak beamed vaulted ceilings.

The food itself captures the essence of this glance back - then drives the vision forward with a confidence and quality which is sadly all too rare.

We visited to review. We will return to relax.

A great venue that deserves a repeat visit.

Factfile

Characterful oak-beamed restaurant with views over open countryside

Award winning Cuisine, 2 AA Rosettes for food excellence

Local ingredients and seasonal dishes

Open to the public for lunch and dinner

Private dining for up to 22 guests in the conservatory and garden room

Open for functions and parties for up to 110 guests

A la carte menu for lunch and dinner, from £15.50 for two courses

Sunday lunch a speciality £20.50 for two courses and £26.50 for three courses

Crouchers Restaurant, Bar and Hotel

Birdham Road, Chichester

West Sussex PO20 7EH

Email: enquiries@crouchershotel.co.uk

Tel: +44(0)1243 784995

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