Short trip to Rye, Sussex

We spent a few days at Rye in Sussex and had many great meals. The weather was pretty rotten for our trip so we weren’t able to take advantage of as many outdoor activities as we would have liked to, but the town of Rye had many interesting spots to visit and places to eat within a short walk.

We liked:

  • The Grapevine champagne bar was the site of my first taste of English sparkling wine, which I had avoided because of the incorrect assumption that it would be too sweet. Grapevine offers about 25 sparkling wines; my champagne choice was out of stock and the barman recommended Charles Palmer sparkling wine from East Sussex instead. The wine is a 70% pinot, 30% chardonnay blend, nicely rounded and elegant. The bar has a clubby look, with low lighting, comfortable chairs, and dark walls covered in classic Hollywood photos. Notably friendly service.

  • The Globe Inn Marsh is a short walk outside the main town. We were impressed by the robust cocktail menu (tons of featured gins) and daily changing menu that is posted to the wall. We split the ribs for two: dry cured Gloucester Old Spot ribs served with chorizo baked beans, potato salad, flatbread, corn on the cob and two whiskey sours (?!). As the American at the table, I was primed to be more critical. The rib texture was very good; the sauce was much less sticky than ribs I’ve had in the USA, and needed to be spooned from the pan bottom to add flavor. The whiskey sours were quite bizarre, more like a sweet sparkling lemonade in flavor. Garlic flatbread, chorizo beans, and corn were all well made and the portions were American (read: huge). I also had a great elderflower-blackberry Pimms which wiped away the memory of the unsour unwhiskey whiskey sour.

  • Landgate Bistro made for a lovely dinner and was the most upscale of our choices. Notable were the cheese menu, baked cheesecake, a main of local salt marsh lamb, and the goose ham as part of an appetizer of potatoes and crispy egg.

  • On the not-quite-restaurant front, the Kino movie theatre was a great choice for a pouring, windy day, and the cinema cafe is fantastic. We’d been tipped to it by our hotel and were impressed. The cafe serves cream tea, many types of locally made cake, local Willets Farm ice cream, and well made coffee. The mint ice cream was fantastic.

Regrets: The Mermaid Inn was pricey and not interesting enough for the money. Knoops, of “best hot chocolate in the world” fame, is closed on Wednesday and Thursday, so we missed a chance to go during our short visit.

Globe Inn Marsh: http://globeinnmarshrye.com/
Landgate Bistro: http://www.landgatebistro.co.uk/

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Interesting review, thank you. I stayed at the Mermaid Inn in 1995-ish and my strong memory is that the bed (or at least the mattress) seemed to have dated back to the mid-15th century – hope they have improved since then! Sounds as though you found great eats though.

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Its a nice old town isn’t it with food that punches above its weight - suspect its because of the wealth of local residents (Paul McCartney is one of the ageing rockers who lives in the vicinity). Haven’t eaten there for years though.

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The Mermaid had a great interior and I wouldn’t mind going for a drink. We’d been told it was the most haunted site in the world, but the only poltergeist we found was the Ghost of 1999 in that the dining menu seemed so dated and out of step.

I ordered a Waldorf Salad, which came “deconstructed” – an undressed salad leaf, a couple whole grapes, giant hunks of celery and a smattering of walnut on top of a smear of mayonnaise. The deconstruction zapped the flavor and the result looked like something you’d hand a toddler as an afternoon snack. I’d much rather they prepared traditional food traditionally (and well) than updated with fad techniques that really didn’t enhance.

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We were last in Rye in 2013, so places may have closed or changed but briefly:

The Ship - good pub grub. Absolutely nothing faux gastropub about it.

Webbs at the Fish Cafe - very decent seafood

Ypres Castle - another pub. Nothing good about it. Mrs H bought a bag of chips on the way home as she was still hungry

Ambrette - Indian. Ponced up beyond belief, so everything that is vibrant about South Asian food had been stripped away.

Tuscan Kitchen - best food of the week. Italian, needless to say.

And a mention for the Beach Bistro at nearby Camber (where we were staying). Good fish, excellent local salt marsh lamb. Service overly American style - there’s no need for one, let alone three members of staff to do the check-back - fuck off and let me eat dinner, I’ll call you if I need owt.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold