If, like us, you’re not familiar with the area, you might be forgiven for thinking that the Wild Mushroom was a bit “in the middle of nowhere”. Certainly, its location completely threw the sat-nav, dumping us a couple of hundred yards up a track into a caravan park. Driving a bit further down the main road, we were about to phone them to ask where the heck they were, when we spotted their rather poor sign-posting. But, finally in the restaurant, you instantly know that this is one of those places where everything is going to be fine. It just oozes professionalism. The room is nondescript but, thankfully, there’s comfy seating. And staff who are on the ball. It’s a shortish menu which leans towards seasonality and which will leave most people spoilt for choice.
Canapes were good - quails eggs, cheese & pumpkin straws and, our favourite, bacon pinwheels – thin puff pastry, topped with bacon, rolled up, sliced and baked.
It’s Bramley apple season in the area, so no surprise that it makes more than one appearance on the menu. First it’s perfectly paired with celeriac in a soup, topped with a sprinkle of crisp pancetta crumbs. The other starter also worked. They called it a duck gibier and hazelnut terrine. “Gibier” is the French for “game” so maybe they intended to indicate it was wild duck (which they could have done in English without me having to Google for the translation). It was just the right consistency to load on to slices of cobnut toast. There’s a fruity chutney to cut through the richness of the duck.
There’s no hunting season for pigeon (it’s regarded as a pest) but I always think of it as an autumn dish. Breasts were pan fried to getting on for medium rare – you wouldn’t want them cooked more. They sat on bubble & squeak and the plate was decorated with wedges of roasted beetroot and slices of crisp pancetta. An autumn dish for sure, but one I’d eat any day of the week, any month of the year. Rump of South Downs lamb felt very much a cross-Channel affair. It had been given a breadcrumb crust, flavoured with lemon and mint, and cooked perfectly to pink. To accompany, there was a classic French dauphinoise potato and aubergines which had been thoughtfully peeled and cut into smallish pieces before being confit’d.
As for desserts, a lemon millefeuille had layers of crisp pastry and a tangy lemon cream. Raspberries were the perfect seasonal accompaniment. There was skill shown as well with the other plate. A Bramley panacotta was bang-on for texture (but the expected sharpness of the apple was muted). There’s blackberries treated several ways – fresh, sorbet and a jelly. We’d eaten a very similar plate, the other night, at their place in Rye. Both work.
We came away very happy eaters.