This weekend I fell in love. Not the type of love that you are probably thinking about though. This is the type of love you have for something not someone! Have you ever been on an amazing holiday and fallen in love with the whole charm and charisma of the place? Or perhaps you have been to a friends house, a gorgeous hotel or apartment and thought ‘WOW’ this place is amazing? Well that is exactly what happened to me when I went to The Horse Guards Inn. Delightful, charming and quirky are all words that sum up this little place tucked away out in the depths of Tillington, West Sussex.
It was a Saturday lunchtime, we phoned up on the off chance that we might need to book and I am glad we did as the earliest available table wasn’t until 2.30pm! This was a mixture of good and bad news. Firstly I was already quite hungry and it was only 11.30am. Secondly you slightly dread going to restaurants when you know that it is nearly the end of service as dishes will often be sold out or even worse you are served some overcooked unrecognisable piece of something on your plate that makes you refer back to the menu to remind yourself what it’s supposed to be! Oh and finally the good news…being fully booked has to be a good thing…right?
It’s not your picture perfect type of place from the outside but does have a beautiful church opposite that you can gaze at whilst eating your lunch…that’s if its not a sunny day, if the latter then you most definitely have to be outside in the spacious garden area, with hammocks, buntins and flower pots!
We were met by a very friendly woman who I suspect may have been the owner. We were swiftly sat and our drink order was taken. A pint of ginger beer for me (as well as Chai Tea Latte’s I am also completely addicted to ginger beer, Crabbies, Hollows…pretty much anything that has ginger in it!) and a pint of their local Sussex Best for Mr C. We were then told that a few of the items on the menu had sold out but not complete meals only parts of it, for which they told us the replacements…the ploughmans normally has a venison sausage roll but was replaced with something equally as delicious (yes, I do forget). A pretty good effort as at least they had made the effort to replace like with like rather than having sold out written all over the menu.
My photos are going to tell you all but I thought I would take a moment to say that this is one of those idyllic places with low ceilings, wooden beams, mismatched chairs, tables, crockery etc etc that look like they have been hand picked at various auctions and hideaway vintage shops. The whole place smells deliciously of firewood, flowers and tempting food redolent of my childhood.
There was ‘Light Bites’, ‘Steak’ and a ‘Mains’ section with about five choices on each. Both Mr C and I liked the look of the chorizo and goat burger, wholegrain bap, onion, tomato, dill pickle, salad and hand-cut fries. Unfortunately the hand-cut fries had run out (not literally, though I probably would if I was about to be put in a fryer!) and therefore there was the non hand-cut version aka out of the freezer. Anyway, we both decided to be boring and have the same…at least this way no food envy was going to happen. We both joked with the waitress about how this option was on the ‘light bites’ section before deciding that we would have some anchovy olives to nibble on. They were as they should be, fresh and not too salty.
The burgers didn’t take that long to come and were cooked to perfection. Nice and rare. The taste was most certainly different and I had been a little worried that the chorizo would overpower the goat but it was seasoned beautifully and all the flavours came through. The salad was dressed nicely and had clearly been dressed in a bowl before being put on the plate. The dill pickle was quite sweet but also seasoned well and balanced out the meatiness of the burger.
Mustard and mayo…I know some of you may think that this is criminal but unfortunately I really like it!
The service was good and the fire which was behind us was not left unattended. We left very happy and satisfied and in need of a good stroll which was lucky as it was time to walk the dogs.
I loved this place so much that I persuaded another friend to come back with me yesterday. Again the place was fully booked. Tuesday lunchtime…Tuesday lunchtime I say! You might expect to find that in decent places in the city but out in a small village in the middle of the Sussex countryside?
Here is the run through of what we had. I will make it quick!
Nibbles! Fresh baked bread with pumpkin seeds. My favourite and delicious. Sussex rapeseed oil with pomegranate molasses, freshly made salsa verde, roasted red pepper pesto and mixed olives.
The Dorset snails were absolutely amazing and looked almost too good to eat.
Finito! They lasted about 2 minutes.
The poached egg was cooked perfectly on the kedgeree though my only qualm was that the peas cannot have been fresh as not currently in season but the rest of the dish was beautifully seasoned.
The goats belly with black pudding and beetroot was good though the goats belly was mainly fat and no meat. Nice flavour but I couldn’t eat it all. 10/10 for trying something different though.
Again another lovely lunch. Two hours very casually slipped by without either of us really noticing!
Some more photos….just because you haven’t seen enough already!