The Pelham Arms, Lewes

I freely admit to being one of those Londoners that whinge about the quality of restaurants outside of the big smoke. I've made quite a number of mistakes in the past and cannot get my head around how pubs or restaurants can get it just so wrong. When they are surrounded by excellent local fresh produce, why oh why go for something that is luke warm from a microwave?

As the weather wasn't too conducive for walks on the beach, we decided to retreat to a pub for a long lunch before the drive back to London. We love Lewes so did a quick search on the internet where I found the Pelham Arms. The website looked good, they purported to using only locally sourced ingredients so off we went. I was fully expecting to be disappointed but was thrilled to have been proved so wrong.

We arrived mid afternoon to a buzzing welcoming atmosphere, they serve lunches until 4pm on a Sunday. Thankfully there was a free table. Choice on roasts was limited to Chicken and Pork as they'd run out (a big indication food is cooked from scratch here), we opted for the pork and Matilda went for Fish and Chips. There is a clear warning on the menu that you won't be rushed and you'll have to wait for your food as it is cooked from fresh. We did indeed wait a while but were happy to do so, the interiors of the pub are gorgeous to look at and with plenty of newspapers available we were content to just slow down and relax.

Finally the food arrived looking resplendent. The knife cut straight through the succulent juicy pork, meltingly tender in the mouth. The roast potatoes were perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy goodness oozed from the inside. Plenty of freshly cooked vegetables, lashings of delicious gravy and a large crisp yorkshire pud on the side. The celeriac mash hidden under the meat was a very pleasant surprise as was the fragrant apple sauce. We thought we'd died and gone to heaven!

Puddings were equally delicious, I had the fruit crumble, Matilda a Vanilla cone and the husband had the Sticky Toffee pudding. Prices are very reasonable too for the standard of the ingredients on your plate, our bill came to less than £60 admittedly there was no alcohol to pay for. Two courses are £19.50 and Matilda's food came to about £7.50. A bargain I would say.

Service was attentive but what I loved was the lack of urgency to get you in and out in a flash so more bums on seats could be shepherded in. This is a place where the owners clearly want to share their love of good food with their customers. Lunches on the weekend should be languished over and not rushed. Each mouthful should be a joy. Too many times we are hurried from course to course as the waiting staff keep glancing at the clock hurriedly refilling our glasses so we can be out within the allocated time slot.

How refreshing that this is not the case at the Pelham Arms. It is a joy to discover such a wonderful pub in Lewes, we will be visiting again soon. I'd even go as far to say it's worth a special trip here if you're not in the area. The Pelham Arms would be at home amongst the most celebrated London eateries. Remember to allow a few hours for this place!

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