This week’s #FoodieFriends post is from Dan Ericsson, a friend from University. He has an excellent taste in all things food and drink and has written about The Pass restaurant at South Lodge Hotel in Sussex. Funnily enough, it’s a sister company to Pennyhill Park, which I wrote about earlier this week. Great foodie minds think alike 😉
“It’s been four and a bit years since I moved from Sussex to London, hoping to find my fortune and some amazing food alongside it. Whilst restaurant-hunting has undeniably been successful with London’s excellent restaurant scene and a strong collection of favourites….. I’m painfully aware of the irony that if you offered me a meal anywhere in the country I’d pick somewhere about 20 minutes from where I grew up.
Seeing a photo of the restaurant itself and the hotel containing it you wouldn’t connect the two at all. The hotel is a lovely country manor, and walking into the reception area there’s a definite sense of it being the perfect setting for a Poirot novel. The restaurant on the other hand is something very different – you actually eat inside the kitchen (or on a little area to the side of it to be more precise) – brave in London, bold in a smaller market like Sussex. The setting is an ultra-modern flash of white and green, with only a few tables contained in the area and some discreet television sets built into the walls showing the chefs cooking from a number of different angles. Of course you are also alongside the cooking area and can see all the preparations in place – and instead of waiters bringing you each course, the chefs bring and explain the meals themselves. Everything about the design, the cutlery and glassware and the precise way the restaurant is run by restaurant manager Tommaso Di Cristofaro scream that this is a restaurant that pays attention to detail…..
And the food…… oh the food. Let’s start before you’ve even begun the meal itself – when entering you’re presented with some little cones containing a little truffle in one and a little hummus in the other – the truffle one in particular really sets alight the taste buds for what’s to come. It’s tasting menu only, with an option of an 8, 10 or 12 course menu (2 less if not Friday or Saturday.) You are not explicitly told what you are getting but rather presented with a list of a couple of the core flavours, and on the 12 course surprise menu simply a one-word component of the dish.
Taking the adventure by the hand and putting your trust in the chefs really pays off here – because what I love about The Pass and what sets it apart from other restaurants for me is just how incredibly clever the use of flavour is and how you experience these in ways you wouldn’t think possible. Let me explain further – the first course on a previous visit was described on a menu as beetroot/egg/lime. I confess when reading this on the menu there may have been a little gulp and the feeling that this would be a course that might be endured rather than enjoyed – but it was so finely balanced, so perfect a balance of the texture of the egg, sharpness of the lime and flavour of the beetroot that it was honestly beyond delicious. Balancing volatile flavours like those and making it work is a real skill and understanding of palate by chef Matt Gillan and his team…..and I’m going to leave it there on revealing anything about the food – because part of the delight of this restaurant is the discovery!
So I cannot recommend here enough if you are in the area or having a countryside weekend away. It does require an open mind and willingness to be led to a certain degree across different flavours and try new things – but the is gamble most definitely worth it.”
Photos taken from The South Lodge Hotel’s website