Gone are the days when people pull up their nose and call it a contradiction in terms. Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay have put a sudden stop to the misnomer that a plate of decent nosh is only to be found outside the borders of this green island.
Take Bill’s for instance. It’s a chain and no need to snort at that either. The standard is consistently high wherever you go. The burger is a munchy mouthful of locally sourced beef between a bun that doesn’t go squelch when you bite into it. The avocado, bacon and spinach salad is a caveman’s delight with crisp, crunch and creamy all in one plate. The menu covers everyman’s wants and needs from a not-so-hungry light meze plate to a full on duck pie or English lamb rump. Looking around is a treat with walls covered in trading store goods, the service is always fun and upbeat and it’s nice to share a table with some other friendly locals. All this for a price that’s not going to burst your bubble. Even the house white from Spain, completely palatable by the way, comes in at a decent £14.95. A happy place indeed and a lot healthier than your usual greasy spoon.
Bill’s in Lewes, East Sussex
Bacon, avocado, spinach salad at Bill’s
Pubs are vying for customers nowadays and it’s not the beer alone that’s going to lure them in. Most publicans say they have higher wine sales and it’s the food that really makes the profit margins rise. More competition always lifts the bar a notch or two and even in small towns, the one with the better food is the one that stays in business. The White Horse in the artists’ town of Ditchling in the South Downs, is head-on-head with The Bull, both establishments doing their utmost to keep the punters happy. I wolfed down a sausage and caramelised onion ciabatta with fat cut chips and washed down with slugs of Simonsvlei Sauvignon Blanc in all its crispy acidity and grassy character at The White Horse and felt duly satisfied.