The Anglesey Arms (West Sussex)
My local radio station, Spirit FM, runs an occasional promotion called "Half Price Dining" which features many a local restaurant/pub. Last month an old haunt of mine, The Anglesey Arms, was featured, and I jumped at the chance of buying one of their vouchers. The Spirit FM deal was for a £15 voucher which gives the redeemer ... £30 off the final bill.
Neither my partner and I had been to the Anglesey Arms for getting on for 15 years, but it used to be a very popular place for a post-work drink or a spot of luncheon. My partner and I used to work at Goodwood Racecourse in the 80's and 90's and the Anglesey Arms was one of number of pubs that was in fairly easy reach. If we fancied a nice plate of food and a swift pint, then the Anglesey Arms was only a ten minute drive from the racecourse and one could always be guaranteed a good meal (and their lunchtime fry-ups were legendary!). We were therefore very much looking forward to revisiting an old haunt and seeing if the present day menu and venue lived up to our memories from the 90's.
*** THE PUB ***
The owners of the Anglesey Arms describe their pub as "A charming and old-fashioned country pub" and I would definitely agree with that. This is definitely a pub-pub and this was evidenced by the number of drinkers in the bar area on the night we dined there. Next door to the bar is the restaurant and that was a lot quieter than the bar area. The pub is housed in a Georgian brick building and has a wonderful two acre garden to the back of the place. The car park is large and well laid out to the side of the building. I would have liked to have had a quick peek at the garden to see if that was still as lovely as it used to be, but it was too dark to see it properly on the March night we dined there, so I will have to content myself with a return visit someday when the sun is shining.
Inside the pub is very laidback and lacking in airs and graces. It's all flagstone floors, wooden panelling and old ceiling beams. However, it has to be said that the place looked more than a little shabby. The décor was exactly the same as when we last visited the pub in 1997...only a lot more tired and a lot more used looking. Don't get me wrong, the place is obviously well loved, but it looked more than a little tired and in need for a good tablespoon of TLC. For example the carpets in the restaurant area were the same dark patterned swirly carpet that had first been laid last century and were not improved by the large swathe of yellow and black sticky hazard tape stuck on to keep the tread down. Equally, the toilets looked like something that had last been decorated in World War II - dark green paint, cobwebs and an ancient hot water device. There was a large arrangement of hideous plastic flowers (complete with dust and cobwebs) by the sink which leant absolutely nothing to the ambience and would do better to be tipped straight into nearest bin. The whole place was clean(ish), but oh so very dated. We really didn't expect to walk into a place we last visited 16 years ago and find it so completely unaltered. It was almost as if time had stood still and we needed to break into a chorus of "Let's do the Timewarp again".....
*** THE FOOD ***
The owners of the pub make much noise about their food being fresh and home-cooked as well as their use of many local suppliers. They get most of their meat from local suppliers and all their chicken is free range. All fish is locally caught and from sustainable stocks, and they try and use organic eggs and vegetables wherever possible.
The Anglesey Arms offers a full range of snacks as well as proper sit-down restaurant meals. If you've just popped in for a snack and a drink, there are a full range of sandwiches (from £6.50) and ploughmans (£10.50). If you're after something a little more substantial and hot then there a nice range of lunchtime classics in the form of Scampi, Beer Battered Cod or Sausages and Mash at £11.50 each. If you prefer to see something a little less traditional on your pub menu then you can partake of Thai Fishcakes with Homemade Chili Dressing and Oriental Salad (£11.50), Smoked Salmon and Poached Egg on a Toasted Muffin with Roquette Salad (£6.75) or how about Warm Salad of Free Range Smoked Chicken, Chorizo and Chili Dressing (£13.50)?
Dinner prices are a little heftier than lunchtime ones. Starters range in price from £5 to £7.50 with main courses priced from £13 (Ham, Egg and Chips or Cod and Chips) up to a massive £27 (8oz 21 day hung Sussex Fillet Steak).
In addition to the printed menu we were shown, there is the usual chalk blackboard with daily specials on it. There was a choice of about 2 or 3 starters (Roasted Pepper and Tomato Soup or Grilled Halloumi) and 3 or 4 main courses on offer (Anglesey Fish Pie, Wild Mushroom Penne or Smoked Haddock on Warm Potato Salad with Poached Egg and Spiced Hollandaise Sauce) on the night we dined there. I must say that the lighting in the Anglesey Arms is rather dim and the blackboard in need of a further coat of black paint or a new stick of chalk as it was extremely hard to read. After squinting at it for a bit we managed to decipher the contents, but it wasn't easy :o(
*** DINNER FOR TWO ***
We visited on a Tuesday evening in March and the pub was rather busy with plenty of drinkers in the main bar area. The restaurant was much quieter and there were only about 3 or 4 tables occupied. However, this could well have been due to the fact that there was live music in the pub that evening and the band were setting up their gear in the main restaurant area. When I rang to book the table earlier in the day, the landlord did warn me that they had live music starting from 8.30pm that evening, so I booked the table for 7.30pm hoping that we would be able to eat most of our meal before it got too loud in there.
Upon arrival we ordered some drinks at the bar and then made ourselves known to the landlady. She asked us if we wanted to have our drinks in the bar or go straight on through to the restaurant. We opted for the latter so she furnished us with a couple of menus and asked us to pop through the door to the restaurant.
We were both rather hungry so we decided to have starters to take the edge off our appetites. There was plenty of choice on offer from Homemade Selsey Crab Pâté, Whitebait or Marinated Olives. There are also a couple of sharing platters on their menu in the form of Charcuterie of Salami, Chorizo, Serano Ham, Marinated Olives, Artichokes and Warm Ciabatta (£15) or Whole Camembert baked in a box with Crusty Dipping Bread (£11), but the smell of someone partaking of the camembert dish in the main bar put us off that - it smelled just like the drains needed attention and fast :o) I was tempted to try the Duck and Pork Rillettes but having not enjoyed rillettes much at Brasserie Blanc last year, I was unconvinced a second outing would improve things here. Instead I decided on one of the blackboard specials of Crispy Beef and Oriental Salad (£6). This was a very tasty dish indeed, although I did think that the portion was a little mean for a £6 outlay. What there was of it was very nice - tiny julienne strips of beef in a spicy sweet chilli marinade tossed in a salad of mixed leaves, cucumber and radishes. However, I do think it would have been nice to have some noodles or crusty bread on the side of this dish as I thought it was a little lacking for £6. It was also extremely spicy due to the numerous flecks of raw chilli in the dish. I needed a second lager shandy to deal with the fire that had been ignited in my mouth :o)
Himself also choose a special from the blackboard of Prawn and Crayfish Cocktail (£6.50). He was very impressed with his starter as there was a generous amount of both prawns and crayfish in the dish and it hadn't been bulked up with lettuce and Marie rose sauce like many places do. His dish was accompanied by four slices of brown bread and butter and I pinched a slice to make up for the lack of portion on my starter.
For my main course I was again tempted by the blackboard specials and chose the Escalope of Veal with Salad and Frites at £14. This was a more generous portion than my starter and it looked wonderfully appetising. There were two good chunks of veal coated in a thin, crispy crumb accompanied by a goodly mound of thin and extremely crispy fries. The dish was finished off with a separate bowl of salad. Unfortunately the dish was absolutely swimming in garlic butter and although I found it delicious initially, it was far too rich and rather sickly. The butter soaked into the bottom of the fries and the escalopes making them really soggy. If I had appreciated quite how much garlic butter there was on the plate initially I would have drained most of it off, as it rendered the remainder of the fries inedible by the time I reached them. They were just too wet and I was feeling a little sick from the surfeit of butter in the dish. All in all the excess of garlic butter just made this dish far too greasy and overly rich to the stomach, and I was left feeling more than a little nauseous.
My partner went for their Anglesey Organic Beef Burger with Blue Cheese, Onion Rings and Confit served in a Toasted Bun with Fries, also at £14. Neither of us is a fan of blue cheese so he asked if he could have his burger served with cheddar or mozzarella instead, and the landlady agreed to substitute the blue cheese for cheddar. The burger was quite rare to one side and it didn't look quite cooked to my mind. However, my partner begged to differ and said it was just very rare. Rather him than me! He reported that the burger itself was very tasty, but the bread roll was rather average tasting. He enjoyed the onion rings which were large and very obviously homemade. The salad garnish served with the burger was very nice and the fries nice and crispy.
Desserts were chalked up a small blackboard and there was a choice of about 5 or 6 different puddings. We were tempted to order a couple, but the landlady had now been distracted by the number of new arrivals to the pub wanting to enjoy the live music. Sadly there did not seem to be enough staff on hand to deal with all the newly arrived drinkers and those still eating in the restaurant. After a ten minute wait, we decided against ordering puddings in the end and asked for the bill instead. However, if you visit on a quieter night then the selection of puds consisted of things like Anglesey Mess (their version of Eton Mess), Apple and Pear Crumble, Banana and Chocolate Sundae, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Bread and Butter Pudding and Chocolate Brownie. All the desserts are priced at £6.50.
*** SERVICE, DRINKS AND EVERYTHING ELSE ***
The Anglesey Arms offers draught lager in the form of Becks and cider is produced by Stofford Press. Real ale lovers will be heaven as there are at least four different choices on offer, two of which change regularly. On the night we visited I spotted Young's Best Bitter, Black Sheep Ale and Havant Herd. Himself had three pints of Becks lager at £3.60 a pint and I made do with two halves of lager shandy as I was driving.
The service at the Anglesey Arms started off being brisk and efficient and reasonably friendly. However, as the pub got progressively busier the efficient service tailed off considerably and despite being asked if we'd like desserts, our order did not get taken as the landlady was obviously distracted by the number of drinkers that needed to be served in the bar. They really needed a third pair of hands in the bar to serve at the pumps as it was rather busy in there and they couldn't cope with demand.
In retrospect, we should not have dined there when they were holding a live music night. Despite being told it was taking place, I didn't appreciate it was being held in the restaurant nor quite how obtrusive the arrival of the band and their groupies was going to be. Although we were not seated by the door to the restaurant, we certainly didn't appreciate the cold draught from it being constantly opened and closed by the band arriving with their equipment. They appeared to have enough equipment to headline at Glastonbury! There were constant trips to and from their van with various amps, instruments and speakers all of which brushed past our table. Once all the equipment was unloaded, we had various hangers-on and groupies loitering by our table waiting for the band to start. We left as soon as we could as we get fed up with the constant interruptions and traffic by our formerly quiet table.
Our bill for the evening came to £54.90 for two starters, two main courses and five drinks, which represents reasonably good value. However, we had our £30 Spirit FM voucher to apply against both the food and drink which brought the final cost down to a rather reasonable £24.90 and we left a £5 tip on top of that.
*** RECOMMENDED? ***
Whilst we were eagerly anticipating revisiting an old haunt, we never imagined it would be exactly as we left it in 1997! The pub décor and layout was totally unchanged and it was just like taking a step back in time. The only thing that had altered was the menu and the owners. We were sad to see the demise of their legendry fry-up from the menu, but to be fair it isn't the sort of dish you'd want for dinner anyway.
On the whole we enjoyed our meal, and certainly thought it was good enough value for the price we paid, bearing in mind our discount voucher from Spirit FM gave us £30 off the final bill. However, I don't really think that the venue, food or service was special enough to make a return visit at full price. Maybe I'm remembering the pub with the rose-tinted glasses from the past, but nowadays although the food was good enough, it certainly wasn't the keenly priced huge plates of food you used to get there in the 1990's. What was strange however was the décor remained totally unchanged...and it really does need to be freshened up!
Recommended....if you don't mind tatty (and the band aren't playing)
*** FURTHER DETAILS ***
The Anglesey Arms is located in the tiny village of Halnaker (pronounced Hanaker as the "l" is always silent. It's a handy way to sort a local from a tourist as a newcomer to the area doesn't realise that the "l" is never used!). Halnaker is about four miles from Goodwood Racecouse and less than two miles from Goodwood House. The pub is on the A285 Chichester-Petworth road, which follows the course of old Roman Stane Street. Chichester is less than 4 miles in one direction and Petworth 11 miles in the other. Halnaker is famous for its disused windmill which sits high on the hill over the village and is thought to date from the 1740's. It's a fairly steep and robust climb, but it's definitely worth a walk up the hill to view up close...and reward yourself with a pint afterwards. As well as the windmill, Halnaker is a hop skip and a jump from Boxgrove which is home to Boxgrove Priory (dating from the early 12th century) and the famous Boxgrove archaeological site where Boxgrove Man was found in 1993 (a 500,000 year-old shin bone belonging to a rather robust man believed to be over 1.8m tall).
The Anglesey Arms
Telephone No: 01243 773474
Read the complete review
The White Hart (West Sussex)
Earlier this year my mother celebrated her 74th birthday, and announced that she didn't want a great deal of fuss made about the fact she was getting so old. We therefore decided to pander to her request, and keep things low key. My local radio station, Spirit FM, runs a weekly promotion called "Half Price Dining" where they ... feature a local restaurant or pub and offer you a chance to buy a limited number of discount vouchers. The White Hart was featured very recently, and we decided it was low key and laid back enough to qualify as a suitable venue for the birthday celebrations. For £15 we were able to buy a voucher from Spirit FM giving us £30 off the bill.
It had been more years than I can remember since I'd last been to the White Hart at Stopham, but it had been somewhere I'd visited fairly regularly in my youth. The pub is situated in delightful location on the banks of the River Arun and beside the rather picturesque and ancient stone built Stopham Bridge, which is now closed to traffic **. The pub garden in particular is a very popular place for a summer time drink beside the river. Indeed the last time I visited the White Hart was on a blazing hot summer day, and the garden was absolutely packed. I can remember being forced to hide at the bottom of the garden in embarrassment. Why? Unfortunately the local Morris Men were visiting the pub and looking for volunteers to join their merry band for a dance. My mother shows no shame in joining in with that sort of capper and duly stepped forward....hence our fleeing to the bottom of the pub garden in an attempt to disown her.
As last week's visit was on a dark night in mid February, the garden was out of bounds (and there were no lurking Morris Men in sight this time either thank goodness!). Sadly it was also too dark to see anything much of the bridge or the river below, so we headed straight inside the pub.
~~~ THE VENUE - HART OF HARTS ~~~
The pub dates from the 17th century and it was once obviously several riverside dwellings which have been knocked through to form one long low slung building. The pub is all on different levels so you climb up several steps to reach the front door and then once inside step down into the restaurant. Inside it's all quite cosy with a cheerful warming and welcoming fireplace. The ceiling is studded throughout with ancient beams, but the décor is a little tired to be honest. The carpet is a rather lurid swirly pattern - the sort you see in your granny's bungalow. It's not so much shabby chic here, but more tired and lived in. Nonetheless the place does have a certain charm, and the welcome we received upon entering was excellent.
Evidently the place has recently been taken over by a new couple, and they were as keen as mustard to ensure we enjoyed our evening with them. There are a variety of special deals on offer all of which are obviously to encourage local people out of their front rooms watching TV and into the White Hart for a pie and pint. Things like "Monday Blues" where you can have a pint of Carlsberg or a pint of Sharps Doom Bar for £2.50 on a Monday night. They also run regular live music nights, quiz nights and "open mic" evenings. Finally they offer a two-course menu for just £9.95 on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. All in all, they're doing a lot to encourage people to use their local boozer and I hope it takes off for them and their efforts pay off. We've all seen so many local pubs shut their doors in the last 10-15 years and it would be a shame to see this charming hostelry go the same way.
The pub has an unpretentious and relaxed air to it and it's definitely a place where you'd feel equally as welcome if you just wanted a drink rather than a meal. We visited on a Sunday evening and the pub was fairly quiet. There were a few drinkers in the bar and a few lone diners, but that was the extent of it. I would imagine they were quite grateful to have our reservation for a party of six as it made the place look a lot busier.
~~~ THE FOOD - EAT YOUR HART OUT? ~~~
The White Hart serves food all day every day and there is a good range of dishes to suit every budget. Indeed the most expensive main course on offer comes in at just under £15, which is rather reasonable in this part of the world. The White Hart is most definitely a pub-pub and has no gastro-pub pretensions. The food is mostly all good hearty pub fare and priced with a keen eye to attracting punters through the door. The lunch menu offers a range of Filled Baguettes (from £7), Pizzas (£7 to £12) and Ploughmans (£8.45) as well as heartier dishes in the form of perennial favourites such as Scampi, Macaroni Cheese, Lasagne, Fish and Chips or Burger and Fries (from around £7 up to the £11 mark).
The dinner menu is slightly more interesting and has matching prices. Starters are all around the £5 to £7 mark with dishes like Green Lip Mussels, Butterfly Breaded King Prawns or Asparagus Spears. Main courses start at £8 ( Ham, Egg and Chips, Homemade Fish Pie and Crab Bake) and go up to just under £15 (dishes such as Sirloin Steak, Roasted Pork Belly and Loin of Cod). Desserts are all homemade and cost a reasonable £4.50 each. In addition to the printed menu, there is a beautifully chalked up blackboard in the bar which lists the daily specials on offer. On the night we visited this comprised of two starters and about four main courses.
~~~ OUR MEAL - HAVE A HART ~~~
We rang up the day before to ask if they could accommodate a party of six on a Sunday night and if it would be acceptable to use a Spirit FM discount voucher. I didn't want to buy the voucher unless they were happy to accept it. However, they said it was fine provided we called them back with the voucher code, which I duly did.
Once we'd ordered drinks at the bar, we were shown through to our table in the restaurant. The table had plenty of A5 size laminated menus to peruse and we also had our attention drawn to the specials blackboard in the bar. Once we'd made up our minds, the landlady came and took our order.
We ordered four portions of Pan Seared Garlic Chicken Goujons at £5.95. However, our server came back almost straight away and informed us they only had enough for three portions, so my father decided to choose something else. The landlady was most apologetic and came up with several recommendations as to what he might prefer. In the end he had something that was not on the menu which was Carpaccio of Beef. Carpaccio is very thinly sliced and marinated raw beef and my father's beef was draped over a lovely fresh mixed salad and garnished finely grated parmesan. He thoroughly enjoyed it, and we were all quite envious of his dish as the chicken goujons weren't all that special. To my mind a goujon is a thin strip of meat coated in breadcrumbs and fried until crispy on the outside. The goujons at the White Hart were strips of chicken which had been lightly fried, but not pan seared, and had no breadcrumb topping. The chicken didn't much taste of anything and I was slightly disappointed with it. If there wasn't going to be any breadcrumb coating, I would expect the chicken to have been marinated in something to give it some depth of flavour. The chicken strips were garnished with a mixed salad, some kind of oily dressing and some lardons. A perfectly presented dish, but one that lacked flavour I'm afraid.
For our main course several of our party quite fancied the Veal Escalope served on Bubble and Squeak with thinly sliced French Beans from the specials blackboard. However, almost as soon as we ordered it we were told they'd just sold the last portion. This was more than a little strange, as the landlady had just discussed the full range of specials with us and had not pointed out that the veal was running low. Added to which, the pub was more than a little quiet, and I didn't spot anyone else at the same stage of their meal as we were. Perhaps the kitchen had done a quick scratch and sniff and decided that the veal no longer passed muster, as there was no way anyone else had just ordered it! No matter, we swiftly returned the menu to choose alternative dishes.
In the end we all chose different things. I had Lamb Steak with Redcurrant Jus at £14.95. This was a nicely sized portion of lamb steak presented in a bowl of gravy. Despite a lack of garnish it was a flavoursome piece of meat, just a bit boring looking, and lacked any hint of redcurrant flavouring. It was altogether too brown and could have done with a sprig of green mint or a couple of red berries to make it more pleasing to the eye. It came accompanied by an individual dish of vegetable consisting of cauliflower, carrots and one of my favourites, braised red cabbage. The dish was supposed to have new potatoes with it, but I asked if I could have chips instead. These were simply delicious - crispy to the outside and fluffy inside.
My partner had Royal Windsor Pork Escalope at £12.95 which I was once again expecting to be coated in breadcrumbs. I always expect an escalope dish to be a flattened thin piece of meat coated in breadcrumbs, but they had other ideas at the White Hart. This was a fairly thick piece of pork which had been pan-fried and then served in a creamy mushroom sauce. It was a tasty enough dish, just not what either I or my partner expected, and he was also disappointed with the smallness of the meat portion. My mother chose her dish off the Specials Blackboard as this one was still available. She had Salmon and Prawn Linguine with Garlic Bread which was a goodly portion of linguine pasta flecked with lots of pieces of flaked salmon and small prawns. It was all bound together with a creamy sauce and garnished with grated parmesan and a huge piece of garlic bread. She enjoyed this dish but struggled to finish it as serving both pasta and bread with this dish was a bit too much for her. I suspect she would have preferred a small side salad as a side dish rather than the garlic bread.
My father and my brother both chose Barbecue Ribs with Mixed Salad and French Fries at £11.95. This was a fairly small portion it has to be said, and I think my brother was disappointed there were so few ribs on his plate. However, they both pronounced the barbecue sauce as delicious, and it certainly did look good. Finally, my sister-in-law went for a Baked Cod with Vegetables dish which was also off the Specials Blackboard, which she thoroughly enjoyed. I didn't get much of a look at this dish as she was at the opposite side of the table to me.
We had all spotted a rather tempting looking blackboard of desserts all priced at a reasonable £4.50. Again, the landlady was very good at running through the list and explaining what some of them were. My partner plumped for a dish described as Bonne Femme, which was basically chocolate mousse. He didn't really enjoy his choice all that much as he felt it was rather on the elderly side and had been hanging around in the kitchen rather too long :o( My mother and I both had Marbled Chocolate Pyramid which was a beautifully presented dessert. Thin tranches of marbled white and milk chocolate were stood up on the plate to form a pyramid shape and inside was a chocolate mousse filling. It was such a work of art it was a shame to eat it! My brother and sister-in-law shared a Winter Berry Trifle, which was so nice they wished they'd ordered one apiece rather than sharing. Other dishes on the dessert blackboard were Sticky Toffee Pudding, White Hart Cheesecake, Apple and Blackberry Crumble, Treacle Sponge Pudding and Melting Middle Chocolate Pudding.
~~~ SERVICE AND DRINKS - TAKE HART ~~~
The White Hart offers Fosters draught lager, Stowford Press cider and others. Real ale lovers can sup on Harveys Best, Sharps Doom Bar and various guest ales. My father and brother each enjoyed a pint of Sharps Doom Bar before moving onto a bottle of red wine, but my partner and I stuck to Fosters. I was designated driver for the evening so I made my half of lager shandy last all night (and it was a good job I had no more than a shandy as the drive back home over the South Downs was rather fraught with hazards....at two separate points groups of deer ran out onto the road in front the car causing me to swerve).
The service at the White Hart was very friendly. I believe we were served by the new landlady herself and she couldn't do enough for us. She was most apologetic when they ran out of several specials from the blackboard and really helpful in suggesting alternative dishes. We were looked after most attentitively throughout the entire evening and nothing was too much trouble. The service was swift and drinks were fetched from the bar and brought to our table without a murmur, which was nice (far too many pubs can get a bit sniffy about fetching drinks to you and encourage diners to go up to the bar and get their own). All of our dishes - starters, main courses and puddings - arrived after a wait of only 10 to 15 minutes at the most.
Initially I did find the pub warm and welcoming due to the blazing fire in the bar, but when we moved through to the dining area, I found it a bit chilly. There was a wood burning stove in this room, but none of the heat from it was reaching me. However, I was seated at the end of the table nearest the door so I guess it was just bad luck on my part. Afterall no one felt the cold in there - it was just me :o(
One thing to note at this pub is that there are more than a few steps to manoeuvre. Being so near a river, one suspects that they have had more than their fair share of flooding problems over the centuries. Therefore there are a range of quite steep steps to climb to enter the pub itself. Once inside, the pub is split over several different levels, and to get to the toilets one needs to go up another couple of steps. Therefore, I suspect this is not the best of venues for the disabled or your elderly grandparents simply as it's rather bumpy terrain to manage. And talking of the toilets, they're clean and functional, but rather dated inside. Clipped tiles and rather ancient carpet are the order of the day here, so not a place to linger in really.
Our bill came to just shy of £150, but with our handy £30 discount voucher it landed up being £119. We all paid £44 apiece to include a tip. I think that £119 for 4 x starters, 6 x main courses, 4 x desserts, a bottle of red wine and a couple of rounds of drinks was fairly good value here considering the quality of the food and service.
~~~ RECOMMENDATION - HART TO HART ~~~
We all enjoyed our evening out at the White Hart, and my mother certainly enjoyed her low key birthday celebrations. The food was very good and the service superb. Although we were disappointed with their running out of several specials, the alternative suggestions were just as good and any regrets quickly forgotten.
I'd certainly like to return to the White Hart again as there was more than enough on their menu to tempt me to a return visit. The prices were reasonable and the food well cooked and presented. I think a return visit on a warm summer's evening could well be on the cards. The garden at the White Hart is truly delightful and there's nothing nicer than sipping a Pimm's beside the river on a hot day....providing those godamn Morris Men don't make an appearance of course....
~~~ FURTHER DETAILS - HART AND SOUL ~~~
Stopham is not really a village, just a collection of one or two houses, the pub, a garden centre, an ancient bridge and the new bridge which replaced the ancient one in 1986. The pub is just off the A283 which is the main road between the village of Pulborough and the town of Petworth. The pub has plenty of car parking opposite the pub.
** Even if you don't want to visit the pub, Stopham Bridge itself is a rather stunning Scheduled Ancient Monument, and well worth a visit. There has been a bridge on this site since the 1300's with the first stone version dating from 1442 (probably with a wooden drawbridge to allow boats to pass). Over the centuries the bridge has been extensively repaired and reconstructed with a central arch added in 1822 to provide the extra clearance needed for the more heavily laden barges of the industrial revolution. The bridge remained part of the main road until 1986 when it was finally decommissioned by a brand new metal construction just a little further upstream. I can well remember driving over the ancient bridge in my younger days as the traffic lights they installed used to take an age as the bridge was too narrow to allow vehicles to pass on it. Nowadays the bridge is closed to all traffic, but it's a super place to stop and admire the views, and enjoy a quiet pint in the lovely gardens at the White Hart which overlook the river and the bridge. It's also a good starting or stopping point for a super river side walk alongside the River Arun in the area. More details can be found at http://myriverarun.com/houghton_to_stoph​am.html
The White Hart
Telephone No: 01798-873321
* Food is served all day, every day
* Opening hours are 10am to 11pm with an 11.30pm closing on Friday and Saturday and 10.30pm closing on Sunday
Read the complete review
Absolut Ice Bar (London)
Why the Ice Bar? = = = = = = = = My boyfriend's 30th birthday was coming up and I knew he wanted to go to the Ice Bar at some point. Our mission this year was to go to as many places as we could to visit and although it's the end of April already we haven't really had the chance to visit many places. As a birthday present, I ... decided that I would take my boyfriend to London for the day where we would go somewhere for a meal and then go to the Ice Bar so we could both experience what it was like here. Some of my friends have been to the Ice Bar and I love the look of it and as we both booked a day off work I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to go.
About Ice Bar
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The Ice Bar is exactly what it sounds like because everything is made from Ice. The walls, bar, tables and even your own glass are made from the purest ice. This is the only UK's permanent bar made of ice and is kept at -5c all year round. Everything in the bar is made out of crystal clear glass and harvested especially from the frozen Torne River in Jukkasjarvi, Northern Sweden. Each visit in the Ice Bar is 40 mins long and includes a free drink which you can enjoy in the Ice bar. You will be given your own designer thermal cape with a good and gloves to keep you warm during your visit. Once a year the bar is completely transformed with a new design theme and layout by a team of skilled ice designer and sculptors. Every design is different from the next and each year they eagerly anticipate the results of the wonderful artistic transformation. I loved the sound of visiting the bar and couldn't wait to go here with my boyfriend. You can wear whatever clothing you wish in the Ice bar but they do suggest warm clothing. You can wear open toed shoes; how-ever your feet may get rather chilly from this.
Booking the Ice Bar
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If you are planning a visit to the Ice Bar they advise you to book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment as you may not be able to get in if you just turn up on the day/night. I was planning on booking tickets anyway as I wanted to ensure that we could get into the Bar and I also wanted a time for as soon as they opened. You can only book tickets up to 28 days in advance so I had to wait until then to book the tickets. I actually went onto their website to book 2 tickets, one for my boyfriend and the other for me. Each ticket allows you 40mins into the Ice Bar and this comes with a drink a cocktail of your choice which you can order from the bar. When booking the ticket you need to simply choose how many people you want to book and the time you would like to visit the bar. It does state that you should arrive at least 15mins before your booking time to ensure you can get caped up before entering the bar. I paid for the tickets online which cost me £12.50. If I hadn't of booked tickets in advance it would have cost me £14.oo each for the tickets. Please note that the prices of tickets are slightly more expensive on a Friday and Saturday night. After making the booking I received a confirmation e-mail stating the date and time of the book and it also included other information such as how to get to the bar and what to expect when you get there. It did state that on arrival there may be a queue which is nothing to worry about; this is just in order to get everyone caped up ready for their time in the bar. I double checked all the information and decided to print the e-mail off to take with me just in case as there was a booking number on the e-mail. At least if I had it with me I could show them the e-mail if there were any problems.
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With your visit you get your first drink for free and you can then purchase additional drinks for around £6.50. You can purchase Non Alcoholic refills for £3.00 and you also have the choice to purchase a new Ice Glass for £4.00. Some of the alcoholic drinks include the following:
* Gin - Galactic Frontiers, Solar Flare.
* Rum - Ice bar Mojito, Voyager.
* Bourbon - Curiosity, The Big Bang.
* Tequila - Mercury Rising, Red Planet.
* Non-Alcoholic - Endor, Halley's Comet.
* Vodka - Down to Earth, Titan, Apollo 11.
* Champagne - Hubble Bubble, Zero Gravity, Stardust.
* Premium - Starlight, Enterprise, Armstrong, Mars Rover, Jumping Jupiter.
You can find out the ingredients of the different drinks on their website. The names and variations of the drinks are likely to change every year due to the different themes they have in the Ice Bar.
Arriving at the Ice Bar
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The outside of the Ice bar has mainly black exterior with some tables and chairs outside, it looked very clean and also an expensive bar to visit. There was a roped off area which took you to a reception desk if you had a session booked or you could avoid the roped off area and just go into the top bar for a drink or head down the Restaurant which is located downstairs. When we arrived at the Ice Bar we went to the reception desk where I told the girl there that we had a booking for 2:45, although we were about 30mins early. She told us that was fine and printed off 2 tickets for us and told us we needed to keep hold of them to get our free drink once we were in the Ice Bar. She pointed to an area where we could sit and wait for our session. This area was really comfortable with long sofas and chairs with tables. There was also a bar so you could have a drink whilst you were waiting. The bar here served a range of cocktails, wine's and champagne. They don't sell beer here. I didn't want a drink but my boyfriend purchased a drink which cost him over £7.00. At around 2:40ish we were called by a male member of staff to form a queue in the roped off area. He ran through some information with us such as what not to do in the ice bar.
We were told that we were going to be given a Poncho to wear in the ice bar which has gloves attached to keep us warm. He told us to use the gloves as it was going to be cold inside the Ice Bar (-8◦). He also told us to be careful when placing our ice glasses down as the surfaces can be a little slippery. He also told us not to smash the glasses or to scratch anything into any of the walls or other objects in the Ice bar. He advises anyone to pop to the toilet before entering the Ice Bar as there are no toilets once you are inside the Ice Bar. The toilets are located downstairs and are very clean and tidy. I can't fault the toilets in any way. One by one we had to step forwards where a Poncho would be thrown over the top of our heads which is when we could enter the Ice Bar. It only took a few seconds for each person to get their poncho on and ready to enter the Ice Bar. The poncho's are a metallic blue colour and have a hood which has a fake fur trim around the edge.
Inside the Ice Bar
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You will walk through 2 sets of automatic doors which open as you walk towards them. This takes you into the Ice Bar where you can immediately feel the cold against your cheeks and hands if you haven't already put your gloves on. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the array of beautiful colours and lights in the bar which included blues and purples. The first thing I noticed was a tall block of ice which had a globed carved into it; this looked amazing from lots of different angles. The 2nd thing I noticed was how small the room actually was. I was expecting a slightly bigger room and was a little surprised at this as it looked slightly bigger in other photo's that I have seen. Everyone headed over to the bar area which was very large and looked stunning made out of ice. There was a forest/tree design on the bottom of the bar which looked beautiful as it was lit up in a very light blue colour. There was a few drink menus' on the bar where you could choose your drink.
There was one bar man behind the bar whom took the drink orders from you and then you would hand your ticket over which you originally got when first entering the location. The drink sizes are rather small, how-ever I found them quite strong and actually only managed to drink half of mine and then gave the rest to my boyfriend. The ice glasses the drinks are served in are square in shape and although it looked rather hard to drink out of the ice glass it was easier than I expected. It was much easier to hold the ice glass with your gloves on as the glass can get rather slippery and also very cold in your bare hands. We moved away from the bar area and took a good look around. There was a seating area over to the right where at least 5 people could sit. The seats have cushions on but are made from ice and the table is also made from ice. This area got full up pretty quickly so me and my boyfriend stood for a little while on one side of the room which has a shelf where you can place your drink.
There was an ice sculpture which had various holes in in which looked great when a picture was taken from the other side as you could see your reflection in the ice. There was also a little bit which I called an igloo which you could walk inside. (You had to crouch down to get inside). This area was quite good, but could only fit about 2 people in at a time. Me and my boyfriend liked this area as it lit up different colours and gave a slightly strange illusion to your body when taking a picture from the other side. There was another small seating area which was up 2 small steps and lit up in different colours. In this area you could see a range if drink bottles behind some ice which looked really good. This gave the illusion that the bottles of drink were actually in the ice walls. This seating area had a moon in the corner which lit up. There was lots of detailing on the walls in this area and it looked stunning. We couldn't get into this area as the people who first came into the bar seemed to hog this area for the whole session which was slightly annoying and also rather unfair. You could easily get at least 6 people in this area.
You could tell how cold it was in the Ice Bar as although the floor is metal it feels slightly sticky from where your feet stick to it a little due to the cold. There were at least 20 of us in the Ice Bar during the session and although the area is smaller than I expected it doesn't get too cramped which is good. The poncho's which they give us to wear help to keep you warm during your visit and they are comfortable to wear. As the poncho doesn't have sleeves it's easy to move your arms about. I did find that your ears and face can get a little cold so I wore the hood to the poncho up during my visit. The gloves that are attached to the Poncho are thick and these keep your hands really warm and give you a good grip when holding your ice glass. We got chatting to the bar man whom was serving the drinks and he told us how the design of the Ice Bar changes every year. He also tells us that every 2 months the top of the Ice bar gets re-made. If you don't wish to stay in the Ice Bar for the full 40mins you can cleave when you wish simply by pressing the button next to the automatic doors. When you walk out someone will be there to take your poncho off you and you can then leave the location. Me and my boyfriend stayed in here for at least 25mins before we decided to leave. Some people left the bar after about 15mins which we were a little surprised at.
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I couldn't wait to visit the Ice Bar and once we got to the location and my boyfriend knew we were going inside he was also looking forwards to it as well. In terms of size the Ice Bar is smaller than I imagined and I was a little disappointed by this. Once in the Ice Bar we were amazed by the Ice Walls, Ice Bar and different carvings in the room. Me and my boyfriend really enjoyed looking at the details on the walls which lit up different colours throughout our session here. Although the seating areas get taken up quickly, me and my boyfriend were happy to stand as we wanted to look around the whole Bar anyway rather than just staying in one place for the whole session. The range of cocktails in the Ice Bar was reasonable but I found them quite strong. I loved the ice glass which we had to drink from which was so different to drinking out of a normal glass. The ponchos did a really good job of keeping us warm and the gloves were nice and warm as well. Although we were a little shocked at how small the Ice Bar actually was we really enjoyed our experience here and would definitely visit here again maybe in about 1 year's time when there are new carvings and designs on the walls of the Ice Bar. I would definitely recommend other people to visit here as it's a really good experience and you will be amazed at the fact that everything inside the Ice Bar is made and carved from Ice, it's really fascinating and actually really hard to believe. You can purchase some Ice Bar merchandise such as a candle holder, t-shirt and even a glass which looks like the Ice Glass you drank out of when you were in the Ice Bar. I can't really fault anything about my experience here as it was fantastic.
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Address: 31-33 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4BN
Phone: 020 7478 8910
Directions - As the Ice Bar is in London it's probably best to use public transport to get here. From London Waterloo you need to get on the underground (Baker Loo Line) towards Queens Park. Get off at Piccadilly Circus (3rd stop) and then walk to the Ice Bar which will take about 5 minutes.
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