“ The Sussex Brewery / 36 Main Road / Emsworth PO10 8AU / Hampshire „
I had been to the Sussex Brewery a couple of times several years ago when I lived on the outskirts of Havant. My son, his partner and I ventured back there a couple of months ago one Sunday lunchtime, but alas it was full. We decided it might not be quite as busy on a Wednesday evening in June, and arrived just after 7pm. This time we were lucky, as only one table of the four in the dining area was occupied. We chose a table for four in the corner and a waitress brought menus. For drinks we ordered one pint and one half pint of orange juice, and a pineapple juice mixed with lemonade. We had a quick look at the specials board and then concentrated on the menu, as the brewery is known as "the home of the sausage," and we had come for the sausages.
There are six starters on the menu, including soup of the day (£4.95), baked camembert suitable for sharing (£7.95) and chilli nachos (£5.95). We didn't, however, want to spoil our appetites with starters. Other than sausages, main dishes range from ham, egg and chips (£8.95) through pork wellington (£10.95) to sirloin steak (£14.95). Vegetarians can choose between mushroom stroganoff and green Thai curry (both £8.95).
The Sussex Brewery serves seventeen varieties of O'Hagan's sausages as well as four kinds of vegetarian sausages. Sausage and mash with onions and gravy for one is £9.95, and there is a choice of peas, baked beans or mixed vegetables as an accompaniment. A platter for two is £19.50, thus saving 40p. I ordered the individual meal with one pork, ginger and coriander sausage (one of five gluten free varieties) and one lamb, honey and mustard sausage, plus mixed vegetables. My son and his partner had the platter for two with one Cumberland sausage, one Chichester ale, one lamb, honey and mustard and one drunken duck, which has duck, turkey, brandy and apples as ingredients. The drunken duck is one of five exotic varieties for which there is a 75p surcharge. They ordered peas with their platter.
While we were waiting for our food the dining room did start to get busier. A party of five women were accommodated at the largest table and another group of four at the last table. There is plenty of space between each table so private conversation is easily possible. The speaker in the corner near us was pumping out Aerosmith and Alice Cooper oldies, but the volume was not so loud as to be intrusive.
It wasn't an overly long wait for our main courses. My two sausages were served on top of the mash with onions and plenty of gravy. A dish of mixed vegetables was served separately and I was impressed by the variety; it included broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, parsnips and courgettes. I swapped a little for a few peas and thus had an even greater variety. The platter for two had the four sausages all labelled on their plate for easy identification. I have to say that we all thought the food was scrumptious. The sausages are among the best I have had anywhere. I couldn't, however, quite finish either of them or the mash, as the servings are so generous.
There are several desserts at £5.25 including honeycomb cheesecake and bread and butter pudding, several sundaes at £4.95, and a wide choice of New Forest ice cream flavours at £4.30. My son decided on an Eton mess sundae and his partner chose the sticky toffee pudding sundae. Being rather full already, I order a mint chocolate chip ice cream. The two sundaes came first, and I did begin to wonder if they had forgotten my ice cream. Eventually it came. As with the main course, we had no complaints, and as with my main course, I just couldn't quite finish my dessert. The sundaes did look a bit naughty, but my son pointed out that his did at least have some fruit in it! Excuses...
The ladies' toilet is reached via the pub area, which was quite crowded. One or two people were eating there too. There is just one cubicle in the ladies with a washbasin outside. It isn't ultra-modern, as you would expect in a traditional pub such as the Sussex Brewery, but it was clean enough and well supplied.
When I got back to our table, my son had just paid our bill by card; it came to £50.90 altogether. We left a tip in cash. The two waitresses who served us were polite and friendly and did their job efficiently. Perhaps the only criticism I could make is that two of the specials had sold out even though we arrived early in the evening. One of these was salmon en papillote which might have tempted me, but in truth you can't go wrong with O'Hagan's sausages.
Breakfast is also served at the Sussex Brewery, starting from £2.45 for butties and baguettes and going up to £9.95 for the Big Sussex Breakfast which is a huge full English served with a hot drink or fruit juice. Vegetarian options include bubble and squeak with poached eggs and fruit juice (£4.95) or toast with preserves and fruit juice (£2.95).
As well as sausages, there are fish dishes on the menu for lunch and dinner. Moules Marinieres in a Thai curry sauce are available as a starter (£5.95) or a main course with chips (£10.95). Fish and chips with mushy peas are £10.25, and there are daily specials too.
Lunchtime only offerings are around the £5-£6 mark and feature jacket potatoes, omelettes, ploughman's lunches, and sandwiches and baguettes. Vegetarian choices are available for each of these. The main menu is served at lunchtime too.
There are four main courses, each £5.50, on the children's menu, but no vegetarian options unless the veggie sausages are offered. Desserts are either ice cream (£3.50) or chocolate brownie with ice cream (£4.25).
The Sussex Brewery is in fact only just inside West Sussex, as it is situated on the eastern outskirts of the town of Emsworth which is actually in Hampshire. It is within easy reach of Havant and Chichester, and about ten miles from Portsmouth. As well as the pub and the dining room there is an outdoor area, and there is a car park. Any devotee of sausage and mash should seriously consider making a visit, and it might be advisable to book a table.
The Sussex Brewery serves breakfast on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and most Bank Holidays from 9am to 11am. Groups can book midweek breakfasts in advance.
Lunch is from noon to 2.30pm Monday to Saturday, and from noon to 6pm on Sunday, or 8pm on Bank Holiday weekends.
Dinner is from 6.30pm to 9.30pm.
The Sussex Brewery
36 Main Road
Tel. 01243 371533