This review is about the Cricketers Arms pub and restaurant in Berwick Village, just outside of Eastbourne .
I don't live in Eastbourne, I do however have a boyfriend who does, which is great for getting a little sunshine holiday on the South Coast . This may, it came around the to the dreaded 'Meeting his parents' stage, and I had no idea what to expect, and with me being the first real girlfriend he'd had, he couldn't give me any advice . Luckily it all went well, I turned up with a bottle of Rosé in one hand, my daughter holding onto the other and clutching a box of Ferrerro Rocher . Now, his parents like to go to pubs for traditional pub meals, and we did this a fair few times in the week I stayed there . However, out of the places we visited, it is the Cricketers that really stands out .
Getting to the cricketers from the main area of Eastbourne isn't too bad- Berwick Village is signposted, and the pub is on one of the main roads leading to the village . The journey down is very scenic - magnificent downlands, rolling hills, sheep and lambs, and I even got a sight of the Long Man of Wilmington .
The pub itself is in a very quiet location - so quiet, it might as well be plonked right in the middle of the patchwork of fields covering this end of the country . And, indeed, although the main road is only a little way away , sheltered hedges block out any noise . The pub has a small carpark, with space for about 10 cars .
A traditional flint stone cottage, covered in climbing vine's, the pub looks the way a country pub should look - as if it's been there for years, blending seamlessly into the countryside surrounding it . The best word to describe this place is quaint . The scented gardens are full of colourful flowers, with plenty of outside seating, and grass for kids to run around on .
Kid's are not allowed in the bar, but are allowed in the restaurant area . As we weren't too hungry when we arrived, we asked to have a table in the restaurant put aside for us, and enjoyed a couple of leisurely pints in the gardens . There were plenty of families there, enjoying the sunshine , and a rather regal looking dog taking sips of beer out of his own little bowl.
Drinks wise, this pub has all the standards, as well as beers from a local brewery, Harveys of Lewes. This brewery is a pretty big deal down in Sussex, and a lot of pubs seem to sell their beers - and very good they are too . I was drinking Harveys Best, which was poured straight out of the barrel, aand was creamy, rich, and tangy with hoppy citrus flavours.
While we were drinking we browsed the menu , which offered up such tempting delights as Fresh Dressed Crab Salad, Caramelized Red Onion, Tomato, Basil & Brie Tart, and Crispy Whitebais . We also looked at the specials menu for the day , and this is where we found our food .
Between the five of us, we had 2 Steak, Stilton, and Mushroom Warm Salads, 1 Swordfish Steak, 1 Home-made Beef Burger, and a small portion of Ham Egg and Chips . They don't do childrens portions, but were more than willing to do us a smaller version of the ham egg and chips at a cheaper price .
We then sat back down outside with out pints, and the barmaid fetched us in when the food was ready .
The restaurant area is very traditional - tongue and groove panelling, candles rammed into the tops of empty wine bottles, old solid wooden tables scratched and ringed with years of use .
The meals were well presented on simple white crockery. My steak salad was delicious, although I found the steak a little tough . I think it could perhaps have done with a couple of whacks of a tenderising hammer. The balance of flavours was just right though - just enough Stilton to be able to taste it, without it overwhelming the steak flavour . The salad was crispy and fresh, and the portion was certainly generous.
My daughter was not entirely pleased with her ham egg and chips - while she loved the egg and chips, she didn't like the ham . A quick taste got to the heart of the problem - it was real, good quality honey cured ham, and my daughter is much more at home with the processed wet ham.
My boyfriends swordfish was perfectly cooked, and served with salad, chips, and a fresh salsa verde, which was delicately herbed and complimented the fish perfectly - although he then proceeded to smother it with Tartare Sauce!
My boyfriends dad had a burger, which while plain and simple, he pronounced good quality, and my boyfriends mum had the same meal as me, and also had issues with the steak being a tad too chewy .
My daughter, my boyfriend, and I went on to have desserts. My daughter opted for Mint Ice Cream, which she very much enjoyed . I opted fgor a home-made treacle tart, served warm with creamy vanilla ice-cream and drizzled with a warm lemon syrup. It was rich and satisfying, although I would have preferred for the lemon syrup to be served on the side . It did slightly overpower the treacle flavour of the tart .
My boyfriend had a plump fluffy belgian waffle with ice cream and maple syrup. I couldn't resist stealing a bit, it was delicious .
The service throughout was friendly and unobtrusive, the pub was very clean and hygeinic, and the ladies toilets, although a little cramped and narrow were spotless .
Overall, I really enjoyed dining there , barring the fact that the steak was a little chewy . It was only a slight issue though, and the meal was still delicious and filling, and I definitely hope to make a return visit on my next trip down to Eastbourne, and perhaps try some more of the excellent Harveys beers straight from the barrel .
First trip to Eastbourne and the cafe looked very appealing in the sunshine - but - what looked like a really exciting menu holds horror. Belgian shrimp croquettes are in fact a sloshy mess of sauce and a few shrimps coated in some form of ??? which had been deep fried in very very old oil which brought to the dish a unique taste!!!! The middle of the tiny croquette was cold ! Could not believe it. Similarly the calamari tasted and looked exactly the same - dark brown. When looking at tables around us the chips (frites) all had the same dark brown colour. So on to the catch of the day. Looked lovely but yes a deep fried rubber band was found in amongst the fish. I was told that the parsley came wrapped in a rubber band and obviously they had just stuck it in the same old oil and cooked it! I would also warn about the still water - it stank of the briny sea!!! I will not go there again and there was no form of compensation offered. Also the white wine was not cold - not even chilled.
Situated on the seafront in Eastbourne, this delightful little restaurant brings a little bit of the continent to the East Sussex coast. Cafe Belge does as much as it can to recreate a little corner of Belgium. There are images of TinTin adorning the walls, as well as advertisements and icons for the many Belgian beers which are served. If it's Moules and Frites, with lashings of Belgian beer that you're after, then you're in for a treat. The menu has an entire page devoted to Mussels. You can have them served in just about any way imaginable, with all sorts of different ingredients, there's bound to be something to take your fancy. There's the more traditional creamy, white wine sauces, and the more exotic fruity combinations. Your chips will come served in the traditional Belgian way - with a dollop of mayonnaise on top. When I say a dollop, I mean a huge dollop, probably containing enough fat to account for your daily intake in itself. The mussels also come with fresh crusty bread and butter. For anyone who doesn't like mussels, there are other options, although probably only 10 or so. These range from spinach and prawn tagliatelle in creamy sauce, to a traditional beef stew with vegetables and mashed potato, or perhaps a duck salad. You'll find something palatable. Portions are very reasonable, so you probably won't need a starter, but there is a good range, from soup to garlic mushrooms to fried whitebait. The restaurant itself looks very attractive at night time. It is dimly lit with candles on each table. The floor is modern wooden and the decor is attractive and new. There are several things which let the restaurant down slightly. The old wooden church chairs - the type with the kneeling cushions slotted into the back (many of which are still there) - which really are not the most comfortable things to sit on to enjoy a meal. The wipe clean table cloths. The paper
napkins. It's not just me being snobby! - the standard of the food is excellent and the vinyl table cloths just don't do the restaurant justice! Onto the beers! There are over 50 different types served! These range from white beers, to golden ales, to fruity beers, to traditional lagers - the list goes on! They have come up with a great marketing plan to sell lots of beer - a belgian beer drinking passport. This is a piece of card with 50 beers on. With each drink you have, you get your passport stamped/signed. You earn prizes along the way. For example, once you have the first 11 beers signed off, you get a free 1/2 draught. At 23 beers you get a Buy 1 Get 1 Free offer. At 26 you earn a free mussel starter. 33 beers signed off gives you a free fruit beer, while 46 beers will result in a free desert. Once you passport is complete, having had all 50 beers, you are entitled to 2 free main courses. Most of the beers cost around £3 - £3.50, but a couple of them cost £10 or more!! You will have spent well over £200 by the time you get your 2 free main courses. Still, it could work out well if you use Cafe Belge as the restaurant that you go out to with friends, and always be the one who remembers your beer passport! Other prices are quite reasonable - starters being around £4-5, and main courses ranging from £8 to about £12-13. The toilets are situated downstairs, which is not so good for anyone with poor mobility. However, they are very clean. Staff are extremely pleasant and helpful, and deserve the 10% tip which is voluntarily added to your bill. So, for a pleasant meal out, you could do a lot worse than this place. In Eastbourne it's situated @ the Burlington, 11/23 Grand Parade - tel 01323 729967. There is another Cafe Belge in Bexhill-on-Sea at 45 The Marina - tel 01424 731513.