“ Address: Oldwick Farm / West Stoke Road / Chichester / West Sussex / PO18 9AA „
I first visited Wellies back in 2009 on a works lunch do. I was thoroughly impressed with both the food and the venue, and couldn't believe that a restaurant located in the comparative depth of the countryside was so busy at lunchtime. We were lucky to find a table that lunchtime, such was the popularity of the place. Why it took me four years to make a return visit I really can't explain; too many venues not enough time I guess.
Since my 2009 lunchtime visit, Wellies have started opening for evening meals three nights a week. With my partner's birthday approaching I decided it would make a great place for a birthday dinner, and duly booked a table for 7.30pm on a Saturday night three weeks in advance. I was hoping that it would yet again live up to its charms.
~~ THE VENUE ~~
Wellies is rather off the beaten track and slap bang in the middle of the countryside. The restaurant is housed in a lovely flint built barn conversion and has delightful views of the countryside. There is also a farm next door to Wellies so the smell of the countryside is never far from your nostrils - mainly if the cows are being especially lacking in the pleasant fragrance department! The restaurant is in a little conclave with a few other country stores such as Oldwick Saddlery, a dog grooming service and Le Maquillage Beauty Salon.
There is plenty of free parking outside Wellies, but the road it is situated on is so quiet you could park on the verge outside without a problem should the car park be full. Outside Wellies are a pair of flower filled green Hunter Wellington boots which I thought was a charming touch and rather eye-catching. You enter Wellies through a pair of large glass fronted double doors and walk straight into the main restaurant. There is a counter to one side with a till and a blackboard detailing the daily specials. The predominant feeling to Wellies is one of space, light and airiness. Like so many barn conversions it's all been done out in oak, and this is followed through with oak tables and chairs throughout the venue. To one side of the barn is a chunky oak-hewn staircase which leads to a small mezzanine level with further dining space of approximately 4 or 5 tables. I ate up there when I first visited Wellies in 2009. However, I must say that I preferred our ground floor table when we ate there last week. It was much lighter and brighter on the ground floor and had much nicer views. If it had been a warmer night then we could have eaten outside as Wellies had a lovely sunny terraced area with 3 or 4 tables. Definitely one to book mark for the summer months when dining al fresco becomes somewhat of the less than remote possibility it is at the moment.
~~ THE MENU ~~
Wellies describes itself as both a restaurant and a tea room, and I guess that's because it offers a little bit of everything for everyone. It serves breakfast everyday from 9am to 12.00pm, as well as morning coffee and cakes. Lunch is served seven days a week, as is afternoon tea. However, it also opens its doors three nights a week for evening meals. I must say that the couple that run it must be slightly tired come Sunday evening, as that's a lot of opening hours to contend with!
With serving so many different types of meals from breakfast, Sunday roast dinners, afternoon teas and morning coffee and cakes, the menus at Wellies are fairly extensive and far too involved to list here. If you look at their website http://www.welliesrestaurant.co.uk/menu/ you'll find several Word documents which detail all the different catering options they offer.
Briefly, however, breakfast options range from a full English fry up at £6.95, smoked kippers at £4.95 to a simple bacon sarnie at £3.50, with many, many other options in between. Luncheon is served from 12 noon and offers a good range of snacks as well as more substantial dishes. There are a good range of filled baguettes with fries and salad at £7.25, a range of Ciabatta sandwiches with garnish at £6.50 or filled jacket potatoes with salad at £7.25. If you want a more filling lunch then dishes here range from the £8 to £12 mark and include things like Grilled Salmon Fillet with Lemon and Butter served with Crushed New Potatoes and Vegetables, or Baked Avocado with White Stilton and Apricot Cheese, Bacon and Mixed Leaves, or Local Pork Sausages with Onion Gravy, Mash Potato and Vegetables or Pan Fried Lambs Liver and Bacon with Onion Gravy Mash Potato and Vegetables. On Sundays, Wellies offer a roast dinner which is allegedly rather good and incredibly popular locally. You can choose from Beef, Lamb or Pork served with roast potatoes cooked in goose fat and fresh vegetables for £11.95.
We had dinner there so most of the above options were unavailable to us, but we didn't lack choice as there was plenty on offer, all of which I'll mention in due course. All the meals at Wellies are freshly prepared and homemade. They also make a thing about sourcing local products where possible. For example all their pork comes from the nearby Funtington pork farm, fish and seafood is from sunny Selsey and apples/cider from Apuldram. Wellies also grow their own herbs on their decked area in the summer months. Vegetarians are well catered for at Wellies with choices of at least two starters and three or four main courses. Despite being a keen meat eater, I did think that Vegetable "Wellington" with roasted vegetables and Wensleydale cheese wrapped in puff pastry and served with cheese sauce sounded rather tempting.
~~ THE BIRTHDAY MEAL ~~
I booked a table for two for a Saturday night in April as it was my partner's birthday and we always celebrate birthdays by eating out somewhere new or different. I rang up and reserved the table about three weeks in advance as I wanted to be sure of snagging a table. Having seen how popular Wellies was for lunch when I first visited the place in 2009 (there wasn't an empty table to be had), I thought that with Wellies only opening three nights a week for dinner I may have problems with securing a booking. However, I was surprised by how very quiet the place was on a Saturday night. Other than us, there were only one other couple and a party of six in the whole place. However, I did note that the majority of lunchtime visitors in 2009 were elderly and they possibly don't frequent the place at night...hence the quietness.
We were shown to a lovely table for two with views over Wellies decked area. As it was a birthday celebration we decided to go the whole hog and have three courses apiece. I was also in possession of yet another discount voucher courtesy of Spirit FM (£15 for a voucher that gave us £30 off our total bill). Himself was aware of the discount voucher so I wasn't subject to any derisory comments about parsimony!
The range of starters on the Wellies evening menu are rather limited and range in price from £5.95 to £6.25. The choice was Soup of the Day, Baked Avocado with Goat's Cheese, Sautéed Garlic Mushrooms with Toasted Brioche (none of which I liked the sound of), or Smoked Salmon Rillette with Warm Ciabatta which was right up my street. The birthday boy didn't much like the range on offer either, apart from the Smoked Salmon, so we both ordered that. We were both surprised by the amount of smoked salmon in the dish as it was more than generous and they didn't stint at all. The dish was basically a huge mound of smoked salmon patted into a sphere with a green gherkin like filling to the centre. Neither of us was that keen on the gherkin like filling as it was extremely strong and vinegary, but it was minimal and there was more than enough smoked salmon to take away the gherkin taste. The dish was served with warm slices of ciabatta on the side. My partner complained there was no butter to accompany the ciabatta but soon admitted it wasn't necessary as the ciabatta was rich and moist enough without slathering on anymore grease.
Although the starters section at Wellies is rather sparse, there are no such limitations for the main courses. As well as the printed menu, there were also three daily specials on their blackboard that night (Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Crumble with New Potatoes, Roasted Salmon with Red Peppers and Goat's Cheese or Lamb Pot Pie with Port and Redcurrant Sauce and Vegetables). On the printed menu main course prices ranged from £10.95 (Chargrilled Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad) to a fairly hefty £20.95 (Chargrilled 8oz Fillet Steak with Green Peppercorns, Port and Stilton). I was tempted by both the Pan Fried Guinea Fowl Suprême with Crushed Potato and Thyme Cake, Rosemary and Cranberry Jus and Vegetables (£13.95) and the Homemade Salmon and Cod Fishcakes with Sweet Chili Sauce (£10.95) as I am a huge fan of fishcakes. However, I also love duck and rarely get to eat it, so instead I chose Honey Roasted Duck Breast with Sweet Chili Stir Fried Vegetable and Dressed Green Salad (£16.95). The duck was served nicely pink to the centre and still extremely moist. The duck breast had been sliced into three good sized chunks and presented on a nice mound of stir fried vegetables. There was some heat in the vegetables due the amount of chili accompanying the peppers, beans and onions. The green salad was lovely and fresh and made a nice palate cleanser after the fiery chilies in the stir-fried vegetables. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish and there was nothing left behind on my plate.
Himself leapt straight into one of his favourites Steak and Kidney Pudding with Fries and Vegetables (£11.50). This came served with a large individual platter of vegetables consisting of red cabbage, carrots, courgettes and green beans as well as a huge separate mound of chunky chips. The pudding itself was quite large and served in a nice puddle of gravy. Although he enjoyed his pudding, he was not convinced it was homemade as the suet seemed a little manufactured. There was plenty of filling to the pudding though, so he had no real complaints.
As it was a birthday treat, we both decided a dessert apiece would round things off nicely. We said no to the coffees though, deciding to have one when we got home. The dessert menu prices range from £3.95 (Crème Brûlée) to £5.25 (British and Continental Cheeseboard with Biscuits and Crackers). There were also a couple of desserts on the daily specials blackboard of Lemon and Lime Cheesecake with Cream and Apple and Rhubarb Crumble with Custard. Despite both specials sounding delicious I decided to choose off the printed menu and have Warm Apple Pie with Fresh Cream of Swiss Vanilla Ice-cream. My pudding was a huge wodge of warmed apple pie lightly dusted with icing sugar and decorated with a Chinese Gooseberry. This was a delicious apple pie with an extremely moreish shortcrust pasty casing, and a good dollop of vanilla ice-cream to one side. Himself went for Chocolate Fudge Brownie with Swiss Chocolate Ice-cream rather than Treacle Sponge Pudding with Custard that caught his eye... as he'd had a surfeit of pudding for his main course. His dessert was two thick slices of extremely chocolaty and gooey brownie accompanied by a massive ball of chocolate ice-cream. By the time we had shoe-horned in our desserts, we both felt full to bursting and very, very replete.
~~ ANYTHING ELSE? ~~
The service was warm and friendly throughout the evening. There was just one gentleman serving on his own, but as he only had three tables to look after he was well up to the job. All our dishes were served in a prompt and timely manner and there were no long gaps between courses. On the whole the venue is most pleasant and relaxing and the service unobtrusive and friendly throughout the night. The host offered us a jug of tap water without being prompted, which is always a nice gesture. The only jarring note in the place was the awful background music of jazz. Maybe it's just me, but I detest jazz, always have done and probably always will, and it was not enjoyable music to listen to. I would prefer some classical renditions or just plain muzak rather than discordant jazz.
Despite being basically just one step up from a tearoom Wellies is fully licensed, although the range of alcoholic drinks is limited. They have a small wine list consisting of four red and four white wines on offer, all of which can be purchased both by the glass as well as the bottle. There are no draught pumps on the premises, so all the lager and bitter is of the bottled variety. Expensive bottled lager is one of the birthday boy's bug-bears so I was expecting some kickback when we spotted there were no beer pumps at the venue. As predicted all the bottled lager was around the £3 to £4 mark for one tiny 330ml bottle. However, the day was saved when he spotted pints of cider on the drinks tariff for the same price as the tiny lagers. He therefore stuck to cider all evening and thoroughly enjoyed a change of beverage. I drank bottled water all evening as I was driving.
I didn't really need to visit the cloakroom, but decided to check it out for the purposes of a review. I was slightly taken aback to see it was just one unisex toilet for the whole restaurant, and would imagine there must be a bit of a queue during a busy lunchtime. The toilet was large and roomy (plenty of space for the elderly, infirm or wheelchair user to manoeuvre around in). It was also very clean and done out in a sort of Art Deco Boudoir style.
Our bill for the evening came to just over £60 which I thought was excellent value for three courses apiece and three drinks. Once we'd applied our Spirit FM voucher there was just over £30 to pay plus a tip of course.
~~ RECOMMENDATION ~~
I can certainly see why Wellies is so popular with pensioners at lunchtimes as they serve such good size portions here, the smaller appetite would be more than satisfied for the rest of day (and would make that grey pound stretch that much further!). I hope that Wellies starts to get busier on the evenings they open as it certainly deserves to be as full at night as it is during the day. All the dishes we ate were beautifully cooked and more than generous of portion. Despite our suspicions over the provenance of the steak and kidney pudding, everything else lived up to it's billing of "freshly prepared and homemade". The food was all delicious, the service first class and the ambience most agreeable.
Whilst the menu at Wellies is not particularly innovative, what they do serve is done well. The range of dishes may not offer any surprises, but it was all cooked well and all extremely generous of portion. If you are happy with a good plateful of bog standard cuisine with no frills or flounces then Wellies is definitely up there with the best of them. Good honest hearty fare and plenty of it! Highly recommended and definitely worth taking a trip off the beaten track to find and try for yourself.
~~ FURTHER INFORMATION ~~
Wellies is situated rather off the beaten track, but it's in a lovely spot and well handy for a walk in nearby West Stoke Woods as well as Kingley Vale Nature Reserve. Wellies is located about 2 to 3 miles outside of Chichester. From Chichester drive north on the A286 / St Paul's Road towards Funtington. Just past the hamlet of West Broyle, turn right onto the charmingly named Hunter's Race, and immediately left into West Stoke Road where Wellies can be found on the right hand side.
Wellies Restaurant and Tea Rooms
West Stoke Road
- There is ample free car parking
- All major cards accepted
- Disabled access is good
~~ Opening Times ~~
Monday to Saturday 9am to 4.30pm Sunday: 10am to 3.30pm
Dinner: Thursday, Friday and Saturday only: 6.30pm to late (last orders at 8.30pm)