We had been meaning to try this 2-Rosette awarded restaurant set in the grounds of Borde Hill Garden (West Sussex) for a while. We have eaten at its younger sister Café Elvira a few times but were always intrigued by the more luxurious Jeremy’s just next door. In the surrounding villages, Jeremy’s seemed to be well-liked and was often mentioned by locals as a place to go.
This is one of those restaurants that will rely on word-of-mouth as it is hidden inside the grounds of a botanical garden and park. And as it was hard to book a table on a weekday, I can only assume its reputation has travelled far enough and the food is good enough to keep the clientele coming back.
Set in a courtyard just before the entrance to the gardens, Jeremy’s (and Café Elvira) evoke an immediate feeling of fashionable British country. Inside, the shell of the restaurant is decorated in a relaxed manner, with subdued green/grey painted wood surfaces much like the countryside café next door. But here the luxury comes from the black shiny tables, the moody art work and the flower arrangements. And the clientele. The atmosphere is calm, restrained, epicurean.
The meal sets off to a great start as the most buttery of bread slices are offered and creamy butter is put on the table. A wave of guilt quickly fades away as I eat the first slice and my eyes immediately wonder around the room looking for the waiter who was holding the self-indulgent bread. Please come back!
Moving on from the (several slices of) bread, the rest of the food also delivered both in style and flavour. For starter I chose the goat’s cheese and herb mousse with grelot onion, sweet corn, garden grape gel and radicchio and my husband went for the Sauté Pied Bleu (a wild mushroom) with poached egg, walnut and chicory. Both dishes were lovely, although I have to admit I struggled to finish mine as goat’s cheese can be quite over-powering and the portion was very generous.
On to the mains. The cod in my dish was succulent and velvet-like and the other elements – brandade, spinach, leek and dijon velouté – were delicious and complemented the fish beautifully. The whole thing was super-light and fresh. After my hedonistic behaviour with the bread, this dish was like redemption, but without any loss of pleasure for my senses.
My husband loved the venison he chose. It looked gorgeous and even though I am not especially fond of venison (probably due to my ever-lasting love for fatty things) I was impressed with how flavourful it was. The combination of the venison with the apple, romanesco, mushroom and pearl barley was wonderful and the dish was light, even though it was a meat dish, but satisfying at the same time.
On all the dishes so far, top marks for presentation too. For dessert, my husband went a bit mad and chose sticky toffee pudding and I wanted to redeem myself from gorging on bread and butter and chose the pear sorbet. A simple dessert but couldn’t taste more of pear and was exceptionally fresh. I must admit I was a bit jealous of the sticky toffee and did try a bit myself, but what a bomb it was after such a satisfying meal! I guess if you are going for something like that you need to pace yourself in the first two dishes and certainly try not to eat bread and butter as if it’s your last day on earth. But what a shame it would be to miss that ;-).
Interestingly, there was huge contrast in terms of presentation and complexity between the intricate, almost Michelin-star-like mains and the more ‘simple’ desserts, at least the ones we chose. I also thought that the portions were overall about one third too big. We both felt we had overeaten. I guess that’s not a bad thing but if the dishes were a little smaller I wouldn’t have complained and still would have thought they were delicious and satisfying.
All in all, Jeremy’s is a mature experience with a touch of luxury, but not too much luxury that it makes you feel uncomfortable or make the experience contrived. The overall feel is relaxed. The food is excellent and the service impeccable. Well worth a visit if you happen to be in Sussex.
Where: Haywards Heath, Sussex
Cuisine: Fine dining with influences from French
Occasion: Lunch or dinner
Price: On the pricey side but good value
Rating: 4.3 stars
Would I go again? Yes