Dust the cobwebs off the scales and root out the Lean in Fifteen cookbooks, January is here. The start of a new year is always filled with this intoxicating sense of new hope and a chance to “start over”, but it always leaves that bitter taste in your mouth. The celebrations are over now; back to reality. After almost a two-week absence from work, you somehow have to remember how to even do your job in the first place, alongside battling the dark mornings and even darker evenings. And the weather is just never nice in January. It’s always wet. It’s always windy. It’s always dark. Dark, dark, dark.
Over the past few years, several small “crazes” have rushed through our brains, namely Dry January and Veganuary. As a lover of all things wine and cheese, I couldn’t possibly think of a more challenging goal in what is arguably the most challenging month of the year. Especially when wine and cheese just go so well together; truly, a match-made in heaven. Unless you’re considering swapping that glass of red for a ten-year-old tawny. As much as these two devilishly indulgent treats scream at me from the Christmas leftovers buried deep at the back of my fridge, I personally must look to a healthier 2023. Having bought my one-size-too-small wedding dress back in June 2022 before I gained the dreaded Christmas-half-a-stone, I have no choice but to abandon the treats and force my body into a healthier new me.
But for those of you who don’t have a wedding dress to squeeze into in six months’ time, or are feeling unnecessarily pressured by an incessant need to “get healthy”, maybe the latest Tryanuary trend is for you. Try something new. Taste something new; a trend that many pubs, restaurants, breweries, and vineyards are championing in the wake of a cost-of-living-crisis and a plummet in hospitality sales. Unsure of where to try? Explore some sparkling Sussex gems, support some amazing local businesses, and take a plunge into new experiences and the best start to a new year you’ve ever had. Let’s start as we mean to go on. Eat well. Drink well. Live well.
The Bell, Ticehurst
Responsible for putting Ticehurst on the Gardener’s World map, The Bell In Ticehurst really does have it all when it comes to the dining experience. The creaky wooden floors, a crackling fire, a light littering of candles, books and interesting nick-nacks, The Bell provides the perfect blend of the old with the new, the refined with the relaxed, and a warm welcome to all who pass through its doors. Its extensive wine list and carefully considered local ales beautifully complement its concise, yet inspiring menu, ensuring there’s something on the menu for everyone. From scotch eggs to breast of pheasant, from Waldorf salad to good ol’ fish and chips, its menu and culinary expertise cannot disappoint. Whether you enjoy the cosy comforts of the restaurant-bar or the floral fragrance of its famous garden and woven ceiling of mulberry trees, The Bell In Ticehurst is perfect for friends, family, romantic evenings, weddings, or even just a quick pint at the long, wooden bar. And it’s dog friendly; what could be better?
A hidden gem on the Sussex border so good I’m reluctant to share. Tucked away on the edge of the extensive coppiced woodland of the village of Flimwell, Birchwood restaurant is the third of chef Will Devlin’s hospitality empire. Rooted in a sustainable woodland community, Birchwood provides the highest quality produce Sussex has to offer, and even sources a wide variety of ingredients from the woodland on its doorstep such as mushrooms, elderberries, and birch sap. Its fresh, modern interior excels in bringing the natural world in, with its tall glass windows overlooking the stunning woodlands that fuel Birchwood’s inspiration, menu, and décor. Warm creams and terracotta and vast wooden tables provide ample opportunity for community dining and shared experiences through every customer’s passion for good food and local cuisine. With the fast approach of its Supper Clubs in January and February, be sure to book your place and brighten those dark winter evenings. Need to find somewhere to book a Saturday lunch with friends? Dabble in the crispy, melt-in-your-mouth belly pork, or the creamy, indulgent espresso pannacotta. I’ve got my table booked this weekend. Have you?
The Vineyard, Lamberhurst
Perched on the East Sussex-Kent border is The Vineyard at Lamberhurst. Its cosy, English pub exterior welcomes you in to a modern, relaxed environment, buzzing with locals and tourists, some even staying in their four warm, cosy bedrooms just up the stairs. The Vineyard boasts a beautiful, spacious garden, perfect for that quick pint after work or a catch-up with friends whilst the dogs enjoy the open, green space. From Steak Tuesdays to Fish Frydays, The Vineyard has something for everyone, offering a wide variety of dishes on its carefully crafted menu. Championing local and seasonal produce, dishes are always changing, meaning that second or third visits will always come with something new and exciting to try; perfect for a Tryanuary taster! Overlooking the beautiful Lamberhurst vineyards, The Vineyard pub and restaurant is nestled amongst beautiful countryside; the perfect location for a romantic meal for two or a family get-to-together on a cold winter’s eve. Looking for something completely different? Book into one of their “Adventure Shacks”; a private dining and drinking experience that accommodates up to eight people. With a theme for every season, January may not feel like such a drag after all!
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