Sussex has some very talented chefs, and Matt Gillan of Heritage in Slaugham, West Sussex is surely up there with the best. If you don’t know his name, you may recognise him from his TV appearances on the Great British Menu and James Martin’s Saturday Morning. He’s got a pretty impressive pedigree which includes working with Daniel Clifford, Gordon Ramsay and John Campbell, followed by a ten-year stint at South Lodge including at the Camelia restaurant and the prestigious The Pass.
In 2011 Matt received his first Michelin star, as well as 4 AA rosettes and 7/10 in the Good Food Guide and in 2018 he stumbled across what us locals knew as The Chequers at Slaugham which he has since transformed into Heritage. This is now fast becoming one of Sussex’s best foodie experiences.
Your Heritage experience starts the moment you arrive and the sophisticated interior design is indicative of the distinctive and very stylish character of what is to come. Their attention to detail is apparent from their pre-meal drinks and their gin and tonic can best be described as a thing of great beauty and sublime taste.
What’s on the menu?
Heritage has multi-course tasting menus, ranging from 4 to 7 courses at lunch to 7 to 9 courses at dinner. You can also choose a wine flight, cocktail pairing or non-alcoholic pairing to go with your meal. The menus change fairly often so you can be reasonably confident of different dishes if you want to become a regular. We opted for 7 courses. Call me a wimp.
The many dishes included dressed crab, with lobster cream and red meat radish, BBQ monkfish with squid fricassee, roasted tomato fondue and pickled ginger (you may remember this from the James Martin show) and beef with couscous, cauliflower cheese and pinenuts. Each dish was a show stopper in its own right, beautifully presented and perfectly prepared.
We also opted for The Herder which is a goat-tasting dish from the Great British Menu and comes presented in a beautifully illustrated box with stuffed goat loin, salt-baked leg, barbequed shoulder, goat fat dumplings and roasted pineapple. If you have never tried goat, this is absolutely the place to start and the intriguing combinations will surprise you with their mix of subtlety and depth.
For dessert, the red pepper cream, coconut sorbet and pineapple salsa was my favourite and possibly one of the best and most unusual desserts I have ever had. Whilst my colleagues were equally ecstatic about the caramel chocolate cremeaux and celeriac ice cream.
The wine menu
It’s great to see so many local wines on the menu and these include some of our Sussex big guns like Rathfinny and Ridgeview but also smaller vineyards.
The risk with some tasting menus is that you leave feeling a little broken because it’s just been too much, either in dish size or richness but this is not the case at Heritage. Each dish is a self-contained work of art of perfect proportions and at the same time, the entire menu works seamlessly together. It’s a menu that stimulates debate and conversation in a way that makes for a great evening with every dish delivering both surprises and delights. It’s an experience that is inspirational, at times controversial, exciting, extravagant and indulgent. It’s not necessarily something you can afford to do every week, but it has to be right up with there as one of the top foodie and fine dining experiences in Sussex. In short, if you are looking for something special, this is it.
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