The Forest Brasserie at Ashdown Park Hotel opened in 2020, so understandably, there was no glitzy launch at the time. It’s in the hotel’s Country Club, overlooking the grounds, golf course and Ashdown Forest and they are very much open for business.
There is something about Ashdown Park. I suspect it’s to do with the forest but when you arrive, there’s always this wonderful sense of calm and relaxation. As you step out of the car, you get that feeling of “everything’s going to be alright”.
Turning up for the official launch of the Forest Brasserie earlier this month, I quickly knew the brasserie and I were going to be friends. It’s stylishly designed and welcoming as you’d expect but more importantly, it’s been designed to reflect its surrounding. I don’t know why that matters but it does and the restaurant feels intimate too and has the hotel’s overall sense of wellbeing.
The first thing to note is that they cater for everyone here, with children’s portions, and vegan and gluten-free dishes on offer. But of particular importance to me is their emphasis on using local produce and producers (several of whom were at the launch). And not just the big, well-renowned producers but smaller ones too both for their menu and their drinks.
As the team at the Brasserie explained, “Working hand-in-hand with local suppliers, Tony Sanders, Executive Chef, champions some of the fabulous local food & wine produce that is available in Sussex and Kent. Besides the significance of cutting down on our carbon footprint, plans are afoot to involve more local suppliers within the Ashdown Park family. The intention is to create an epicurean calendar over the next year, incorporating the area’s produce to include a series of creative promotions; masterclasses; talks and tastings for the local community.”
It’s a tasty menu too, and I enjoyed spiced calamari, an Asian-style crispy beef salad and osso buco, while my colleague tucked into a plant-based vegetarian burger served in a brioche bun. Then I gave up all pretence of being a modest beast and went for the milk chocolate delice that included salted caramel, Bailey’s ice cream and popcorn (and I also had just a mouthful or two of the pear, oat and walnut cheesecake with blackberry sorbet). All washed down with some local Bluebell Vineyard fizz. Life is good.
Opening daily from 10 am, the Forest Brasserie is also somewhere to head for a catch-up over coffee and pastries after a hearty walk on Ashdown Forest.
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