South Lodge near Horsham in West Sussex already had a fine reputation for luxury and great food, and then the addition of their spa a few years ago, added to that suite of pleasures. It’s in the spa that you’ll find Botanica which describes itself as a “dairy free, sustainability and health-focused Mediterranean inspired restaurant” with head chef, Jonathan Spiers, “drawing on the South Downs as a larder for fresh seasonal ingredients”. So far so good for a Pitts-Stop.
Botanica at South Lodge is large, open plan and stylishly modern. It’s got a super large balcony with seating that overlooks the hotel grounds, the South Downs, and the natural pool. There are lots of plant-based dishes on the menu but it’s not totally vegetarian. Importantly it is open every day (check times) and is open to non-residents. One of their signature dishes is their Wasted Burger but I didn’t have that.
What can I get you to drink?
As you’d expect, they have a good wine menu and I spotted two Sussex wines, Ridgeview and Stopham. So, yes, you’ve guessed it … my request is more Sussex wine, please. Their gins, beers and ciders were more local with Silly Moo Cider (from Cowfold, just down the road) and Cabin Pressure gin from nearby Horsham amongst others. Good stuff.
What’s on the menu?
The menu offers a choice of savoury bites, Botanica brunches, savoury plates, and sweet plates. As it was a working lunch (honest), I opted for South Coast Ling (it’s a fish and no, I’d never heard of it) with pea and lemon puree and picked apricot.
My colleague had Forest Mushroom and Truffle Arancini with celeriac veloute and crisp preserved leaves.
It’s not polite to dine somewhere without trying at least two courses of any menu (in my world) so we finished with Sussex Bramley Apple Tarte Tatin with macerated wild blackberries and ripple gelato and a Grapefruit Brulee with a sable biscuit and thyme.
Intrigued as to how you can achieve a grapefruit brulee, it was absolutely what I had hoped it would be – grapefruity without being too sharp and nicely gentle on the palate.
And the verdict?
Sublime. Beautifully presented, great service and lovely dishes. Nothing too rich or filling which is good at midday but we left feeling replete. Really unusual dishes with all the right notes and flavours. And what a great venue. I could sit on the balcony for hours.
If you like this post about Botanica at South Lodge, you may also like: