West Sussex is blessed with many great restaurants and The Chequers Inn at Rowhook is consistently up there with the best.
A short drive from Horsham, the Chequers Inn is in a beautiful Sussex building dating back to the 15th century that was rescued by owner and chef Tim Neal at the turn of the millennium. Since then, Tim has transformed The Chequers into one of our great Sussex foodie destinations and it features in the AA, Michelin and Master Chefs of Great Britain guides.
Introducing Tim Neal
Tim trained as a chef in Wiltshire and went on to work at prestigious country house hotels including South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding. At South Lodge, Tim became head chef and earned the Camellia restaurant three AA Rosettes.
A move to luxury hotel Newick Park followed, where Tim again worked as head chef before seizing the opportunity to run the Chequers Inn back in Sussex.
Ahead of the game
As a Master Chef of Great Britain, Tim was passionate about local produce long before this became “trendy”, foraging locally for ingredients and using local suppliers. A quick glance at the wine menu and I spot House Coren (based less than 5 miles away), Nyetimber and Chilgrove gin. Tim’s mission has also always been about creating “enticing, flavourful dishes that offer the exceptional quality of a country house hotel served in a less formal atmosphere.” His dishes have a hint of luxury, a flavour of France and an element of comfort too.
Spoilt for choice
There’s always a warm welcome when you arrive and The Chequers is also dog friendly. On a blustery day, we were greeted with a fire. They have a fabulous garden and outdoor seating (front and back) with an enclosed and vine-clad terrace. Inside you have the formal restaurant and the bar-restaurant, both full of charm. For the walkers out there, The Chequers at Rowhook is right on a footpath and not far from the Sussex Border Path so ideal for a refuel after a hearty stomp.
Exceedingly good food
We floated in on a Wednesday lunchtime and the restaurant had a gentle buzz as the tables filled up (I’d recommend booking).
Although The Chequers’ scallops are (in my opinion) the food of the gods, this time I opted for Salad of Grilled Squid and Chorizo whilst my companion (who’s a vegetarian) had the soup of the day. Both accompanied by warm, freshly made bread. Both delicious.
Tempted as I was by Steak with Chimichurri, for the main course, I went for one of the specials, namely Pan-Fried Mackeral Fillet Olive Oil Crushed New Potatoes, Pickled Rhubarb Dressing and Asparagus.
I have no idea how the chef makes Mackeral so subtle and sophisticated but it was. Meanwhile, my companion went for Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto with Pine Nuts and Twineham Grange Cheese. She confirmed this too was superb but requested more diversity for veggies (as opposed to vegans) please.
Our service had been prompt but not pushy allowing us to chat away and eat at a leisurely place but my desk was calling. Just time to squeeze in a quick dessert of Belgian Chocolate and Praline Delice with Coffee Ice Cream & Chocolate Soil. Not too much, not too little, I felt wonderfully replete but not overly full.
It’s not the first time I’ve visited The Chequers, and it won’t be the last, because I have never had anything other than exceptionally great food and service here. And if you’re looking for somewhere special to eat, you really must pop it on your list! If you’ve enjoyed this restaurant review of The Chequers at Rowhook in West Sussex, you may also like:
For more information visit: https://thechequersrowhook.com/