Gastropub. In some ways it's a bit of a dirty word. There are ones that try too hard, ones that have a confused identity, ones that replace much loved local boozers and ones that charge a fortune. There are however, ones that are a refreshing, shining beacon to the dining scene and, on paper, The Foragers is one of these stars. As the name suggests, all the meat and fish is from Sussex, orgainc or free-range. Vegatables and herbs are local, foraged or grown by the pub themselves. There is a fantastic range of ales and beers and a good wine list. Staff are friendly and they have a nice logo. Tick, tick, tick, tick.
Taking into account the above, I've been wanting to go to the Foragers for an age and with high expectations, an empty stomach and a gang of 7 friends, this was to be a Sunday lunch and a half. So it is with a bit of a heavy heart I write this post.
I chose the Roast Top Side of Beef with Horseradish (top image). The beef was nicely pink and a generous amount given. Not the most tender beef I've ever had but tasty with a well seasoned gravy. The main problem lay with the vegetables. I like my roast potatoes to have a crunch and these were school dinner soft along with soft parsnips, soft green cabbage and soft carrots. The red cabbage was nicely spiced but again, soft. Texturally and literally, a flop and a crying shame. Also, the arrival of a good Yorkshire puddings should normally result in a gasp of joy but these were a little wimpy although not too bad.
Mr Graphic Foodie has been banging on about wanting to try Romney Marsh lamb for a while so spotting this on the menu made it a dead cert for him. Again his complaint was the meat being gristly and the vegetables soft.
The only vegetarian option was this Wigmore Cheese, Cannellini Bean and Shallot Wellington (pescatarians had cod as an option too). I thought the size of this was a little mean and could have been bumped up with a few more veg.
My second choice was the Roast Pork Belly, but I have to admit I was a tad pleased not going for it in the end as I personally prefer it cooked a lot longer so more of the fat renders away leaving mainly succulent meat and irresistible crunchy crackling.
All roasts were £12 with exception to the Wigmore Wellington at £11.
But (and thank God for the but) the reasonably priced puds were great (all at around £5). My Walnut and Toffee Tart was a perfect Sunday naughty treat. The delicate, thin tart case held the gooey, sticky rich toffee sauce and crunchy nuts. The nut brittle hiding under the vanilla ice cream was a welcome extra tidbit. Absolutely lovely.
Another hit was this dainty and light grilled Panettone with honey creme fraiche and caramelised pear and apricots which worked together beautifully.
Also rather good was the lemon posset and the hot chocolate pudding with double cream.
General consensus across the table was that although not terrible, the mains were not particularly special, which I have to agree with. The particular disappointment for me was that with these beautiful, award winning local ingredients at their fingertips, the Forager shouldn't have to work too hard to create something spectacular yet remarkably managed to create something mediocre at best.
3 Stirling Place