Did you know the Country Club at Ashdown Park Hotel has its own restaurant? The Forest Brasserie is a stunning venue with views across the Ashdown Forest. The brasserie is a celebration of its Sussex location with lush, earthy decor and a menu offering an eclectic collection of local wines, produce and meats. If you love fine dining in beautiful places but find silver service a bit much this is a perfect middle ground – stunning location and incredible food yet laid back and affordable with no compromise on good service. I had the pleasure of visiting the brasserie to sample the menu first hand which of course I’m keen to share with you all. Get ready to have those taste buds tantalised!
Executive Chef, Tony Sanders has created a menu that embraces local and seasonal produce showcasing the very best of Sussex’s gastronomical successes. This allows the restaurant to promote a green ethos through a greatly marginalised carbon footprint thanks to local sourcing. There are also plans to run a calendar of events promoting the area’s fresh produce including masterclasses, talks and tastings sharing insights with the local community as well as hotel guests.
I visited the Brasserie for a girls lunch on a sunny Friday. Sitting in the glorious sunshine looking over the golf course and beyond we could have been a million miles from home. After a long week for both of us at work (we’re both teachers) this felt like the total escape we needed. Indulging in a glass of the sublime Hindleap Seyval Blanc, produced by Bluebell Vineyard here in Uckfield we pained over which of the many delicious options to go for on the menu..
I chose the Parma Ham and Grilled Asparagus (£11.50) with Parmesan shavings, baby herb salad and aioli which was melt in the mouth delicious yet light enough to leave me hungry for more. My friend opted for Spiced Calamari (£9.50) giving a cheeky, spicy kick on first nibble but cooled perfectly when paired with the saffron aioli.
I was excited to try the Smoked Chicken Gnocchi (£17.00) and I wasn’t disappointed. So rich, so creamy, so good! My pal chose one of the Brasserie Speciality Sandwiches (14.50) which are available between 12-3pm daily. Her sandwich comprised of stone oven baked Puccia bread filled with goat’s cheese, roquette, gherkin and bbq mayo, with fries of course. I honestly found it so hard to choose from the menu as there are so many tempting options. I’m definitely going back to try the Asian sweet crispy beef salad… and a Tablehurst Farm bio-dynamic beef burger! Just try and stop me…
Room for Desserts?
If I’m honest, we really did not have any room for dessert. Beyond satisfied. But of course, you’ve got to try haven’t you? We shared a Pineapple Bakewell (£8) which came with coconut sorbet and really was the perfect send off to a perfect meal.
The Forest Brasserie really impressed me for all the right reasons. The service was impeccable from start to finish. The relaxed ambiance of the restaurant created a perfect balance of comfortable yet sophisticated. I can sometime feel a bit awkward in very smart venues but this really was nothing but welcoming. I love the concept of using local produce – there’s something truly wholesome about eating a meal you know were sourced just miles from your plate. The menu has also opened my eyes to some fantastic farms and vineyards I need to further explore right on my doorstep. It may be somewhere I save for special occasions but The Forest Brasserie is now firmly up there in my favourite local places to dine. So, yes, you can definitely keep the change!