The Dukes Head, Crawley Down: Bringing a new level of sophisticated dining to Sussex
The Dukes Head at Crawley Down near Turners Hill opened its door to the public last weekend after a huge refurbishment project. We were lucky enough to be invited to a preview night in the week leading up to the big reveal..and were blown away by the whole experience. Here’s what to expect from a visit to the new and improved Duke Head..
I had to ask myself a number of times during our visit ‘Are we really in the middle of Sussex?’ The venue offers a high-end experience I’d expect from eateries in the heart of the West End rather than deepest, darkest Sussex. A welcome addition to the area the decor is elegant yet low-key with a number of interesting art pieces and features throughout the restaurant. The bar area is cosy with luxurious seating providing guests with the perfect reason linger oversampling the cocktail list in intimate comfort.
The small plates menu is helpfully divided into meat-free, land and sea sections making decision making that bit easier. We were spoilt for choice with the range of tasters presented to us for sampling. The platter looked almost too good to tuck into with bite-size nibbles of Sashimi tuna tartare, chargrilled octopus and chorizo, grilled lamb kofta and delicious panko crusted fried brie. All this with a side of osyters ensured that the bar was set high by the first course.
The main course menu offers something for all palettes. There are healthy nourish and Poke bowls with a choice of extras including tofu and salmon fillet. A good range of rotisserie and grill dishes for meat and fish lovers, including sticky glazed pork belly and seabass fillet and charred octopus. A range of generous sharing dishes – another one for the carnivores with a tantilising trio of pork and eight bone free range lamb rack. Then finally there’s the hearty comfort food classics with options including pan fried pumpkin gnocchi, beer battered fish and chips and dirty cheeseburger.
Not ones to take dining out lightly we opt for the 16oz Chateaubriand shared platter. At £54.50 this dish comes with a hefty price tag but with the sides of twice cooked chunky chips, confit of tomato and flat mushroom included this meal is guaranteed to leave both diners more feeling well and truly indulged. The Chateaubriand looks impressive as it arrives on a long wooden board. We’re offered a choice of two sauces to accompany the steaks, we settle on peppercorn and Bearnaise which arrive as generous portions in cute mini-saucepans. The meat is succulent and cooked to our liking. The sauces deliciously rich and perfect for mopping up with the twice cooked chunky chips. We struggled to finish this course due its size…and of course the fact that we both wanted to save space to try out some of the desserts!
By this point we’re really wondering where we’ll fit another course in! None the less we persevere finding it hard to resist the tantalising options put before us. Our attention is immediately drawn to the Icon Dessert Platter: a three tiered spectacle including home baked brownie, brûléed banana and pecan praline ice cream making up just part of this pudding option. We decide this is just too much on this occasion…but we manage to squeeze in a sticky toffee pudding and a stunning melting chocolate bomb. Both arrive presneted beautiflly with edible flowers and tasting just as good as they look.
I have to mention the Coravin wine technology that the Duke’s Head uses enabling guests to enjoy some of their finest wines by the glass. The through cork system uses a syringe to remove the wine whilst protecting the remainder of the bottle from being exposed to the air. The whole technique of removing the wine form the high-end bottles was quite fascinating…and of course it means you no longer have to have an excuse to enjoy something a bit special.
The new Dukes Head offers a truly indulgent experience from the moment you walk through the door. The interiors offer a dose of pure luxury whilst the food will have local foodies marking this place as a must visit destination. We certainly can’t wait to return!