Coleman's Hatch, HARTFIELD, TN7 4EJ
If AA Milne could populate Ashdown Forest with a bear called Winnie the Pooh, a tiger called Tigger and a kangaroo called Kanga, why shouldn't llamas and reindeer live here? Well, they do, on a farm in nearby Wych Cross, not far from this eye-catching old inn at the site of one of the medieval gates into what was then dense woodland with valuable iron and timber reserves. Built around 1430, the part-weatherboarded building may have been cottages for iron workers, although it has been a pub for nearly 300 years, it was no doubt much appreciated by the dry-throated charcoal burners who used to work in these parts, and even passing smugglers. Classic beams and open fires draw an appreciative crowd to sample beers from Fuller's, Larkins and Harvey's, and the food, a fusion of classic and modern, for which proprietor Nicholas Drillsma and partner Sandy Barton have built an enviable reputation. Their daily changing menus are complemented by an extensive wine list, including 10 by the glass. With plenty of local suppliers to draw on, there is fresh seasonal produce features in just about everything. Lunchtime mains include pan-fried calves' liver with braised red cabbage, griddled bacon and onion gravy; smoked salmon and crayfish risotto; and penne pasta in a roasted red pepper and sun-blushed tomato sauce. A reservation is essential for evening dining where choices may include pork spring roll with cucumber salad and hoi sin sauce, or French onion soup followed by slow roasted shank of lamb with roasted root vegetables, or pan-fried black pudding, quails' eggs and pancetta salad. Finish with lemon possett; apple and cinnamon crumble; or dark rum pannacotta with shortbread.
Tel: 01342 822363
Please quote 'The AA'.
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Harvey's & Sussex Old Ale, Fuller's London Pride, Larkins, Black Cat
11.30-3 5.30-11 (Sat-Sun all day)
25 Dec drinks only
Children's play area.
No coach parties catered.