As we visited during the week we requested, in advance, to have the tasting menu (not available at weekends or for tables larger than 6) and this was to be one of the loveliest meals I've had in a long, long time. I absolutely cannot wait to return, and it's a mere 30 minute car journey from my sister's house! Kid, I'm coming to stay more often.
We arrived just before midday on a rare sunny June 2012 day, though rain had been predicted, obviously. We started with a bottle of Colli trevigiani prosecco at £21.95. Later on I enjoyed a Pol Roger, as it was a special occasion, wonderful to see it served by the glass, and for only £9.
I won't bang on about the food, as I'll be here all day, we totted up a total of 15 or so courses, of which so many were highlights, the treats just kept coming, and we were there until 5pm - a 5 hour lunch, that's my kinda meal! Here are the pics:-
Cheese and tomato biscuits - think cheese straws and melt - in - the - mouth doesn't even come close!
Pork scratchings with wholegrain mustard and home cured herring on rye bread.
First of oysters 2 ways - baked and served with poached rhubarb and dried seaweed
And again a baked oyster, served with beurre blanc, pickled cucumber and caviar. A favourite of the day.
Next the breads, made here of course, with home churned sweet cream and Seasalter salt butter. From left to right, soda bread, focaccia and sourdough. I don't stand a hope in hell of learning my don't fill up on the bread lesson when they're this good.
Chilled asparagus soup with milk foam and asparagus and cream cheese tartlets.
I was so happy to see this dish, a simple but refreshing salad of rocket, burrata and tomatoes.
Signature dish of slip sole with seaweed butter. (New plates, I overheard the chef telling a neighbouring table).
Braised turbot with asparagus and smoked roe sauce. Another of my standout dishes, that sauce was amazing.
Lamb belly with mustard breadcrumbs served with a mint sauce. This was brilliant. The dipping sauce was quite sweet but there was a real kick from the English mustard hiding under the crispy coating on the lamb. I was beginning to struggle at this point, but got 2nds as my Mum is not a fan of lamb. Happy to help where I can!
Roast Monkshill Farm lamb saddle and fillet with greens and aubergine puree. More extras for me!
Matured Winchester cheddar served with white cherries.
These rhubarb ice lollies in cake milk were OMG.
Cream cheese ice cream with scone crumbs, meringue and strawberries. A take on eton mess.
Perhaps the biggest treat of all were the petit fours. Clockwise rom the left, elderflower posset, chocolate mousse with salted caramel, raspberry tarts, bitter chocolate truffle and gooseberry fool.
I really cannot heap enough praise upon The Sportsman, plenty of blogger love is out there already (see their Urbanspoon page) but, like the good Kentish girl that I am, I feel it's only right that I become a regular. £65 per person, for all this food, seemed like an absolute steal versus comparative prices for meals in London, and they even sang me happy birthday!
Come here for fantastic food in a relatively casual environment, don't expect tablecloths and fancy decor but you'll feel most welcome and I'm certain will want to make a return visit. I saw some pretty special looking non taster dishes coming out of the kitchen and there's a large menu to pick from. Booking, or at least calling ahead is a must and it's drinks only on Mondays.