We had been looking forward to reviewing the new restaurant at Ridgeview Wine Estate for some time and finally, we were rewarded with a beautiful summer’s day. So off came the roof of the Bentley they had kindly sent me for review, and we sped through the Sussex countryside to see my old friends at RV.
I have visited the restaurant before, but it was for a Gatwick Airport Stakeholders meeting which was not quite the right occasion to leisurely dine, so l was delighted to return with zero intention other than to eat!
The setting is simply stunning. Set amongst the rows of vines – hence the name – they have done a wonderful job of designing the space to ensure it is airy, spacious and welcoming – and all in the South Downs National Park.
I have known Tamara and her team for many years, therefore it makes writing an independent review quite tough but thankfully, this is not a concern – it is superb in every aspect.
We were greeted by caring and attentive staff as we were shown to our table and presented a menu of small bites, sharing plates, charcuterie and cheese boards and, of course, an array of award winning wines. I think l might have died and gone to heaven.
I selected the Denver steak with caramelised banana shallots and salsa verde, while my dining partner went for pan-fried lamb rump, minted crushed peas and red wine reduction. Seeing that we were reviewing, we added in the smoked Cheddar with chilli jam croquettes and grilled peach and feta salad, orange blossom honey and beetroot crips. With the table groaning under the weight, we savoured the smorgasbord of delight in front of us and dived straight in.
Silence reigned at the table as we tucked in – the lamb was succulent and juicy, and l am now a great fan of crushed peas with everything! The Denver steak, which l had never heard of before, was full of flavour and the banana shallots were a superb accompanying flavour to the steak. Now, smoked Cheddar croquettes sound quite simple but they exploded on my tongue with the chilli jam cutting through and l have to admit, l ordered another batch.
I am not a great fan of salads in general and certainly not if you add feta cheese but my partner was rapturous over it, and it’s the first time she’s been that quiet for many a year!
What a great start. Next, the oysters could not be resisted with shallot vinegar, lemon and Tabasco on a bed of ice. Although l have learnt never to drink at lunchtime, we had two glasses of their award-winning Blanc de Blancs that was such a perfect accompaniment to the oysters that, well, another couple of glasses just had to be ordered. The Bloomsbury has always been my favourite RV tipple and l have a couple of cases in the cellar but l think l will now switch allegiance to the Blanc de Blancs – enough said.
The boards could not be ignored and we plumped for the Sussex Cheese Board, consisting of Idle Hour, Duddleswell, Sussex Camembert, caperberries, house grape chutney and crackers – and it was an absolute perfect end to a fabulous meal, in a fabulous location.
Bravo to the RV team who have not only created a world-class vineyard over the years but now, a world-class restaurant. I sense l will become a regular visitor henceforth and l heartily recommend you do too.
Ridgeview Wine Estate, Fragbarrow Lane, Ditchling Common, East Sussex BN6 8TP