view from across the A22. If crossing here, be fleet of foot

view from across the A22. If crossing here, be fleet of foot

The Roebuck is a hotel with pub restaurant on the A22 at Wych Cross, which is to the south of Forest Row in Sussex.

Originally a 17th century house, it has been sympathetically converted to quite a large hotel, with 28 bedrooms, with a warm and inviting ground floor. We had Sunday lunch recently in the spacious dining room.

Ground floor includes the usual reception, but where this building comes into its own is behind the welcome facade. The restaurant has a full window view of the car park and busy A22 road, but investigate more and that is where the historical charm is so attractive. There is the ubiquitous bar, but it is not just a bar. It has quaint alcoves for romantics, or privacy if you are having a disagreement without audience. I saw neither on my visit, despite looking hard. Shame.

reception with subtle colour scheme

reception with subtle colour scheme

These little alcoves are suitable for two or four, with table for drinks/food, with an ambiance that demands discretion. No-one wants to speak in tones other than soft. The expensive seating is well covered and upholstered for even the most well endowed figure, you can’t imagine the chair collapsing under grotesque over-weight.

The discreet pale covered walls scream softly of quality, and this is not an area to encourage those under legal alcohol consuming age to wander at will, as is the habit of the more popular establishments that welcome such patrons.

On examination, the bar menu was elaborate without being fussy, but it was the restaurant that called us. To be more exact, the carvery.

The menu had over half a dozen main course choices, but it was the Sunday roast that caught the attention of all of our party of five. But at what cost? Good description, but the all-important money tag was missing, and revealed by our waitress to be £11.95.

We lined for the meat, warm plate in one hand, protected by conveniently placed paper serviette, with a choice of four meats. The boss himself was carving today, and I chose just beef.

He provided me with two evenly thick sliced pieces of my favourite meat, and maybe I would have appreciated three slices of thinner cut. Same amount of meat, just that better to chew. Same excellent taste, though.

Vegetable selection was varied and well cooked. Fresh, nothing left around for ages, if the dish was getting low, it was replaced. I especially liked the cauliflower in white slightly cheesy sauce, there were also peas (not hard like bullets, what a pleasant change), carrots, two or three others that I forget, plus roasted parsnips, which I tried but left. Bit tough and woody.

Roast spuds or mash potatoes in plentiful supply, with sauces on a separate table. Well organised and presented.

empty restaurant, showing carvery after a busy Sunday afternoon session

empty restaurant, showing carvery after a busy Sunday afternoon session

The others managed to clear their plates, I was the only one who could not quite cope with the mastication of the beef. It was more than likely my molars.

Puds were a good choice. My wife had the cheese platter, good selection, plentiful with grapes and biscuits. I was the only one to decide on the Baked Alaska. I asked the waitress if it was like my mother used to make. I hoped not, because she was a lousy cook.

Mum was good at her sweets, though, and she was especially adept at this one. Hers consisted of ice cream covered in meringue, placed for a short while in the oven to brown the egg white while sealing the ice cream so it didn’t melt. The Roebuck version came straight out of the freezer, nothing warm, lots of biscuit base and something of a disappointment.

There are ground floor bedrooms, on the way are the clean, discreet public toilets. At the rear of the small public rooms is something you don’t often see these days – a pool table. It was in use throughout out stay, and is obviously a good draw.

So, to summarise. The experience was one we would love to repeat. The staff were attentive, the food was better than average, they encourage a clientele that we were comfortable with, and we felt that the bill was reasonable. We would certainly return, and recommend.

The owners are the chain Greene King, The Roebuck is managed, we did not look at the bedrooms. I have looked at their web site and double rooms start at £50 out of season.

 

Harry Pope is Eastbourne’s sight-seeing guide www.harrythewalker.com He gives talks www.harrythetalker.com He is a writer www.harrythewriter.com   and www.harrytheblogger.com

 

 

 

About Harry Pope

Very few writers earn more than £10,000 annually. Harry is one of the poorer ones. He is no longer middle-aged, as he knows no-one who is getting on for 140. Literary success has come with an attempt at maturity – failed both – but marital stability with Pam has more than compensated. He is an accomplished speaker, talking on a variety of topics, including how not to run a hotel, buried secrets, and what’s it worth. See Harry The Talker. He has five published books, see Harry The Writer. He is Eastbourne’s only licensed sight-seeing guide see Harry The Walker. He has a daily blog see Harry The Blogger. The only site not purchased is www.harrytheeverything.com but that might come, who knows. He was a London funeral director for many years, then started Cheam Limousines in 1990, selling some thirteen years later. Arriving in Eastbourne in the Summer of 2003, Harry and Pam first bought a small guest house, then a large hotel, which proved to be disastrous because of their business partnership with a moron from California. He now walks, and talks, sometimes both at the same time.