Reviewing The Roebuck
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.
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.
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.