Thursday, 26 April 2018

West Sussex: The Half Moon, Kirdford

I didn't expect to find such an exquisite menu hidden behind the facade of such a traditionally country pub.

And really - my lunch at The Half Moon was exquisite, in all respects.

Just a forty minute drive from Farnham, it is nestled in the quiet village of Kirdford near Billingshurst. My drive took me through Elstead, Witley and Chiddingfold making it a great weekend lunch or dinner destination from Surrey - next time I think I'll stop for a walk en route.

Owned by Jodie Kidd, The Half Moon boasts a charming and vibrant atmosphere where local, often organic, produce takes centre stage.

On arrival we were warmly welcomed and shown to our table, before ordering a couple of glasses of vino whilst we browsed the menu. A Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for me, and an Argentinian Malbec for my guest. Jodie and her team have lovingly and meticulously curated their wine list, with a huge number of wines available by the glass and even more by the bottle. Their wine list is an impressive fifteen pages, with something for all tastes. Bottles range from a modest £19 for the house white, to a lavish £257 bottle of champagne.

After a browse of the menu and our choices being taken, a basket of homemade bread was delivered to our table accompanied by two infused butters; wild garlic and beetroot. Both whipped and spreadable, they both looked and tasted delicious.

When our starters arrived, Milly and I exchanged a look of complete awe. She, a food photographer and me, thinking of that instagram shot, we knew we'd found our spiritual home! The presentation, creativity and high-quality ingredients blew our minds. I started with the salmon and langoustine ravioli with shell fish cream, peas and broad beans and can truly say it is the most beautiful, aesthetically pleasing dish I have ever eaten! And you'll be pleased to know that not only did it look fantastic, but it tasted delicious; really delicate flavours that worked together perfectly. Milly went for the wood pigeon with puy lentils, smoked back bacon, pigeon reduction and wild mushrooms. Yes, it really was as superb as it sounds! The deep, rich flavours really packed a punch and it was great to see somewhere experimenting with less commonly used ingredients like wood pigeon.

I continued with a second fish course, this time South Coast skate served with sauteed potatoes, baby leeks, French beans and a brown butter sauce. Yup, it was the brown butter that did it for me, too! The fish was tender, perfectly cooked (slightly under which I love, but find so many restaurants don't get quite right) and the butter soaked potatoes were just d-i-v-i-n-e. Heavenly. There just aren't enough other-wordly superlatives to do it justice! I think if I could eat one dish every day for the next six months this might be it.

Milly chose the rabbit which came with a chicken and tarragon mousse, ratte potatoes black pudding puree and baby carrots.

(NB, when writing this, I am saying it in the Masterchef voice over).

Again, both mine and Milly's meals were perfectly presented and whilst the flavours were punchy and perfectly paired, the quality ingredients and culinary expertise really shone through once again.

Once our plates were cleared, we ordered a couple of flat whites and let our selves ponder over the dessert menu. We were pleased to see they use Surrey Hills Coffee - a firm favourite with us both - and that the coffees were up to our snobbishly high standards. There's always that moment, isn't there, when you just don't know if you're gonna get pissy, burnt coffee or something that resembles the canteen brew. I shudder. Thankfully our apprehension was unwarranted; good coffee, ahoy!

The final installment in my drool-worthy food review is, naturally, pudding. Forced rhubarb, whipped panna cotta and rhubarb sorbet - my pudding heaven. The rhubarb was al dente (we contemplated how they managed that for quite some time) and the perfect sweet / sharp taste. I particularly enjoyed the candied sticks which I can only assume are those out of my childhood - you know the ones that look like cigarettes? Totally delicious, and nostalgic! Milly's brownie with lavender ice cream hit the spot also. I've tried lavender flavoured cake before and found it to be overly fragrant, almost tasting soapy. This was completely different - subtle, but distinctive and delicious.

Would I go back? Absolutely.

Whilst we were there for review purposes, I noted that the menu was reasonably priced and not a great deal more than you might pay for some far less impressive meals locally. In fact, I know I've paid more for meals of much worse quality - unfortunately par for the course in Surrey / Sussex I think. With starters ranging from £7-£11 and mains £15-£19 (plus a ribeye steak at £25) I think it is fairly modestly priced, given the quality and execution of the dishes. The pub feels homely with arm chairs and cosy corners, yet refined and upmarket in the dining spaces. I really loved the French-style dining area with gorgeous fabric cushions, shutters, white chairs and tiled floors.

I loved the little touches that represent Jodie's love of all things equestrian - it feels lovingly curated, for sure.

Being set in a quiet village I can imagine it would be blissful to sit outside in the sunshine with a beer - it's currently topping my 'must visit again when sunny' list!

The Half Moon (website).
Glasshouse lane, Kirdford, Billingshurst, RH14 0LT.

Thank you to The Half Moon for inviting me to review their pub. All views my own.

1 comment

  1. I don't just want to go here, I NEED to go here. LOVE the sound of the salmon and langoustine ravioli and the wood pigeon with puy lentils. Beautiful photography! x


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