We drove past this pub several weeks ago whilst on our way to another of the numerous gastro pubs which litter the outskirts of Chichester. It had to wait its turn, but this week, The Dean had its chance to shine for us.
This is a much bigger pub than it seems at first glance, unless your glance is more like a long lingering stare which includes a touch of reconnaissance around the perimeter, all S.A.S. like. There is a bar area and a separate restaurant, including an extension to the rear of the building. The pub is warmed by log fires, although on a very cold day they could probably do with a little help to get that real cosy atmosphere going.
After some fundamental enquiries, we were informed that we could choose a table in the restaurant area, where our drinks and menu's would be brought through to us. We like it when that happens, it gets you off to a good start and makes you feel a little bit special. It was evident after a quick look at the menu, that this was another classy gastro pub. There were plenty of imaginative additions to the average pub meals, and that was also reflected in the price. Not to say that it was very expensive, but there is now a clear divide between what a pub charges for good food, (Around the £10 mark), and what a very good pub charges for very good food, (In this case between £12 and £14). We are more than happy with this pricing, but as always, it is relative to the quality of food, the skill needed to prepare the food, and to some extent, even the surroundings.
I went for the sweet potato and coriander burger with hand cut chips, coleslaw and blue cheese mayo. Dad was rather more adventurous, opting for braised ox cheek with mash. It wasn't until we were talking and waiting for our food that I truly realised just how big this pub is. We aren't talking endless Weather spoons monster, but certainly bigger than your average country pub. Dad also pointed out that it could have been a touch warmer.
Funnily enough, I had just been asking Dad what his thoughts were about food being served on boards and other strange means of presentation, when low and behold, my burger appeared, gliding towards me on its very own wooden board. For the record, we don't mind boards for burgers or sandwiches, but not fish and chips, or anything which is likely to end up messy. My chips came in their own little basket, as seems the chip zeitgeist at present. My coleslaw and blue cheese mayo also had their own homes in the form of small square pots. After surreptitiously removing the biggest slice of tomato I've ever come across, I tucked in. The burger was beautiful, although it did get a little messy towards the end. The chips were delicious, I promise not to go off on one about the benefits of homemade chips again. Even the coleslaw and mayo were impressive. It may have cost one or two pounds more than a burger in your standard pub, but I know which I'd rather have. Now, let's get to Dad's experience. He wouldn't say this lightly, so it is important to take note of. He said, and I quote, "I think that was the best pub food I've ever had." Now, bearing in mind we've found some very good pubs lately, I think that my Dad's sentiments speak more than anything I can put down.
If you are looking for a good food pub just outside of Chichester, to be honest, you are spoilt for choice, probably more than any other area we've come across, but don't miss The Dean out. It's a quality pub with welcoming staff. It also sells some of the best food we've found and what we would consider a fair price. There are some pubs that sell good food, but get a bit carried away with their mark up, not here though, they've discovered the beauty of Goldilocks pricing.