Friday, 6 January 2017

THE CRATE & APPLE - 14 Westgate, Chichester

We happened to drive past this pub a few weeks back and thought we should investigate at a later date, well that date was today.

Before we get in to the actual pub, let's talk briefly about parking. The pub doesn't have its own car park, and spaces outside are reduced to one hour. Your best bet is to use the car park just over the road, although that was a slightly confusing affair, many of the spaces set aside for season ticket holders.

We had no idea what was in store as we bravely stepped in to the unknown, having not heard about this pub through word of mouth or learned anything from the tinternet. Upon entry we were greeted warmly, and more importantly, genuinely. We were told that we could choose a table and our menus would be brought over. You know you might be on to something when the first item on the menu is a pheasant keeve, you don't see one of those very often. In fact the whole menu sounded excellent. There was clearly a chef working here with passion and invention. We were slightly alarmed by the cost of some dishes which were on sale for £18 or £19, but a closer look uncovered some better value to be had. Despite all the wondrous and imaginative meals on offer, we both ordered from the bar menu. Dad choosing ham, duck egg and hand cut chips, (£11), while I went for fish and hand cut chips with a pea puree, (£13).

As we waited for the food, we assessed the pub fundamentals. There was some nice music in the background and the staff were really friendly and as I said at the start, genuine, a very undervalued trait. If we had to point at anything, it was a little cold at first, the small open fire fighting hard against the bitter chill outside. It did however seem to warm up during our visit.

When the food arrived, the presentation reinforced our belief in a top chef. Even simple food can still be well presented, and that was certainly the case here. Regular readers will know about my thing for good chips, a rare thing indeed, so I was keen to see what breed of chip was set before us. The answer was, excellent. They were sizable, but cooked perfectly inside, also blessed with a crisp outside. My fish was beautiful inside and out, just like a beautiful nurse who lives to help others. I wasn't sure at first about the pea puree, wanting some actual peas on my plate, but the puree was delicious and made an interesting change from the norm. I've probably said this before, but this may have been the best fish and chips I've had in a pub. Dad's chips were from the same family as mine, so were equally wonderful, while his ham was a thing of true beauty. The duck eggs were a revelation, showing how a little twist and a bit of effort can make a big difference. He also said that this was up there with the best ham, egg and chips he's had. Although our choices may not have been very original, we believe that the pub standards such as our choices, can tell you allot about a pubs food, whilst giving you a rule to measure against other pubs.

This was a floorless lunch, the very cold day apart. The food and the service was exemplary, and we would both happily revisit in a heartbeat. Yes some of the meals are a bit expensive, but if you look around the menu, you can find something to suit your money bag. We think it fitting that a pub with such a brilliant name is also indeed a brilliant pub.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 9
Food                    9
Value                   8
Verdict                 5*


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