Take a seat
Laura Cartledge finds faultless food in Arundel.
There are a lot of reasons to be excited about a visit to The Parsons Table.
In my case I have been following the restaurant on Instagram, the photo-sharing website, for months
and it had given me a hunger only a visit could quell.
Granted I could claim I was just curious about the new offering, which has created quite a buzz since opening in December.
Or put it down to my passion for the local produce which provides the foundations for many of the dishes.
I could even have said it was the reputation of husband and wife team Lee and Liz which had tempted me to find out more.
All of it would be true, but none of it matters – the important thing is, excuse or no excuse, that you book a table while you still can.
The menu was just how I like it, short in length but not in temptation.
Spanning just one page, with a few specials written on a brown paper roll on the wall, it is changed every Sunday to showcase the season’s, and Sussex’s, best.
Always keen to try something new I started with the seared tuna, served with marinated Nutbourne tomatoes and cold-pressed olive oil £8.
It was a dish with a holiday feeling – the flavours transporting me to a sunny courtyard, making me wish for a cold glass of plonk and that we hadn’t come in my car.
It was vibrant, stripped back and delicious, a description which also fit my partner’s choice of pan-seared
scallops, celeriac puree and salsa verde £10.
“The scallops are so expertly cooked I can push them apart with my fork,” grinned my partner.
For the main course I took the plunge and ordered something I never normally enjoy.
In my experience risotto can be very stodgy and samey, but the combination of sweet peas, rocket and lemon ricotta, £11, just called out to be sampled.
I was instantly glad I had as the beautiful colours were echoed in the fresh flavours.
Plus the subtle citrus notes in the ricotta added a spark of energy which kept it dancing on my tastebuds until the last grain.
Meanwhile my partner was happily tucking into a portion of wild boar ragu with tagliatelle and shaved padano cheese £12.
“It is like the best bolognese I’ve ever had,” he admitted. “It has just a deep rich flavour.”
What’s more it was served as it should be in a hearty, generous, but somehow refined, heap.
As much as the sunny, sophisticated setting tried I did feel a bit on edge at this point as I had my eye on
the special’s listing of ‘only five’ honey creme brulee, £6.50.
During our visit I had seen the quantity slowly count down with the five crossed out, skipping four and showing three, then two, before it was our turn to order.
Thankfully we made it in time, leaving me a strange mix of relieved and sad as I wouldn’t get to have the chocolate pot de creme with kumquat compote I had lined up as a plan B just in case.
My partner also picked a classic, with the lemon tart and raspberry basil sorbet £6.50.
While my dessert was subtle and satisfying, his was sharp and sweet, and both left us feeling refreshed and content – in that way only a great meal can.
For more information, including the private dining room, visit www.theparsonstable.co.uk or call 01903 883477.