Despite the fact that I am not loving my job at the moment, I cant really complain. We regularly get invited by hotels to go and sample their wares. They invite us down, feed us, ply us with alcohol, let us stay in their sumptuous bedrooms and then after a full English the next day we toddle of home. Sometimes these little trips are for two nights, sometimes they are open to members of staff only, sometimes we can take partners, sometimes there are groups from other companies there.
Anyway, a few months ago the Hilton Avisford Park, Arundel came into the work and gave us two vouchers entitling us to a free two nights stay at the hotel with free dinner on one night. Lucky old me got my name pulled out of the hat for one of the vouchers. We had to use it by the end of May and last weekend was the only time we had free. So off we went. Its a bit of trek from Cheshire, but we set off about 10:30am, took some A road routes to avoid the standard tailbacks on the M6 and were soon well on our way.
Normally we take sandwiches, but we didn't have anything in the fridge so decided to stop at some services on the way. Now I am not one for a Ginsters pasty, or Scotch egg, but providing you can find a services with a Costa Coffee, or even an M&S you can do OK. We decided to go the Costa Coffee route and filled up on panini's and soya milk hot chocolate.
If we had realised we came off the motorway quite so early, we would have maybe postponed lunch and stopped in one of the many quaint little villages along the way. We went past so many country pubs, each one looking better than the last. Eventually half an hour from our destination we decided that we couldn't pass up the sunshine and we had to stop for a drink. We went to this lovely pub called The Mulberry Bush or Mulberry Tree which has a sister property somewhere. Stoopid me me thought she would be able to find a web link to the place and I cant. Anyway i had a lovely Pimms, and OH had an Old Speckled Hen.
As dinner was included on one night, I thought it best to have this on the Sunday night, as we would stand more chance of finding somewhere to eat on the Saturday. What I should have realised that being a Saturday it would give us less chance of finding somewhere to eat! Especially as the weather was gorgeous. We stopped in Arundel on the way to the hotel, to case the joint and get some cash. Thanks to the lovely folks on the BBC Food Boards, I had some suggestions for dinner. First option was the George and Dragon at Burpham. Armed with the phone number we rang, and rang, and rang. Not wanting to hedge our bets and book a taxi out there for it to be shut, we got back in the car and went for a little drive. It was shut with no signs up saying what time it would open, so rather than risk it we gave up on that idea. We tried Arundel House on the High Street but they had just re-opened that day after a refurb and were fully booked. We tried Butlers on Tarrant Street, but they only had one table which was next to the service door. Thanks but no thanks.
On our way back to the hotel we went past another pub called The White Swan. We stopped off to investigate and it looked really nice on the inside. We had a gander at the menu and it all looked fairly decent. So later that evening we hopped in a taxi and made our way back.
It was quite quiet when we got there with only about 3 other tables eating, and one couple having drinks at the bar. We decided to have a drink whilst we read the menu, and having made our decisions were led to the table. They started off by saying they didn't have one thing on the menu which was scampi. No problem there, neither of us wanted it. Then she came back 10 minutes later to say they also didn't have the seabass(my choice) and one other thing which I cant remember. So I had to change my mind. There were a few other things on the menu, but nothing really grabbed me like the grilled seabass on a white wine risotto had done, so I resorted to the starter of fish cakes, but served as a main with chips and veg.
For starter I had leek and potato soup, which was homemade and nice, but far to peppery. OH had duck terrine, with Tacklemans chutney and Melba toast. For mains, I had the above mentioned fish cake and OH had his all time favourite of steak with peppercorn sauce, onion rings, chips and roasted vine tomatoes. The service was good throughout the meal, but the place lacked atmosphere to be honest. We then had a terrible end, when they brought us the bill with an extra £2 added onto the steak, an extra 70p on the fishcakes and a few more pennies here and there. All in all they tried to charge us an extra £4.20p. We spoke to the girl who served us and it appears it was something to do with the computer, and she was very apologetic and took the money off as she should. They also didn't seem to charge us for the drink we had in the bar before the meal, so I did still leave a tip!
Bottom Photos - Sorry about the messy picture of hubbys steak, he started eating before I could take a picture. The mustard on the top left of the plate just about blew his head off the poor mite!