No-one quite masters the art of the country pub like the British. I’m a huge fan of the Great British Country Pub, with their historic architecture, sprawling beer-gardens and central community feel. A pub is a place to meet, eat, drink, and enjoy. With the cost of eating and drinking out increasing the very best pubs are those that can create an environment you’ll pay to be in.
The Shepherd & Dog set in the picturesque Sussex Downs has created just that. A charming mix of old and new, the roots of the pub date back to the 14th Century and more modern additions ensure that the space feels warm and welcoming but in keeping with the times. Nestled at the foot of the famous Devils Dyke you could easily stumble upon this pub by surprise, though the packed car park and cars lining the winding country roads provide a not-so-subtle hint as to its popularity.
As you approach the tiered beer garden it’s easy to see why. Towering above the pub and gardens is some of the best countrysides that England has to offer. A small stream trickles alongside the car-park and the well-maintained pub building and outdoor space has created a beautiful, dog-friendly, environment; the perfect place to enjoy a lite bite and a glass of something local.
Good food has become an increasingly important part of modern pub culture, especially as alcohol prices rise and something else needs to be drawing customers through the door.
The Shepherd & Dog serves traditional pub fare with that little bit extra. The quality of the food is exceptional, all cooked from scratch and championing local Sussex produce. The menu is clearly labelled to reveal a surprising number of gluten and dairy free dishes including, unbelievably, a classic pub favourite, fish and chips.
Though some of the pub staples remain the same the menu often changes to reflect the seasonality of the local ingredients, with daily specials ensuring even the most frequent of visitors can enjoy variety.
Sat above the stream in the welcome shade of the overhanging trees we ordered a selection from the main-menu although a BBQ was also being offered in the main beer garden.
Pan-fried squid, burnt lime, pineapple & chilli salsa left a tropical dance on the tongue, with the squid cooked until buttery soft and tender. The lightly smoked steak tartare with pickled egg yolk and crostini definitely drew the attention of the dogs, though much to their disappointment I wouldn’t be sharing. (ok maybe just a little bit when you look at me like that…)
Always one to go for the steak we had the Bavette with truffled fried mushrooms, red wine jus and skinny fries. Cooked pink, the bavette was juicy and tender with a char-grilled smokiness from the grill. Though the sweet, sticky red-wine jus was probably intended for the steak we found ourselves dipping our chips into it; rich and decadent it may have been the best chips and gravy I’ve ever had.
I could have sat in the shade of the trees listening to the gentle trickle of the stream all day, munching on chips dipped in gravy and drinking cold local beer.
I can’t wait to see what magic this pub has to offer in the winter months, we’ll be back.
Shepherd & Dog
01273 857 382