Jenny Ardagh heads to Limes of Lindfield to sample the highly recommended cuisine for herself
My guest and I were welcomed into Limes with a smile from Annabelle, a member of the very professional and friendly front of house team. With two other parties seated in the restaurant, which turned out to be deceptively large, the space felt nicely filled. It hosted an atmosphere that exuded enjoyment from each table – never too quiet or still – yet there wasn’t any difficulty in hearing a conversation from your own table. Unlike the many chain restaurants that can be found across the Haywards Heath, Lindfield and Burgess Hill areas, Limes certainly felt like more of a dining experience.
The décor was simple yet sophisticated, with sections of bare brick alongside white painted walls, nice soft lighting and attention to detail, with a flower and candles on each table.
We ordered some water for the table, which came promptly alongside a complimentary prosecco and rhubarb fizz, which was a lovely addition. We decided collectively that we’d go straight into a main course as, before arriving, we had been told by numerous reliable sources that the puddings at Limes were divine! So, our decision was very much based on leaving enough room for something sweet at the end – a good choice all round!
For main course, I went for the duck breast with dauphinois potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli. My guest went for a classic, the Rib-Eye steak with hand cut chips and salad. With mouths watering at the sight of every plate of food that went past us, my guest and I were very much looking forward to our meals, and were very glad to be enticed by a few amuse bouches, supplied by the chef. Annabelle brought us two small bites to stave our hunger whilst waiting: a wild garlic and leek soup presented in a small cup and saucer, and a dish called Ma Hor. Ma Hor consisted of a tangerine slice, with a ball of peanut, coriander and chili balanced on top. I looked at this dubiously, not usually a fan of sweet and savoury so boldly put together, but I can safely say it was absolutely delicious. The wild garlic and leek soup was equally delicious, with my guest and I commenting that we could easily eat a whole bowl of it. With these two pre-meal tasters, we were struck by the influence of Asian flavours and were proved correct in our suspicions when meeting the chef, Pat, who was originally from Thailand and expressed her deep passion for combining Thai flavours with British cuisine. We were both very impressed with her enthusiasm for British food, quite rightly pointing out that there is such a wide variety from season to season. As such, Limes changes its menu regularly to fit in with what’s available season by season, and to suit the flavours to the climate.
Our main courses came and we tucked in. My duck was perfectly cooked, just a little pink in the middle with a line of amazingly crispy fat on the top that managed to taste just as good as the rest of the meal on its own. The dauphinois potatoes were creamy but light and upon explaining how I could never make dauphinois at home myself anywhere near as good as this, Pat very kindly provided me with her recipe for me to take home. I look forward to seeing if I can replicate Pat’s cooking, but I have a feeling it may never be as good. Everything was combined with a beautifully flavoursome jus and purple sprouting broccoli. I savoured each mouthful, but ended up eating it rather quickly. As did my guest, with no sign of a taste of the Rib-Eye steak for me! He informed me that it was cooked medium just as he’d asked, with light and fluffy chips. I can only imagine he was impressed as a blink of an eye was all it took for his plate to be clean.
Then onto the bit we had been looking forward to: the dessert. Upon recommendation from our waitress, I chose the lemongrass crème brulee, and my guest chose the apple and caramel sponge with Crème Anglais. I had never had a crème brulee with such powerful flavour before and it was quite overwhelming at first. But after the first mouthful, I couldn’t think of a better flavour to put with the creamy dessert and it left a very fresh taste in my mouth. This came with raspberries and strawberries on the side, and the top was ideally ‘crack-able’ (a technical term, of course). My guest’s comments on his dessert were, no word of a lie, ‘it’s sublime’. You can’t get any better than that. Unfortunately I didn’t get to experience the wonder that was the sponge, possibly just for that reason, but I will have to go back and try it for myself!
We were also treated to an assortment of homemade ice creams and sorbets, including raspberry and mango sorbets, chocolate ice cream, stollen ice cream and coffee ice cream. All were beautiful, but my favorite was the mango sorbet.
Speaking to the owner, Mike, and Pat, we learned that Limes hosts vegetarian night as well as Thai nights, both of which I am keen to attend. Business customers are regular and welcome, with not only the restaurant on offer but two apartment-like accommodation offerings just above for those passing through on business that want something a bit more comfortable, spacious and private than the usual hotel room. I would recommend Limes to anyone in the area, or even out of the area – I would certainly come from Seaford to eat here, and will do very soon I’m sure. 5 Stars from me!