For this month’s review, Sussex Business Times’ Jess Saunders and Amy Watson took to East Grinstead to enjoy lunch at Harvey’s managed house, Old Dunnings Mill
Old Dunnings Mill, located in the heart of East Grinstead, West Sussex is an extended 15th century pub straddling one of the Wealden tributaries of the River Medway. The Mill owes its name to an old rotating water wheel, of which a replica now replaces the original that was demolished in the early 20th century.
Old Dunnings Mill is just one of 49 public houses in London and the South East. For those who aren’t familiar, Harvey’s Brewery – operating since 1790 – is a family business, with a member of the eighth generation still working with the monster brand. Their prize-winning, traditional ales are sold throughout the South East while the company also boasts the label of a Fine Wine merchant, selling a selection of carefully sourced wines from around the world. Whilst their varied public houses are run under tenancy, their ales, wines and wide selection of premium spirits are sold in their Lewes-based shop and are available online. Harvey’s have recently undergone a rebrand, introducing a new theme and along with this, are striving to ensure each and every one of their managed houses reaches the demands of their many regular – and irregular – customers.
Of course as I do before every lunch review, I checked out Old Dunnings Mill on its website’s ‘360 tour’ view to give myself some indication of what I was to endure – as someone who is familiar with Harvey’s Brewery and its managed houses, I knew we were in for a treat. Upon arrival though, it was so much more than I originally anticipated; lavish and spacious with a very traditional yet somewhat modernised and contemporary feel. The front exterior boasted immaculate white walls and a dark bricked roof, fencing all the way around, offering customers some privacy from the adjacent street and passing vehicles. It boasts its own car park to the rear of the building – very often a ‘must’ for businessmen and women looking to stop off for a lunchtime pint or casual corporate meeting. We found a space straight away and made our way inside, passing the mill on our way through. I later found that the mill is very rarely in full motion, and so we were lucky to witness it on this day.
We were warmly greeted by a member of the front of house staff immediately and very soon after, shown to our table. We had the luxury of a window seat where we could watch the world go by whilst soaking up the relaxing setting of just one of their restaurant areas. The table was laid up neatly, already with a full cutlery set, salt and pepper, menus and flowers. I often find that the tables in a dining area can often sit very close together – almost on top of each other – but this wasn’t the case with Old Dunnings Mill. It’s very spacious inside; almost somewhat deceiving. We were presented with a glass bottle of water and glasses while the took our drinks order.
After looking at the menus with some deliberation, we were ready to order. For our starting courses we decided on the breaded chicken strips, served with garlic mayo, and the cajon crusted feta stuffed cheery peppers. For my main course, I opted the chilli and salt cured pork tenderloin, served with wasabi mash, pak choi and spring onion, whilst Amy went for the goan marinated chicken supreme, which came with carrot, kohlrabi, chilli, orange and spring onion, plus a side of new potatoes.
Our starters reached at our table promptly and we got stuck in. Both dishes arrived in their own pot, resting on a squeaky clean plate with a napkin, and tasted divine; let’s just say they didn’t last long… We were also pleasantly surprised to find salad underneath, dressed in – what I found out later was – honey and mustard garnish. I can also vouch for the staff at Old Dunnings Mill and it’s safe to say they’re very on the ball; our plates didn’t sit in front of us for longer than two minutes!
The perfect amount of time was left before our second courses were brought to our table with the offer of whether they could supply us with anything else. Both dishes were presented to perfection – almost too pretty to eat. With regards to portion sizes, Old Dunnings Mill have got it just right. My pork tenderloin was just that – tender and was perfectly accompanied by a delicious broth. I should also add that my dish was served with the perfect amount of broth – quite often you find that restaurants are either relatively stingy or your food is swimming in it! The wasabi mash however, was incredibly overpowering, although this is to be expected. Amy’s main course looked beautiful from across the table, colourful and also beautifully presented. While the chicken was wonderfully moist, it was relatively spicy, reassuring her that her decision to order a side of new potatoes was a good one.
All in all and taking everything into consideration – from the interior aesthetics to front of house service to food presentation – I would definitely recommend Old Dunnings Mill to anyone in (or passing through) the East Grinstead area. Old Dunnings Mill gets four stars from Sussex Business Times and we’ll be sure to return.
Old Dunnings Mill