For this month’s review, Sussex Business Times’ Jess Saunders and Amy Watson enjoyed a lunchtime bite at The Plough Inn, Upper Dicker
The Plough Inn is a cosy 17th Century countryside pub, serving real ales, fine wines and an extensive pub grub with a twist menu. Located in the heart of Upper Dicker with the Michelham Priory and village shops very close by, The Plough Inn is the perfect venue for a business pitstop. Also, being located close to the Weald Way and Cuckmere River means this pub is well-situated for walkers, making it suitable for both business goers passing through the village and families exploring the area on weekend.
What I loved the most about The Plough Inn was how it has kept its old, traditional look, making you feel as if you’ve gone back a few centuries. In the winter months you can snuggle up in front of their cosy log fires in the bar and restaurant areas, or during the warmer seasons, relax with a drink in the back garden – The Plough Inn boasts a large sunny country garden and superb safe play area for children. Their fashionable garden terrace – although not really in keeping with the rest of the venue style-wise – seats numerous tables and chairs, all of which offer shade in the form of parasols. We also explored the rear of the building to find a stand for bands to play on, and a fully set up marquee. We later found out from the owner that they were preparing for a huge wedding, and when enquiring, understood that The Plough actually caters for occasions of all kinds.
Upon looking around, we came to the realisation that the pub boasts various restaurant areas, offering different kinds of ambiance for its visitors. This is always a bonus as guests can choose to separate themselves from certain areas of the pub, or can choose a specific area that best suits their occasion for visiting. The Plough is also probably one of the only pubs left where you’ll find an outside window in the middle of the building, steeped with history – when the bar area was extended many years ago, the builders decided to leave the window in the wall, and it was re-discovered during more recent renovations. The interior design was dated yet somewhat endearing and kept in line with the traditional look the owners are quite clearly aiming to maintain. We chose to sit in the restaurant area at the front of the building next to a coved window where we could see all of the goings-on outside. If it hadn’t have been for the wind, we would have probably sat outside.
Once we’d been seated and handed our menus and our drinks (refreshingly cold glasses of orange juice and lemonade and lime), it didn’t take long for both of us to decide on what we were going to try. Unfortunately and unoriginally, we’re both very much pub grub people and we tend to choose the same kind of dish no matter where we go, though this worked in our favour for this month’s review. For out starting courses, I opted for the BBQ Chicken Wings, Hickory Smoked Ketchup and Micro Herbs and Amy chose the Ciabatta Bread, Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. We ordered our mains at the same time, opting for the Bangers and Mash with Pork and Leek Sausages, Creamy Mash and Caramelised Onion Puree Jus, and the Steak Burger and Chunky Chips, Emmental Cheese, Tomato, Baby Gem, Red Onion and Chef’s Burger Relish.
Our starters arrived to our table promptly, both of which were well presented. My only critiques at this point surrounded the table itself. There were sticky circles from the drinks that belonged to the people that sat there before us, and not much table decoration besides coasters – flowers or a candle and definitely some salt and pepper would’ve gone a long way.
Either way, this didn’t affect the tastes we were about devour. Both starting dishes were delicious – my Chicken Wings tender and flavoursome and tender and Amy’s Ciabatta Bread was a great start to her meal; crunchy and perfectly complemented by the dipping vinegar. There was a welcomed pause between courses, and when our mains arrived we were even more impressed. My burger was presented well and the chips (crunchy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside) arrived in a container that represented a fryer, which I thought was a great touch. My burger was cooked to perfection, and Amy’s sausages were thick and meaty. It was easy to tell that The Plough source the very best local meat.
We were waited on by the same front of house staff member for the entirety of our lunch, and the service was faultless in terms of attentiveness and speed. We also got a chance to catch up with the owner after our meal, who was incredibly friendly and took time out of her (I’m sure) very busy schedule to chat to us before we left.
All in all, while it might not be the best location for a casual business meeting over lunch, The Plough makes for a great location for a lunchtime bite or passing pit stop. With traditional pub grub and picturesque settings, it offers a relaxing and casual atmosphere, surrounded by the beautiful East Sussex countryside.
Upper Dicker, East Sussex