Friday, June 10, 2011

The Cat Inn, West Hoathly: Well Earned Bib Gourmand

The Cat Inn, West Hoathly
The Cat Inn, West Hoathly
Roast Beef Sandwich
Rump of Lamb
Mushroom and Ale Pie
Vietnamese Rare Roast Beef Rolls
I've been to The Cat Inn in West Hoathly, many, many times. I consider it my local even though it's miles from my house. I haven't reviewed it before because I normally go at night, when the light isn't ideal for photos. Anyone who has read my blog knows that the images I take of the food are as important, if not more important to me than what I write about it. I know full well that I am a better photographer than writer and so, whenever I can, I try to eat in restaurants I'm reviewing in the day, when the light is best. Actually, I've written an article on the best way to take food photographs when shooting for blogs, Facebook, etc. You can find that here.

With an introduction like that, you've already guessed that The Cat Inn is a great pub. I've spoiled it right from the get go. See, I told you I was a better photographer than writer. But there is more to The Cat than I've captured in the images above. The Cat has recently won a Michelin Bib Gourmand for its stunningly simple, yet intensely delicious fare. And unlike many pubs and restaurants in England who have obtained Michelin Bibs, Stars, etc. The Cat has stayed relatively grounded. Unlike, say, the Dukes Head in Crawley Down, which has reached super-star status in this local area, but has also gotten very sloppy (more to come on that at a later date), The Cat seems to follow a fundamental principle amongst very good restaurants, keep it simple. And they have a superb frequent diner card. For every £200 you spend you get a free two-course meal. With steak costing £18.50 the rewards can be substantial.

For a starter we had Rare Roast Beef Rolls with Coriander and Mint Salad with Vietnamese Dressing. It was fresh, vibrant and original. For my main, I had the Traditional Steak, Mushroom and Ale Pie with Greens and Chips. The pastry was separate from the filling, which I found to be both strange and welcome. I don't eat much gluten and this allowed me to eat mostly filling and only take small bites of the pastry. It was gorgeous! Tip top filling. Big, explosive flavors and loads of meat. My wife's Anchovy Marinated South Downs Rump of Lamb, Minted Crushed New Potatoes, Greens and Jus took top prize for dish of the day. What else is new? The Lamb was tender and succulent and the Minted Crushed New Potatoes added just the right amount of kick to help separate the flavors. And finally, Simple Foodie's Rare Roast Beef and Horseradish Sandwich with Salad and Crisps. An uncomplicated little dish, done to a very high standard.

With its incredible food, its beautiful location, frequent dining card and attentive staff, The Cat Inn is hard to beat. There are plenty of pubs in West Sussex one can go to. But there are few that equal The Cat for pure dining pleasure. I highly recommend it. Maybe I'll see you there.

My professional photography website: Taylor Young Photography

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