The Griffin Inn in Fletching rests atop a sweeping, panoramic hilltop village in the heart of East Sussex. This is the place countryfolk come when they want to eat uber-cool, ultra-succlent pub-grub in an environment that is not chockablock with tourists and rabble-rousers. It is a strange place though. One that I have yet to figure out. The bartenders look like they belong in the latest issue of Mens Italian Vogue. They are usually tall and wearing tight pink long sleeve shirts that look like they were tailored on Saville Row. They conform to the bodies of these fit, athletic supermen like a glove and even I find it hard not to forget my drink order when I look at them. And I am a very happily married man.
The women who wait the tables are equally untouchably attractive and they're usually wearing short, thin skirts that look like, with just a spattering of wind in the wrong, or right direction, depending on how you look at it, would blow the skirts up and over their heads. But they never do. These girls dance around the pub and garden like they're walking on water. Never really looking anyone in the eye. They're just that unobtainable. Like I said, this is an odd place. A sort of magical, wildly appealing place, that I just can't seem to get enough of at the moment.
On this occasion, we were celebrating my wife's birthday. England decided to let us have a break and it didn't rain for the first time since the 16th century. So we had the pleasure of eating outside, overlooking the Ouse Valley. This is far more appealing than the inside, which is normally dotted with locals that usually look at me like they know my whole life. And especially that I'm American and can't possibly understand the true intrinsic value of a good 'ole fashioned pint of Harvey's.
After the floating, fairy ballerina waitress took our orders it wasn't long until I was cutting open the ethereal Tempura Courgette Flowers, Stuffed with Goats Cheese, Basil, Chili & Red Pepper Sauce. I know I have a tendency to exaggerate, note the sentence about the fairy ballerina above, but this dish was truly magnificent. It was light, flaky and once I got down to the Goats Cheese, full of flavor. But I wasn't the only one to order a brilliant starter. My wife's Ham Hock with Caramelized Apple & Roquefort was very special as well. So special that everybody else at the table had that, while I was eating the Courgette.
The starters had been impressive, but the mains were nothing short of brilliant. My Molasses Marinated Rump of Romney Lamb with Sweet Potatoes & Pistachio Crumb was perhaps the best piece of Lamb I've had in, I'm not sure how long, a very long time though. The Sweet Potatoes were a perfect accompaniment to the massively intense, concentrated reduction sauce that gently gathered around my Lamb, like the moat that surrounds Bodium Castle.
My sister-in-law's Roasted Monkfish with Peas, Crayfish, Sampshire & Saffron Risotto was equally as impressive and so was my mother-in-law's Slow Roast Belly of Pork, Mashed Potatoes, Black Pudding and Crackling. I could go on and on about each dish, but I will not belabor the point. Which is, this is not a pub to be taken lightly. It is a diamond in the rough and doesn't fit into any category that I can think of. It is like trying to put a label on your best friend. You don't know why you get along so well, you just do.
And despite the fact that every time I come here I am faced with one, or two people that have attitude usually reserved for snooty gallery openings and nightclubs in Manhattan's Meat Packing District, I still enjoy my time here.
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