Craving the countryside? Take a trip to Sussex in Soho and indulge in cosy farmhouse fare without leaving London, says Olivia Palamountain.

There comes a time in every urbanite’s life when the lure of open fields, orchards and smoking log fires becomes hard to resist. But before you trade in your overpriced London flat for a bucolic idyll, consider a visit to Sussex restaurant.

Set on the calmer northern end of Frith Street, this slice of country life fulfils Aga-fuelled dining fantasies without having to get your Manolos muddy.

Sussex is the fifth London restaurant from farm-to-fork pioneers the Gladwin Brothers, named after their home county and the location of the family farm, where much of the produce used across the group is grown.Sussex restaurantWhen the Gladwin’s launched The Shed in Notting Hill Gate in 2012, its informal local and seasonally driven dining concept sowed the seed of a movement that has since turned from trend to trad.

Today, every one of their restaurants is a “celebration of the English countryside in London”, championing British produce picked at the perfect time.

On a parky night, the embrace of Sussex’s softly lit wood-panelled dining room is the perfect salve to  bleak city streets, livened by a beading glass of English fizz, made from grapes grown on the family-owned Nutbourne vineyard in West Sussex.

Charming photos of the brothers messing about on tractors ramp up the country roots narrative, while a booze-laden butcher’s block for theatrical carving displays anchors the dining room with rustic aplomb.Sussex restaurantChef Director, Oliver Gladwin’s seasonal cooking follow a philosophy of “what grows together, goes together”, and it was uplifting to see UK produce spotlit with easygoing style.

From wood pigeon and homemade chorizo to Bosham marrow tempura with South Downs honey and cod cheeks with curried pea, there’s loads to get excited about on Sussex’s menu.

Canapés are always a bit of fun, so we settled in with a round of dainty mushroom and Marmite éclairs
(£3 each) to get the umami party started, plus some juicy North Atlantic prawns, served with lashings of aïoli (£7).

With my eyes on Sussex’s signature beef wellington to share as a main (£84), I wanted a sassy little fish starter to ensure room for a hunk of pastry-crusted fillet. Platter of Hampshire chalk stream trout crudo with earthy beetroot purée and watercress (£14)? Yes please.SussexWhen the waiter came over to confirm my next course (he’d been riding the wellington wave with me), I choked. Not on the food, but on my decision.

Just for the sake of tasting a little more, we plumped for the glorious-sounding garlic and rosemary roasted pork chop with celeriac purée and braised red cabbage (£27), and the sea bass with kale, Nutbourne tomato and Devon crab bisque (£26), plus a side of rosemary crispy potatoes (£5).

I’m all over generous portions and hearty farmhouse fare, but this pork chop was a monster, overshadowing the plate like a heavyweight boxer at a kiddie’s tea party.

Thick and dry, it needed far more of the delicious silky purée than was provided to add moisture and intrigue to each bite – so we alternated with soft mouthfuls of sea bass and let the excellent potatoes steal the show.

We skipped pudding but they looked stonking – think blood orange cake and almond cake with rosemary and whisky caramel (£9) or chocolate mousse with chantilly cream and strawberries (£8). There’s an all-English cheeseboard too.

Since the menu changes with the whims of the farm, I can’t promise you’ll find the same delights should you choose to visit – but good value is guaranteed regardless, certainly for this part of town. A range of set menus are also on offer throughout the year, including a natty three-course ‘farm-to-fork’ weekday lunch (two courses £22; three courses £25), with enough choice to please most diets.


Unpretentious and full of cheer (as anything pertaining to the countryside ought to be), before you commit to upping sticks, try Sussex – at very least you can have a few drinks and ride the bus home: rural taxis are terrifyingly expensive.