Alluring restaurant building in idyllic English setting serving modern cuisine
Interlude is a restaurant that resides within a privately-owned space of Sussex that looks similar to the plains of the safari. Probably not surprising in that the Owner (Penny Streeter from Zimbabwe) is South African and has recruited South African head chef Jean Dalport who has been here since 2018. The site and building was taken over in 2017, fully restored the following year and Michelin star awarded barely two years after. From this long tasting menu I had, there is no question to the skill of the chef in my mind and although it is a very long process, I enjoyed the treats that were included in the £95 pp 21-course tasting menu.
I counted 20 covers available at this restaurant, set within a building large enough to qualify as a country mansion. The pandemic as caused the 10 tables to be scaled down to 7, but in the fullness of time, this will hopefully be restored. There is a lovely view from the back-garden terrace and I am amazed at how large the entire area is for just one restaurant and this is no bad thing.
Canapés began with chicken skin and a black olive cracker made with calamata olives. Burnt onion cushions with a cheese mousse were very easy to pop in the mouth as well. Buttermilk with chicken dripping was a pleasure and the Exmoor caviar from farmed sturgeon in Exmoor national park was equally pleasant. Elderflower and sparkling wine meringue with Wood sorrel jelly was inventive and equally good to have.
Brick pastry cigars with celeriac and emulsify (tastes like cottage cheese) very nicely done and pastry was extremely delicate. Charcoal mayonnaise decorated the tops. ‘Walky talky’ chicken foot bones had cartilage removed and came with pickled daikon and wild celery. This was a gorgeous and light cracking; I wanted to suck all the fat and salt out of the foot it was that good.
Beef from Trenchmoor (3 miles away) was 120 days aged and made into a beef tartare, with gorse flowers. This was fatty, wonderful stuff. A very strange and new one for me was Mosbolletjie moss bread which is a staple of South African cuisine – a golden, pull apart white bread with a hint of aniseed flavouring. This came with wonderful spreads and fennel seed butter. Chervil butter came with chicken liver parfait centre and was very good to go with.
A baby carrot biltong was prepared in the preservation method and resulted in a texture similar to jerky (very chewy) and came with a welcome smoky rabbit terrine tartlet with pistachio and sweet chilli. Next, a carrot doughnut with confit rabbit gave a sense of the chef’s sense of fun and way in which he wanted to experiment. This had a carrot dipping sauce and was an absolutely lovely and warming concoction. It was very light, had a decent interior and the warmed, smoky crumbs (carrots with paprika) with foamy, smooth carrot dip was excellent. By this point, which I think was already approaching 2 hours in to the proceedings, the price tag and need for a lengthy tasting menu was becoming less of an issue or an irritant based on the quality of the dishes.
The estate has 38 hens on estate and these provide all the fresh eggs a chef could possibly hope for. A redbush preserve egg yolk with myrtle purée (from a Scottish tree) was the next creative offering and a brioche soldier with raw fermented egg yolk shavings almost had more eggs on the bread than the bread, but was definitely creative and enjoyable. Peas served were fresh and as a purée with sea urchin ice cream was another new dish that was a pleasure.
Bracken fiddleheads was served with juniper smoke and was nicely sweet although my dining companion was not a fan of this at all. I found the fresh peas helped to balance ice cream however and I enjoyed this. Plaice was glazed with a parsley purée and served with a sea bream salad with edible knotweed and buttered burre Blanc sauce with green elderberries rather than capers. It was absolutely gorgeous and over in seconds. There was a lovely balance of vinegar and richness of butter in this course.
Venison biltong came in the form of consommé, with 5 different grains, Jerusalem artichoke, Oxide daisies and marigolds. This was a bit subdued comparatively and would not have suru=vied a blind tasting very well it has to be said. Pork middle, white pork from Yorkshire had a good meat to fat ratio with wild garlic pork reduction jus. A huge layer of fat was present, but as it was rendered and well prepared, it was not heavy and as gristly as this can often be.
A Pre-dessert of sloe berry sorbet infused lemongrass gin and nasturtium granita. This was lovely and the fresh berry sorbet hint provided a childhood love of sherbert and calming granita. Berries of strawberry and black currant jelly, woodruff custard, butterscotch fresh fruits, blueberries, candied hazelnuts and pickled green almonds was a faultless dessert. The absolutely superb jelly and lovely bursts of fruit and texture from candied walnuts made this an absolute hit.
Sussex chocolate with Peruvian single-origin cocoa bean, 72% chocolate with a mugwort caramel centre (which was the only thing I didn’t think tasted very good and did not need the invention) came with aerated chocolate underneath silver birch tree ice cream. Silver birch is an acquired taste (sharp) and needed the aerated chocolate which, was basically was not enough. Treacle tart with scrumped cherry and chocolate creameux acorns had a lovely crunch and secondary hit of cinnamon. An outstanding liquid / soft chocolate with beautiful nut notes shone through.
I’m almost as tired of writing all that up as I was having it. As I mentioned, no question to creativity and technical skill from the chef in a one of a kind restaurant setting in the UK as far as I am aware. If the bits that were a little too much were removed and just the ‘hits’ left, I believe this would be a significant improvement to the menu and time needed which would be a win-win and push this closer to 2 Michelin starred territory.
Food Grade: 83%
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