Be Our Guest At The Cat
by Lisa De Silva
Offering their staple Cat Classics and a seasonal menu, The Cat Inn remains a firm favourite for foodies and drinkers alike. And if you’re too full to move, book into one of their fabulous rooms!
The Cat Inn is a wonderful example of a traditional English pub. Welcoming patrons since the early 16th century, The Cat has a lovely local feel despite attracting patrons from far and wide, all looking to savour the great selection of ales, high quality food and warm hospitality on offer.
The pub is a permanent fixture in both the Good Beer and Good Food Guides and is also the only pub in Sussex to be awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand, given for “good quality, good value cooking”. Having been lucky enough to dine there recently, I can only add my own superlatives to the standard of the food. Created and cooked by a team of six, led by talented Head Chef, Alex Jacquemin, all food is cooked to order on the premises, using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients.
“The menu is seasonal and changes regularly,” explains owner Andrew Russell. “There are also daily specials, but we always offer our Cat Classics, the steak, mushroom and ale pie, the burger and the fish and chips. I think if we took any of those off of the menu, there’d be an outcry from our regulars,” he laughs.
We enjoyed a flavoursome crab starter beautifully presented with pickled cucumber and a melt in the mouth crab sable biscuit, along with a rich game terrine, served with toast, chutney and finely chopped coleslaw, creating a lavish starter of harmonious tastes and textures.
Mains include both vegetarian and vegan options and I opted for the hake fillet served on Sussex greens, with a chorizo and cannelloni bean cassoulet. The fish was fresh, perfectly cooked with a crispy skin and worked as a great foil to the warmth and zing of the cassoulet. My companion chose the salmon fillet from the specials board, which was served on new potatoes and salad vegetables, doused in a lemon butter and white wine sauce, which added a wonderful punch of fresh aromatic flavour.
Thankfully we managed to make room for dessert, as my caramelised lemon tart with blackberry sorbet was a superb combination of tastes and textures. The cheeseboard enjoyed by my companion had a selection of four Sussex artisan cheeses, served at room temperature allowing the full complexity of the flavours to be appreciated.
The service was attentive, friendly and helpful, particularly when advising my friend who has a nut allergy. What’s more, after enjoying the wonderful food and drink on offer at the Cat you can simply wander upstairs to spend the night in one of the four lovely guest rooms, recommended by the Good Hotel Guide.
So, if you are looking to enjoy a great meal in a relaxed, friendly and historic inn, do book yourself a table at The Cat.
THE CAT INN
Address: Queens Square, West Hoathly RH19 4PP
Telephone: 01342 810369