You know the produce on your plate is truly local when the apples in the crumble are picked from the chef’s own garden.
But that should come as no surprise to the growing number of fans of Chichester’s Artie’s Kitchen.
This is a restaurant that is independent in every sense.
Its food is sourced from the best local suppliers. The crab from Selsey fishermen. The lamb shanks from a connoisseur butcher a few miles down the road.
Inside the former ancient grain store in Southgate, even the flint and brick walls exude a rustic honesty.
Yet it’s neither the integrity of the produce nor the extraordinary charm of the building itself that make Artie’s Kitchen the number one destination for the bon viveur.
The sheer quality of the final dishes mark this out as a culinary gem in the Chichester crown.
The dinner menu is simple. An a la carte choice of five starters, four mains plus two vegetarian, and three desserts including a cheeseboard.
It’s constantly changing too - driven by the produce available and the creative enterprise of the chef.
When we dined on Thursday evening, we began with the baked camembert served with Cumberland sauce and hot bread (£7.50) and the timbale of Selsey crab with mango, avocado, and radish garnish with rocket, baby beetroot and wafer thin toast (£7).
Goodness, they were meals in themselves.
The camembert was baked to the point of perfection - creamy and dreamily ripe. The citrus of the mango cut through the crab exposing the rich and layered tastes of the shellfish.
For mains, roasted locally caught cod served with wild and long grain rice (£15.95) was fish at its best.
The slow cooked shank of free range lamb cooked with marfona potatoes and celeriac mash and seasonal vegetables was this dish at its best (£13.95).
An apple and cinnamon crumble served with Cornish ice cream (£4.50) - yes with the apples from the chef’s garden - and a tarte aux citron with mascarpone (£4.25) completed our evening, along with some rather fine coffee.
Could the food have been any better? Well some might prefer a slightly lighter pastry in the tarte’s shell. But this is a mere detail.
But a great test of any independent is the quality of the house wine. Both the red and white were great value and entirely pleasing.
AK is so good, and the service so welcoming - we were looked after by the amazing manager Anthony Dean - that we knew we had stumbled on a venue that four months after it began serving evening dinners was actually in a league normally exclusively reserved for those with Michelin accolades.
Sounds too good to be true? Try it for yourself. But be quick. When we visited there were some free tables. It won’t be long before you will have to book well advance to get a chance to taste dishes this sublime.
For more information see the website http://artieskitchen.com
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