The Mulberry Inn
Big flavours and a big friendly welcome is the order of the day at this newly zhushed up Surrey country pub owned by Chris Evans.
THE LOWDOWN / LOCATION
You’ll find this pretty colonial-style pub on the edge of the charming village of Chiddingfold, not far from Surrey’s most southerly border. The location is as A-star as the pub. Picture postcard village green. Check. Easy commute into London. Check. A quick nip down to the coast. Check.
But it’s more than just the location that makes this pub special. It’s long been owned by Chris Evans, the TV presenter and radio host who’s about to move on from the BBC to host Virgin Radio’s Breakfast Show. The pub is no stranger to celebs. Over the years many an A-lister has performed here in aid of Children in Need and – Tom Jones, Paloma Faith, James Blunt and Gary Barlow to name just a few.
There’s no getting away from the fact this is Chris Evans’ pub. The walls are dotted with pictures of Chris and his celebrity mates and fast cars (another hobby of Chris’s) – and while this could be seen as ostentatious or pretentious, it doesn’t come across that way. Perhaps it’s the warm homely feel.
The front door takes you straight into a cosy bar area, and on the night I went there a roaring open fire burning in the original inglenook fireplace and squishy sofas and velvet chairs dotted around. The place has recently had a spruce up and it’s a great mix of quirky and classic – exposed beams, wood panelled walls and original oak flooring, while in the dining room at the back the walls are lined with a printed wall paper to look like floor-to-ceiling bookcases. From here there’s a hidden door which leads to the pub’s three boutique bedrooms.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Mr Muds and I decided to make an overnighter of it, so after a couple of drinks with the manager and a couple of locals in that cosy bar – locally produced sparkling white for me, artisan beer for him – we moved into the dining room.
If the bar area exudes a friendly and homely vibe, the dining room takes it up a notch and feels more formal. But we’re not talking super la-di-da fancy, just more smart restaurant or gastropub than standard village pub. They take their food – and indeed their drinks – seriously at The Mulberry. Head chef Joe Docherty believes in fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and he produces a menu that’s imaginative but also includes those gastropub faves. It’s not a huge menu, which to me is always a good sign – but there’s a remarkably good choice.
I started with the pan fried scallops with a parsnip and vanilla puree. It usually comes with pork belly and pork scratchings – but I asked for mine without the piggy additions. I’m a big fan of scallops, and these didn’t disappoint. Mr M opted for the beetroot and fennel Chalk Stream trout gravadlax with horseradish cream and granary toast, and he, t00, was very happy with his choice.
For mains I went for one of the specials, the pan fried sea bream on pearl barley risotto, while Mr M went all meaty and chose the Surrey Farm sirloin steak, which is served with triple cooked chips, a plum tomato, shallot onion rings and a Bearnaise sauce. The fish was gorgeous, and the pearl barley risotto was a wonderful alternative to chips or potatoes. In fact, I could probably have had this on its own, it was that good. Mr M said his steak was great – succulent, juicy and cooked to perfection.
There was half a moment when I considered skipping pudding. But that madness soon passed, and I took a retro step back in time, ordering the rice pudding with white chocolate and pistachio biscotti. Mr M went for the pear and almond tart with plum consommé and vanilla ice cream. Both were good choices, although I really don’t think you could go wrong.
Like the food offerings at The Mulberry, the drinks are taken pretty seriously too. There’s an extensive wine menu – I was particularly impressed with the choice of sparkling wine and the fact that out of nine on the menu, five were English. Like I said, there’s a commitment to locally sourced goodies.
After our dinner, we moved back to that cosy bar for a night cap – or several – and it was here I was introduced to the Conkers Gin range and developed a particular fondness for the coffee flavoured Conkers gin. Served neat over ice, it’s the perfect after-dinner drink.
There are just three boutique rooms at The Mulberry, but (whisper it) there may be plans to add further rooms in the future, so watch this space. Rooms are elegant and comfy with a mix of vintage furniture and luxury touches. The bed was super comfy – although if I’m honest after downing *ahem* one or two of those gins I probably would have slept soundly sitting in one of the stylish velvet chairs by the fireside. Tea and coffee, fresh fruit and instant porridge is also provided in each room, as well as free wifi.
Yep. And dog friendly too! The pub prides itself in being somewhere for friends, families and four-legged friends to come and relax. Outside, there’s a garden and a play area for kids.
OUT & ABOUT
You’re pretty well placed to explore the South Downs National Park from the Mulberry, and Goodwood is only a 25 minute drive away. The stunning Ramster Gardens are also nearby, although not open all year round, so double check their open before visiting. Haslemere, Guildford and Godalming are also nearby if you fancy a spot of shopping.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Whether you’re with a crowd or on a romantic expedition, The Mulberry will tick the box for most occasions and with such amazing food, I can’t really imagine anyone who wouldn’t like this pub. It’d also recommend this place for a cheeky overnighter – with great food, a plentiful supply of great drinks, and a super friendly and welcoming vibe, it’s perfect.
Not for: If you’re after somewhere super posh, this probably isn’t for you.
The damage: Starters are from £6-£12.50; mains from £14-£24; puddings around the £7.50 mark. Rooms are £95 per room Sun-Thurs and £140 on a Fri and Sat.
The Mulberry Inn, Petworth Road, Chiddingfold, GU8 4SS. Tel: 01428 644460. themulberryinn.co.uk