Battle, the small market town
in East Sussex, is (as any schoolchild
used to know) the site of the
of Hastings, of 1066 and
all that fame. We have friends who
nearby, and on Boxing Day we
all gather in the town square
the annual meet of the local
hunt. The sight of the huntsmen
red coats with hounds mingling
with the crowds, all against
the backdrop of the Battle Abbey
is a nostalgic scene of old England.
A little further down the High
Street at number 17, is a fine
old townhouse which houses Nobles
The dining rooms have been beautifully
refurbished and we particularly
admired the chairs, which had been
made by a local craftsman. They
are both elegant and comfortable.
Four of us had booked in for dinner
on Saturday night, and we arrived
reasonably early so as to get our
orders in ahead of the rush.
The three course dinner menu (£19
50) is concise, (five starters,
eight mains and five puds) and
much to my delight, celebrates
both seasonality and local produce.
It also shows off chef Paul Noble’s
more specialist techniques, presumably
honed to perfection at such prior
London establishments as the Goring
and the Landmark. He is clearly
a dab hand with the smoker, and
his breadmaking is very good. Although
there are side orders of vegetables
available, they're pretty well
redundant since each dish has its
own integrated selection of goodies.
A starter of home smoked haddock
was full of flavour and it came
with a "Gruyère baby
omelette" which provided a
suitably supportive canvas. I kicked
off with an excellent risotto made
with local Wealdway ash goat's
cheese, enriched with sun blushed
tomatoes. The risotto itself was
delicious and its texture quite
perfect, but I wasn't sure about
the shaved parmesan cheese on the
top which I thought was having
a bit of a fight with the goat.
Two of us had the "three ways
duck" (£2 supp) which
was really sensational. The tender
pink breast revealed subtle hints
of more home smoking, the slow
cooked leg was shredded and schmaltzy,
while the Foie Gras terrine was
rich and gamey. This duck dish
deserves a quack factor of nine
out of ten, which is the most I
There are two vegetarian dishes
in the main menu, both of which
looked interesting: mushroom stroganoff
made from wild mushrooms and a
spinach aubergine and parsnip gateau.
I was really tempted, but with
local wild boar and Romney Marsh
lamb and beef in close competition
it proved to be only a minor flirtation.
The fish mixed grill (£2
supp) was a good idea, with salmon,
prawn, squid and cod all mingled
with braised fennel, tomatoes and
olives -- very Mediterranean. My
wife pronounced it very tasty but
she rather hankered after some
sauce. (No, not Heinz tomato ketchup)!
Both the roast saddle of Romney
Marsh lamb and the chargrilled
fillets of Romney Marsh beef (£6.50
supp) lived up to expectations:
their garnishes had been well thought
out, particularly the braised endive
and shallots which added an even
richer dimension to the steak while
the glazed fondant potatoes were
Now it was my turn to have a "three
ways" dish. This time it was
three different parts of the progeny
of a wild boar that had somehow
got into the pen of a local porker!
Slow cooked belly of pork has become
a little hackneyed lately, but
this was really to die for - almost
jellylike it was so tender, and
the flavour was porky and best.
A noisette of roast loin, normally
the piece de resistance, was actually
rather overshadowed by the extreme
tenderness of the humble belly.
The third member of the trio was
a deliciously spicy sausage, home-made
of course, and revealing yet another
of the chef's accomplishments.
For pudding we tried a lightly
spiced crème brulée,
which had a nice crunchy topping.
The white chocolate cheesecake
went down particularly well - yummy
was the term used. Meanwhile I
was tucking into an apricot bread
and butter pudding, multilayered
and well drenched in custard. The
selection of local British cheeses
was well worth the supplement of
two pounds and we particularly
appreciated the accompanying home
The wine list is also concise,
but well chosen; we enjoyed two
bottles of a very nice rosé and
then went on to a superb claret,
a premier cru St Emilion from Chateau
Chant-Alouette, the 2003 vintage,
drinking really beautifully and
offered at a bargain price of £20.60.
Service was both friendly and homely – no
airs and graces or attitude.
Clifford Mould, March 2008
The cost of our meal: £40.00
a head including service, supplements
and three bottles of wine.
17 High Street, Battle
01424 77 44 22
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