Battered by rain and wind on the short walk from the car park to the front door, I found myself instantly in the middle of the 350-year-old pub. Stepping inside this ‘restaurant with rooms’ in West Sussex on a blustery cold afternoon captured that cosy feeling I usually get from a village pub with an open fire. On a Sunday afternoon the place was heaving with families and friends tucking into mounds of food like roasts and pies with mash. My dinner at the Crab & Lobster was booked just a few hours later and despite the food looking tempting, I refrained from caving in to the aromas and swiftly checked into my room.
The Crab & Lobster features four double bedrooms (standard and deluxe), plus a cottage with two double bedrooms. I stayed in room number one directly above the restaurant. The first thing I noticed was the thick carpet and I couldn’t resist taking off my shoes to feel the sensation under my bare feet. The room is finished to a high standard with a comfortable bed, a mismatching deep sofa, tub chair and a bureau. There is an exposed beam almost in the centre so, I made a mental note to try not to clash with it. Sadly the opposite happened and I had only been drinking tea!
The room overlooks Pagham Harbour, a nature reserve, which I could have observed for many hours; but the long journey had made me sleepy so, I drew the thick curtains for 40 winks before my friend Jo arrived. The snooze in the darkened room did me wonders, even though I could faintly hear the hum of the diners below. However, a good night’s sleeps was assured without the sound of cars or any other noise.
Feeling suitably hungry after my nap, I bounded downstairs and back into the pub. The snug room with its rich colourful upholstery gives a contemporary vibe to an otherwise ancient place. The low ceilings, warming fireplace and snug seating arrangements around the bar gives it a real charm.
The menu, as the pub name suggests, makes good use of locally caught seafood by nearby Selsey fisherman; but there are also meaty dishes like Chargrilled Premier Scotch Reared Steak and Pan Roasted Fillet of Pork wrapped in Serrano Ham. There is also a specials board to order from, which changes daily, and wine lovers can rejoice with a list so long it resembles an encyclopedia.
Sadly, I was unable to make room for a whole dessert, as I was stuffed from all the homemade bread and squid I had for starter plus the fish of the day I enjoyed teamed with delicious seasonal greens. Though, when Jo’s Stem Ginger Treacle Tart with Clotted Cream Ice Cream arrived, I was only happy to help her finish it. Light in texture and made on the premises, it provided a sweet ending to the meal.
Next morning, the waft of breakfast – especially the bread – had me jumping out of bed quicker than normal and I munched on a small selection of cold food such as Dorset cereals, freshly cut fruit and yogurt while I waited for my cooked breakfast to be delivered. The fishy theme continued with smoked salmon and mackerel, but I opted for the fresh bread with scrambled eggs.
The Crab & Lobster is a restaurant where both visitors and the community mix in total harmony. The service was superb, efficient without being intrusive, and made me feel like I was in the company of old pals, so much so, that I am already planning a return visit. Perhaps this time in the summer so I can explore the peaceful surroundings of this part of the world.
A night’s stay for two at the Crab & Lobster on BB basis costs from £175. A night’s stay for two in Crab Cottage on BB basis costs from £290 Main meals in the restaurant start form £16.75, starters from £6.75 and desserts from £7.25. For more information please visit http://www.crab-lobster.co.uk or call 01243 641233.