Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sussex Gastro Pubs Series: The Lewes Snowdrop Reborn

Lately I've been trying to expand the circuit of pubs, cafes and restaurants that we frequent, rather than sticking to the same old places. There have been a few good discoveries this year, though I'm afraid we haven't branched out as much as I'd hoped. So last Sunday, in an attempt to broaden our horizons before the end of the year, we re-visited an old haunt that had gone gradually downhill in recent years but was reported to be back on form.

The Snowdrop in Lewes was a favourite back in my Sixth Form college days, when it was a bit of a crusty/biker/wicca hang-out, serving hearty vegetarian food and pints of Snakebite and black. I hadn't been for years until I started working down the Cliffe end of Lewes earlier this year and popped in to find it a shadow of its former self and barely able to scrape together a sandwich, let alone a decent Sunday lunch. I am delighted to say that this sorry situation has now been rectified by the pub's latest landlords, who have restored the place to its former glory - albeit with a few (pleasant) changes.

In place of the old bric-a-brac stage-set style decor, the inside of the Snowdrop now sports an array of homely canal boat style furnishings, while the exterior has been painted in a fetching shade of pale green. It is back to being a freehouse for the first time in ten years, serving an impressive range of local ales, Bavarian beers and posh ciders on tap, as well as a good selection of bottled booze.

But the most exciting development at the all-new Snowdrop is the all-new menu. The veggie roast I had there on Sunday was one of the best I've ever eaten at a pub - only my own home cooked roast would top it, and even then it would be a close thing. The nutroast was moist and flavoursome and packed with tasty ingredients like capers and sunflower seeds. There was a wide selection of veg including red cabbage, parsnips, peas, broccoli, roast potatoes and cauliflower, all cooked to perfection and packed with flavour. The only (very slight) criticism I could possibly raise was that I would have liked more of the delicious gravy - but then that is probably just me being greedy.

At most Sussex country pubs you'd wait at least half an hour, sometimes up to an hour, for Sunday lunch. Ours came in about ten minutes, even though the place was bustling. Unlike the previous landlords, the staff were friendly and chatty and justifiably proud of their efforts to transform the pub from seedy dive to cosy gastropub.

I'm looking forward to going back to the Snowdrop again for the C&M Christmas lunch next week, when hopefully I'll get to see what the upstairs looks like these days. Let's just pray that my colleagues behave themselves during the festivities, because I'd hate to get barred so soon after re-discovering this once again fabulous joint.

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