The Gallivant Rye – Fine Dining and Camber Sands:
Situated opposite the beach at Camber Sands, The Gallivant restaurant offers easy access to the beautiful sand dunes, perfect for a stroll before Sunday lunch. Dog-friendly, it certainly attracted several walkers to its rather chic bar and lounge on the day we visited. Having started the day in the pouring rain in South London, we hadn’t bothered to pack walking shoes, intending just to head to the restaurant. But lo and behold, a few miles outside of Rye, the sun came out. This gave us the perfect opportunity for a stroll around the town before heading a few miles down the road to the Gallivant.
Rye is one of my ‘go to’ destinations when hosting visitors from overseas. The drive there can easily take in an English vineyard like Sedlescombe, oast house spotting, Bodiam Castle, the marshes made famous by Dickens, and finally the quaint town of Rye itself.
It has everything you could hope for; ancient town gates and fortifications, wonky buildings, cobbled streets, an old church, lovely bars and restaurants, plus some great antique and home décor shops. We had an hour to spare before lunch and managed to fit quite a few of those into our walk around the town before jumping back in the car for a 5-minute drive to the Gallivant.
I have to be honest and say that the exterior of the Gallivant is pleasant but bland; stepping inside is quite a different matter. The bar was very chic, and there was a gorgeous semi-circular settee, draped with ‘hygge’ style faux fur rugs, facing an ultra-modern fireplace. The lounge managed to straddle the divide that so often exists between style and comfort.
We carried on into the Hampton style dining area for our lunch. We started with cocktails, a non-alcoholic one for me containing Seedlip, apple juice and soda, garnished with sliced apples and a strip of cucumber. This was a long drink, and very refreshing. My partner Alex enjoyed an English Spritz made with Sipsmith London cup, local Chapel Down sparkling wine, orange infused cane syrup and soda. He opted for the mackerel to start, served with chicory, onion puree and crispy leeks. This was a light and delicate dish. It did seem a little strange though that in such a pretty setting that we had paper napkins rather than linen.
I’d chosen the ham hock terrine, and ordered a portion of sourdough on the side not realising, or being told, that it would come with sourdough. Served with a tangy wholegrain mustard mayonnaise this was a very tasty dish and a generous portion.
We each had a glass of wine with our main course. I was impressed with the great selection of English wines, with a particularly good English fizz section.
I was glad that my locally sourced cod main dish was as light and delicate as could be. The cockles in the sauce had a nice sharp vinegary tang to them which contrasted well with the perfectly cooked fish and kale. My glass of Chapel Down un-oaked Chardonnay 2013 worked very nicely with this fish dish.
Alex’s traditional Sunday roast was medium cooked beef with a rather spectacular Yorkshire pudding. The horseradish sauce served on the side certainly cleared his sinuses!
For dessert, he chose the raspberry frangipane tart, and I chose the English cheeses. Both were local, and I was advised to eat the hard cheese before the softer rose-washed one. They were slightly let down by the walnut bread that had gone a bit dry. The tart was declared delicious and disappeared very quickly.
The Gallivant is also a 20 bedded hotel and offers yoga retreats, as well as guest chef dinners. Simon Hulstone is cooking on 20th November as part of a series called ‘Legends of the Dining Room’ at £60 a head for 5 courses. So if like us, you are travelling to the Rye area, it’d be the perfect place for dinner and then to stay the night without having to choose the alcohol-free cocktail!
New Lydd Road,
East Sussex, TN31 7RB
Reservations can be made on 01797 225 057 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: We were guests of the Gallivant