UK Restaurant and Hotel Reviews

London Hotels
Family Restaurants
Press Contact

A Dine Online Discovery

Powder Mills Hotel Battle, East Sussex

Every so often we chance upon a place that's not terribly well known, tucked away perhaps, but which offers something unique as well as being great value for money. The other day we found a country house hotel in the depths of rural Sussex, well off the beaten track. The moment you arrive you know it's going to be special. The first prospect is of ancient buildings, all higgledy-piggledy, but with generous Georgian windows overlooking a small lake.

The small lake at the front, pretty as it is, merely prepares you for the large and beautiful lake at the rear of the property which seems at an almost dangerously high level relative to the house. This because the hotel is on the site of a former gunpowder mill, and the height of the lake used to provide the power to drive the mill wheels. Now all is tranquil, and there's a lovely electric Victorian pleasure launch which must be perfect for summer picnics on the water.

Powder Mill BedroomI asked for a sneak preview of some of the rooms and of the ones I saw, all were different, furnished with lovely antiques and books, making you feel like a guest at a traditional English country house party. The grounds are part of the the original battle fields of the Battle of Hastings when William of Normandy conquered the Saxon King Harold to gain the throne of England in 1066.

We called in for lunch, which was quite busy for a midweek afternoon, but not so surprising when you find that Chef Daniel Ayton's well planned menu costs £14.95. There are six dishes to chose from in each of the three courses and I think the locals must be guarding a closely kept secret!

The starters were all classics, well chosen for lunchtime, but each had a little twist of originality. We had two home made charcuterie dishes - a superbly constructed game pie with generous slices of duck, pigeon and other meats which must have sat under a ton weight to get them all to stick together and amalgamate without having to be drowned in jelly.

My son had the rillette of pork, again this had the copy book texture and both dishes had their own delicious hone made chutneys - red plum to match the darker game pie, and apricot to partner the paler pork. Our friend had the roasted pepper and tomato soup which had the most concentrated flavour and velvety texture. I noticed a very prettily arranged tomato and mozzarella salad with generous parmesan shavings and pesto dressing being delivered to the next table.

After a tough decision (he'd dallied with the roast Romney Marsh Lamb, a local speciality) our friend thought he'd get off lightly with the salmon, but this was a generous tranch served skin side up, well caramelised and presented very gracefully with spinach and pasatta. My son had seared calves liver with a red onion confit that tasted as if very good balsamic had been used in its preparation - he would probably have preferred the traditional mash instead of the Puy lentils which he claims to have tired of - the poor boy lives in the South of France, breaks your heart doesn't it! But the side dish of saffron infused potatoes we all had were a real delight.

A breast of guinea fowl had a lovely brown finish to the skin, but it was the garnish of lightly panfried chestnuts and artichokes that really took my fancy. I'll see if I can cajole Daniel into letting us take a peek at his recipe for this!

There's a warning on the menu that all the desserts are made to order "for maximum presentation". I asked the waiter if the kitchen boasted a dedicated pastry chef. Rather, he said with a gleam in his eye, and I hope you've left room.

We were glad for a little pause - if really compromised you could always run around the lake - but when the puddings arrived they were yet another piece of evidence to support the view that there is a serious revolution going on in pastry cooking in England. A few years ago you wouldn't have found this style and quality outside a few places mainly in London. The inspiration of great chefs like Albert Roux and Anton Mosimann is diffusing throughout the country.

Just take a look at this selection:

  • Passionfruit Delice with a Zespri sorbet and raspberry coulis
  • Lychee and coconut creme brulée with a mixed fruit berry coulis
  • Selection of Powder Mills sorbets with mixed fruit (Nick had this and loved it!)
  • Muscat wine panacotta with roasted fig and orange sesame tuille
  • Bitter chocolate silken tart with tangy mandarin sorbet - divine, I had that one!
Powder Mills CourtyardI've been racking my brains to find something to criticise, but I really couldn't fault this meal. And at £14.95 it's a steal! The service was charming, and the wine list was good, it being lunchtime and with myself in the driving seat we didn't really put it to the test.

If you want a relaxing and luxurious stay in lovely country with super food as well, this is the place to take a break.
Clifford Mould October 1999

Powder Mills Hotel, Powdermill Lane, Battle, East Sussex TN330SP
Tel: 01424 775511 Fax: 774540
Dinner Menu: 2 courses £22.50, 3 for £25.50
Single rooms £60 - £75
Doubles £85 - £120 Junior Suites from £150
Room rates include full English breakfast and VAT.

UK Restaurant Reviews – The Best Of The Dine Online Restaurant Reviews 2001 - 2010

Your comments please!

Email us your suggestions, reviews, comments.

We very much want to hear your comments on restaurants you have visited, wines you have tried. Maybe you disagree with us, or perhaps you want to recommend a place we haven't yet covered. Email us at with all your suggestions, reviews, comments.

Back to Dine Online Home Page

Copyright © 2007 MidasCode Ltd

Views or opinions expressed by authors are not necessarily those of the publishers, Midascode Ltd.
While every care is taken in compiling this publication, the publishers cannot assume responsibility for any effects arising therefrom.

MidasCode Ltd
5 & 6 The Azure Suites, Churchill Court, 112 The Street, Rustington, W Sussex BN16 3DA
Tel: 01903 779538 International: +44 1903 779538 - Fax: 01903 856683 – Mobile: 07860 899235 – International +44 7860 899235

Want your Restaurant Reviewed? Send requests to

Registerd Office: Highland House, Mayflower Close, Chandlersford, Eastleigh, Hampshire, SO53 4AR - Company No 05916096

Grape Seed Extract | Collecting Debt | Food Gadgets