The UK based Restaurant, Hotel and Wine Review

English Food And Wine Goes Down A Treat With French Ramblers

The Sussex OX Pub shows the French how to eat and drink well

At one time it would have been like taking coals to Newcastle, but a group of French ramblers recently walked out of an East Sussex pub with bottles of English wine.

The wine was presented to 20 members of Les Amis des Sentiers - Friends Across the Borders - by the Sussex Ox pub after the group tracked down the rural watering hole at Milton Street, near Alfriston.

Sussex Ox owner Ronnie Waight said: "We're off the beaten track and we know local people sometimes have trouble finding the pub, although they are pleasantly surprised at the amenities and our menu when they find us. So we were pleased and proud when the French group rang up three months ago to book tables for an evening meal."

The group, who come from Northern France, travel to England each year to go walking in Sussex or Kent. They said this year was their best visit yet with good English food and most enjoyable English wine!

Ronnie said: "It turned out that they had been given our number by the Tourist Information Centre in Eastbourne so we were delighted that the staff at the centre recommended the pub to them. We were interested to see what they were going to order and it was a nice compliment to our chef that they wanted our locally produced fayre.

"Most of our food comes from local suppliers who are, quite literally, just down the road. The French party chose pork, leek and cider sausages, which come from the butchers at East Dean, with garlic mashed potatoes and gravy and dressed crabs and lobster caught by fishermen off Hastings.

"Several members of staff speak fluent French so the evening went really well and they had a great time. When we came out to present them with the English wine they all clapped and cheered. We thought it would be an appropriate gift to further the cause of entente cordiale."

The Sussex Ox has built up a reputation for its stock of English wine and encourages customers to taste it by the glass. It has proven to be such a good standard that both the red and white house wines are now supplied by the English Wine Centre, near Alfriston.

Ronnie said: "We know that English people were sceptical at first and a decade ago it would probably have been unthinkable to offer English wine to the French. But people are always amazed when they taste how good it is.

And it is not the first time the pub's wine has been "exported" to other famous wine producing countries. "We had an Australian barman who worked here for 12 months and once we had weaned him off lager he was pleasantly surprised to develop a taste for English wine," said Ronnie. "When he left we gave him some cases of English wine to take back Down Under."

May 1999

The Sussex OX, Milton Street, Nr Alfriston E. Sussex

Our earlier article about pub food and wine wasn't so complimentary...
Eating out in Pubs Does it have to be atrocious wine with school meat and gravy? After two false starts in Surrey we hit on a gem!

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