Review: Dine a la carte at bargain prices

Some fine dining in an unsual setting.
Some fine dining in an unsual setting.

Chichester has a wealth of superb restaurants but one of its finest is one of the city’s best kept secrets.

The Goodwood is an a la carte which provides a superb selection of seasonal dishes all freshly prepared and served with some of the highest standards of customer service in mind.

Chichester College.

Chichester College.

But unlike other fine dining experiences this one comes at a bargain price.

Two courses are £10 and three courses are £12.50.

The secret of the Goodwood’s success and remarkable value is that it’s no ordinary establishment.

It’s located at Chichester College and is one of two fantastic student-led eateries, the other being Options.

Options, the smaller of the two, is a bistro in which all food - including bread! - is prepared on site that morning. Combine this with luscious fresh coffee and an ample selection of tempting pastries and desserts and you have a winning combination of student enterprise and quality produce.

Goodwood, on the other hand, is where students are taught the techniques and skills that will enable them to cook modern dishes with the confidence of restaurant chefs. What is more, students also design the dishes that are then sold to demanding customers who come with big expectations of a college with an ‘Outstanding’ reputation.

Like many independent restaurants Goodwood maintains a seasonal menu.

When we tested the menu in the autumn, the starters of pea soup with crème fraiche and truffle oil and pan fried scallops with chorizo and bacon jam demonstrated an emphasis on classic combinations whilst carefully considering the complexities of flavour.

For main there was braised shin of beef with horseradish-infused dumplings and for the herbivores amongst us, not a vegetable lasagne in sight. A Gnocchi Topped Chickpea and Vegetable Pie bristling with texture jumps out of the menu, making its claim to stand toe to toe with the classic combination of mackerel, beetroot and horseradish.

Finally, the dessert menu, all made fresh that day, was an inspirational choice of palate-cleansers and plain indulgence. If a lemon and ginger sorbet doesn’t take your fancy then how about a throw-back to the days of King Charles I with a lemon posset with wild forest fruits. Or, if the temptation takes you, how about a slice of indulgence with a double chocolate orange terrine with caramelized oranges and zesty orange sauce or an individual apple pie with caramel sauce and crème fraiche.

The Goodwood is not without its drawbacks.

It opens only one evening each week during term time - a Thursday - and a further three lunchtimes, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

You have to understand too that the students serving you are just that and this is part of their journey.

But that apart, it offers quality food, beautifully served and in a way that is a huge talking point.

More than that, you know that with this fine dining you are really helping youngsters shape their future careers?

Now that really is wonderful food for thought.