The New Street Bar and Grill may have only been open since May - but its home has been at the heart of the community for generations.
The restaurant’s name rather gives away its location in the heart of Petworth - one of the South Downs National Park’s finest towns - but many will remember the building’s previous incarnations.
As the Red Lion it was a meeting place for locals and visitors alike.
Changing times and the pressure on drinking places saw its use evolve first to a rather magnificent antiques shop specializing in period oak pieces and then a restaurant of some distinction - The Leconfield.
Its transition to Leconfield saw the property undergo a superlative restoration and sensitive modernization in keeping with an ethos that had quality at its heart.
But the premise was not entirely successful - too many people reserved it for ‘special occasions’ and there were simply too few such celebrations to keep the kitchens busy.
So now, with a flourish, it has re-established itself on the premise that every meal is a special occasion - whether it is grabbing a quick lunch as you pass through Petworth, meeting informally with friends, holding that big birthday bash or even organizing a business conference (made possible by some exceptional reception rooms on the first floor).
But the mood is both rural and relaxed.
The chicken schnitzel with triple cooked chips (£12.50) is by a million miles the most popular dish on the classics menu. There is also a rather strong offering of fish and seafood.
However, it is as a grill that it has positioned itself with free range pork chops and steaks and - with a glance back at its Leconfield days - a Cote de Boeuf for two at £75.
We were invited to stop off there for Sunday lunch and there were a couple of roasts on offer - roast Scott free range pork (£15.50) and roast Sussex Sirloin of beef (£16.50). Both were served with vegetables, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy - along with horseradish sauce and a surprising rhubarb compote in place of traditional apple sauce with the pork.
Meal highlights - quite apart from the mains - were a tuna carpaccio for starter, presented to perfection; a chocolate special on the desserts which avoided being too rich; and a wine list that pleasingly was awash with some great Sussex sparklers.
The New Street Bar & Grill is part of a family of Petworth businesses which also include the nearby Angel Hotel, the Hungry Guest, and destination store Augustus Brandt. Each one represents a real eye detail and substantial investment - and Petworth is fortunate indeed to have benefited from such investment.
We were invited as the guests of the New Street Bar and Grill and they were aware of our visit. However, our review is independent of them and represents our honest opinion.