Gastropubs can be very hit and miss at times with menus promising plenty but delivering very little; however, at Duke of Clarence, their revamped menu is a box office hit with the locals with a menu filled with well-sourced British seasonal ingredients.
It’s a venue that is very easy to fall in love with as soon as you enter. Their recent renovations have further enhanced their upscale image: the dining room is filled with deep blue, emerald green and warm terracotta colours. Their popular mahogany bar has been restored and extended along with a backlit bar and the quirky, modern artwork interspersed throughout the room has added colour and character to the venue.
Much thought has gone into their revamped menu with an even greater focus on locally sourced ingredients: Nutbourne tomatoes, Suffolk ham and Yorkshire fettle. I started with a mouthwatering Youngs ale steamed mussels with shallots, parsley, creamy sauce and fries. In another venue, this could be the main course and the sauce is much more flavoursome here, no doubt due to the complex flavours infused from Young’s ale. The mussel meat was silky smooth as well as tasty; if there was something to improve on, the fries could have been slightly crispier.
There were plenty of hearty options on the main courses to choose from slow-cooked ox cheeks and wild boar and sage sausages. I went for the rather unusual sounding guinea fowl, bacon and cabbage pie, whiskey gravy, runner beans, saute potatoes. The whiskey gravy was served in a particularly cute cow-shaped receptacle. The guinea fowl made the dish much more flavoursome but without making it taste overly gamey. If you are not a fan of pies normally when you go out to dine, do make an exception for this clever creation.
Drinks options are just as plentiful; I opted for a healthy tasting cucumber, apple, parsley, spinach and basil concoction on the night but they also promote unusual wines too. During my visit, they were recommending Chateau de Berne, which is an elegant and dry Provence rosé with a crisp, delicate, soft raspberry taste.
Dessert was ginger steamed pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. It’s a wonderfully comforting dessert with an appetisingly moist, sticky texture. It’s the kind of dessert, I would happily order every time I dine there no matter how full I felt.
For a classy, refined gastropub dining experience, head down to Duke of Clarence today.