The Horseguards Inn in Tillington, West Sussex, has, for years, been my happy place. Having grown up in Surrey, this idyllic gastropub in the heart of the West Sussex countryside was a haven I'd escape to if I ever needed cheering up - or had something to celebrate.
Before I get onto the food, it is the decor that always bring a smile to my face. Evolving on a weekly basis, the pub is full of curious knick-knacks, antique vases rescued from salvage yards, amusing prints and signs scooped at a local auction. The couple who run it have impeccable taste. I always admire how cleverly they pull it all together, particularly at Easter and Halloween. The pub garden is glorious, with a mish mash of furniture, plucky chickens patrolling the grounds, alongside the owner's siamese cats.
The pub uses primarily local ingredients, and is often experimental with its choices, using wild alexander garnish and local hawthorn jelly. It's Sunday roasts are a no-brainer, and the bavette of steak is a go-to. Other stand out dishes include: South Downs venison haunch and their saddle of South Downs lamb.
The staff are warm and friendly, and clearly enjoy working in this delightful environment. It also has three beautiful B&B bedrooms - though I am yet to experience them.