Places To Eat In East Sussex: The Plough, Rye

Do you remember The Union in Rye I visited last year, serving up delicious and creative small plates where I ate some crevettes in burnt butter and a chocolate rice pudding with blood orange I could not stop raving about? Well, the team have recently refurbished The Plough, a fantastic, traditional country pub in Udimore, a little village just outside Rye so obviously we had to stop by for dinner on Friday night on our way back through Sussex.

Whilst I’d never been there before so I’ve got nothing to compare, I still love what they’ve done with the place. The vibe is very relaxed and cosy, the staff are absolutely lovely, and it is very much still a drinking pub with local farmers crowding the bar and cosy reading areas packed with newspapers away from the dining area. And the menu? The menu is what I think all good food pubs should be: well thought out, simple dishes where there are a few ‘restaurant’ options but you can still get well executed classics such as a scotch egg, a pate or terrine, a homemade pie, a burger, a well cooked steak and some local fish and chips, being right by the coast and all.

We got the sourdough to start as we were absolutely famished, served with a good browned butter and the delicious touch of a griddled finish. However, what I was excited to get to for Rye Bay Scallop Week was the simple scallop ceviche served with rhubarb vinegar and pickled pieces, ribboned nasturtium and pisco. It was light, clean, and a very different perspective on scallops on the pub’s other scallop week offering given a luxe finish with cheese, smoked fish and cream.

I’ll admit I was not a massive fan of the Sauvignon Blanc I picked to go with my scallops, so as we approached our mains I opted for a Cotes du Rhone instead which was absolutely lovely. If you’re drinking red, get this.

J had the steak; I think it was exceptional, because I was not allowed any! I can tell you however that the little jug of bone marrow jus that was served alongside had a good flavour, and his salad was beautifully dressed.

I went hearty with their hare and stout pie. It had a rich, tender, generous filling (I’ve had a few bad experiences cooking members of the rabbit family and ending up with tough meat so this was like blowing the game-meat cobwebs away) and a beautiful crisp pastry top. The cabbage that came alongside was also beautiful, tender with a good amount of bite, smothered in butter and I think with a touch of herbs making it so much more than simply a side dish afterthought.

Can we talk about the Creole Fries for a moment? Punchily spiced with a delicious maple mustard dip alongside they’re a must to get as a side dish (so creative, so good) but deciding to switch them in instead of regular fries on the steak was a little too much of a good thing; I think they ought to be a side treat only!

We went traditional with the pudding, getting the sticky toffee pudding which did look rather jaunty with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top which slid off whilst I was snapping a few photos! Generous is indeed to way to describe the whole dessert; it is huge so get it to share, but it really is worth a shout. I’m using ‘traditional’ again to describe the recipe but it was perfectly executed and whilst the menu listed addition of smoked salt was not in-your-face discernible, it happily contributed to the depth of flavour and balance that made it not too sweet.

You can book a table at The Plough here. I’m aways complaining about the dearth of good food pubs near me these days and as it is only a 20 minute hop into East Sussex you’ll be sure I’ll be back – the set lunch menu also looks fantastic.