[Ad-gifted] - we were invited to the preview evening and were given a complimentary meal and drinks - all opinions are our own.
Picture this. It has been seven years since we have been out for a meal as a couple..... seven long years!! The Duke's Head in Crawley Down is somewhere that we have stopped at on the way back from walking in the woods, I used to think that it looked lovely and rustic inside, possibly not even in need of a makeover. Last night the newly refurbished pub opened for a special preview - it opens officially tomorrow and we can report that it is stunning.
The new decor is modern and extremely stylish, with trendy leafy prints, crushed velvet in jewel like tones, copper lighting, metro tiling and beautiful linear, metal chairs. There are quirky prints on the walls, along with these cute little hands and figures, it kind of reminded us of the Labyrinth film.
First stop was the gin bar, we were able to garnish and flavour our own gin with syrups, fresh fruit and herbs. I used the blood orange syrup with some fresh raspberries and basil in mine. This was very novel and they also had a floral wall for photo opportunities.
We took a little wander about to see all the different areas, there is a little nook which is going to be for whiskeys, a private dining area with thick velvet curtains and an outdoor decked area.
The toilets were very trendy too, decorated to match the rest of the pub.
Our waitress Dana, was lovely she told us all about what was available and recommended dishes that she had tasted. As a special treat we got to try the freshly shucked rock oysters which came with the cutest little bottle of tobasco. These were delicious, as were the canapes we tried which were samples of some of the starters. There are a good mix of starters that are non-meat, fish and meat. Starters range in price from £5.50 to £11.95. I went for the seared wild Atlantic Scallops which came with lobster and crab bonbons on a pea puree with edible flowers - it looked extremely pretty and tasted amazing.
Lee had the pork belly bao buns which had a fruity salad inside with a dipping sauce, this was a very generous starter, which actually filled him up.
There is an amazing selection of main courses, healthy options and meaty options including steaks, burgers and fish n chips. I was told that the tuna poke bowl is fabulous but we decided to go for a sharing option - we had the Chateaubriand for two (very indulgent) which is a 16 oz steak (cooked to perfection) chips, mushrooms and tomato with a selection of sauces to choose from, we went for peppercorn and porcini with black garlic - it came out on a long smorgasbord style wooden tray. It again, tasted fabulous.
The mains here range from £9.95 up to £54.95 (this is for the Chateaubriand sharing platter) - but I would say on average, you will probably be looking at around the £15 mark for a main course, obviously going up in price if you are going for the meaty options.
The staff were very friendly and kept checking on us, we had a bottle of sparkling water on our table but the drinks list is impressive with cocktails, wines and beers, artisan gins and soft drinks.
Lee felt stuffed full after the steak, I think the starter had already filled a hole. I however, can always manage a pudding - and boy, they have some good ones! Sticky toffee pudding, apple and rhubarb crumble, Rum Baba. Puddings range from £5.50 upwards but if you want something a bit special and are happy to share, we would recommend the icon dessert platter. It is served afternoon tea style in a bird cage with it is £18.95 but great for a treat. One tier had a blackcurrant mousse with fresh strawberries and mango coulis, then there was a brownie with a macaron and praline ice cream and finally caramalised figs with a bruleed banana and fresh berries and ice cream.
To finish off I had a Raspberry Mule served in a copper mug - this is raspberry vodka with ginger ale and fresh raspberries - outstanding. We were offered coffee afterwards and more drinks but we had to get back to pick up the children.
What can I say!? It was decadent and stylish but not pretentious. It felt very relaxed and friendly, we both loved the decor and the food that we tried was amazing. They do also have a children's menu, but last night was an adults only preview night. We were told the children's menu has a mixture of kid friendly classics but also has some more adventurous options.
Is it expensive? I would say no different really to most gastro pubs, we don't often eat out but for a treat I would love to go again and take the children.
A massive thumbs up from us, maybe next time we won't wait seven years for a night out together!
The Duke's Head opens tomorrow, Friday, April 20th.
Turners Hill Road Crawley Down West Sussex RH10 4HH
We wish them nothing but success and we love the new make-over.