I’ve passed The Sportsman in Goddards Green, West Sussex many times. I’ve always wondered about popping in but it’s always somewhere to pass; never to stop.
When I stepped in with some mums from the Little One’s new reception class a couple of weeks ago, I questioned why I hadn’t been before.
It’s so close to home, there’s a fab garden and bags of room for meeting up. They serve decent coffee, even though they’re primarily a pub.
I’ve been back three times in the last couple of weeks. Once with the other half for an hour whilst the girls were at a party; with a friend and her pre-schoolers for a sunny post school run gossip; and back for brunch with the girls and the husband last weekend. This tells me they’re doing something right.
I feel like the pub may have had a recent renovation. It’s all dark blue painted panelling, pale walls, wooden floors, painted furniture and brass touches. The soap dispenser in the loo is a repurposed gin bottle (local gin too). It’s not what I was expecting at all. I like it. And it’s big. There are loads of big tables and plenty of high chairs. If you’re looking for somewhere to meet up with a larger group in Sussex it’s ideal.
The garden’s just across the road opposite the pub. There’s a fab play area with tyres and a balance bar to clamber on, a climbing frame with a slide and trees to play hide and seek amongst.
Inside, there’s a box of toys. Perfect for rainy days. My two love to catch up with their iPad’s at the weekend and the pub has WiFi, so Netflix and trashy apps, ahoy. Just don’t forget their headphones if you’re bringing a tablet with you.
And because it’s a country pub, there’s stacks of parking.
Our only concern was the proximity to the road. If you’ve got a little one who bolts, you’ll need to hold on to them if you’re sat near the door as it opens up on to the road. It isn’t an issue now our girls are older but for those of you with younger ones, well, it’s a mum thing to mention isn’t it.
Not all country pubs manage to create welcoming. Some are super aloof and overly gastro and others a bit too “local”. If Goldilocks was choosing a pub for brunch in Sussex, she’d choose this one which is “just right”. Although she might be stumped for what to eat as there’s no porridge on the menu 😉
In a word: it’s homely. As soon as you walk in you’re hit by a strong sense of community spirit. There’s a heavily laden notice board in the porch, we passed a big display for their Macmillan Coffee Morning, bottles of suncream for customers to use on the bar and dog treats. It’s a nice pub done well.
The food & drink
We enjoyed our breakfast and I like that they make fresh barista coffee using Lindfield Coffee Works beans.
There’s a decent choice of breakfasts from trad eggs on toast or full english to open toasts and baked egg & chorizo tapas. I really struggled to chose between the gardener’s slice and the baked eggs. In the end, the potatoes had me but next time I’ll be ordering the slice.
Although, they don’t have a specific kids’ menu for brunch the pick and mix breakfast selection does the job nicely. The girls both had eggs and bacon one with beans and the other with a hash brown. Apart from the pepper, they were really happy with their food and the Little One especially liked that her beans were served in a tea cup. She mentioned this several times after our visit; it clearly made an impression.
Friendly, helpful and warm. Nothing more to say really!
The Sportsman is a homely pub nestled in the heart of mid-Sussex. Kids are made to feel very welcome. It’s the perfect place to kick off a chilled weekend morning or spend a sunny afternoon. I’d love to come back and try the lunch and main menus at some point. Perhaps we’ll bring a group of friends next time.
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