Honestly, you can kill me now. You will not believe it: until two weeks ago, we had NEVER been to the Half Moon in Plumpton, near Ditchling. And next month we will have lived in Lewes for five years. We simply should know better.
It’s not like we haven’t driven past it a bamillion times (to coin a phrase from my almost-six-year-old). And our non-discovery of it is made worse by the fact that meets all LL PWP criteria: great food, great outside space and very pretty. Seriously, I can’t sing the praises of this place enough.
Firstly, it’s about the playground. Which isn’t just a playground, it’s a field the size of a football pitch. It goes on and on and on, and at the bottom is a tiny wooded path to a stile into another massive field. There are beehives down the bottom, and when we went, bushes covered in blackberries around the perimeter.
The only downside to this area is that it’s probably better for slightly older kids – the sort you don’t have to watch like a hawk at all times – especially if you want to get a bit squiffy without having to leap up and save a dangling toddler from a rickety climbing frame every couple of minutes. And there lies my second complaint: the climbing frames, especially the smaller one, have definitely seen better days and feel in places, quite unsteady. But there are also tractor wheel sandpits, a couple of vintage tractors (to look at, rather than interact with – they have their own little fences), and really this pub’s ‘playground’ is more about its openness – its field – and is for taking a rounders kit or football to and running about for hours in.
The playground/field is separated from the dining area garden by the pub’s car park (I guess another reason why it’s not THAT restful with real tinies, because of proximity to the road – although sit far enough from it and you should be OK). The dining garden is all paved and pruned and landscaped in a way that gives a fair few tables a cosy, cuddled-by-hedges feel.
Inside the pub looks cosy enough, but inside is not the reason for this post, so I won’t say too much about it. I’ve read reports online about staff being sniffy, but we experienced absolutely none of this – everyone we encountered was very friendly and so helpful with our kids.
As for the food, oh my. Oh my, oh my. We didn’t go complicated – just a couple of rounds of crispy fried squid with sweet chilli dip to share (above), which came so lightly battered that the black paper napkin it was sitting on didn’t have a drop of oil on it, even after a few minutes. It was melt-in-the-mouth delicious, and the batter had cinnamon in it. Amazing.
For mains, my husband, sister and I went for the ‘freshly filled organic sour dough rye breads’ (how Lewes does that sound?) – his had merguez sausages, harissa, cucumber and mint yogurt in it, and being half Scandi, my sister and I went for Springs smoked salmon and fresh horseradish creme fraiche with pickled cucumber. They came served with fat chips and were more than any of us could handle. And all absolutely delicious. DELICIOUS I TELL YOU!
The kids went for the children’s menu – two courses for £6 – and both had fish and chips with salad and tartare sauce. I would guess that the sauce was made fresh (you could tell from the taste, and of course I tried it) and the fish was a perfect little square on four or five big chips. They loved it and followed it with the requisite second course of ice cream – big one plugging for lavender (of all things, and loving it) and the little one for honeycomb. The children’s menu also featured sausage and mash, tagliatelle and tomato sauce, and ham and chips on it – all posh versions of. The bill came to £64.25 for three adults, two children and a round of drinks that included a pint.
Want to know what the best thing is about the Half Moon though? Right across the road there is a track to a steep walk straight upwards, to the top of the South Downs. We didn’t make it to the very top, but we got as far as to enjoy a view, and this was only because there were burrows and root-covered elevations either side of the path that clearly had to be explored by my climbing-crazy children.
Summer may be on its way out, but the Half Moon is an absolute must for any sunny day. We were back within a week of first trying it, and will be return time and again in the coming months. I am fantasising about being done with the whole idea of Christmas and just rolling in and out of here to be fed.
(As an aside, they do kids parties as well, with lunch boxes, cake, balloons and all the decorations).
Drive: 12 minutes
Address: Ditchling Road, Plumpton, BN7 3AF
Tel. no: 01273 890 253
Open: Bar: Mon-Sat, 12 noon-11pm, Sun 12 noon-6pm. Food: Mon-Sat, 12pm-3pm + 6pm-9pm, Sun, 12 noon-4pm. Afternoon nibbles and fresh filled breads: 3pm-6pm (I do not know if this applies to Sunday or all days, the website confused me on this point!)
Disclosure: No compensation, financial or otherwise, was offered or accepted for the writing of this post. The Half Moon did not know that I was reviewing their pub when I went there the first or second time, and I didn’t tell them after we’d settled up either. This is a place that I want to recommend to Little Lewes readers based on it being unmissable – and based on us mistakenly missing it for the past five years!
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