Julie Burchill – The garden of delights

Intrepid gourmand Julie Burchill explores lunch at Jeremy’s at Borde Hill

Photos: Julia Claxton

I’ve never really been ‘at one’ with the natural world – as a teenager my favourite book was Against Nature by Huysmans (‘you may know it by the original French title, A Rebours, Maman!’ I would taunt my hard-working blue-collar mother from my darkened bedroom when she came to plead with me yet again to get a Saturday job) and since then I’ve pretty much stuck to my man-made, non-biodegradable guns.

So when I was asked if I wanted to go to Jeremy’s restaurant in Borde Hill Gardens, a mere skip along the primrose path from my beloved Brighton, I was initially unsure.

But my best friend The Botanist was very excited about seeing the blooms; I adore The Botanist, and feel that she will probably be to me what The Blonde is to A.A Gill on his chow-outings.

She really is the ideal companion; not only does she NOT DRINK ALCOHOL so I get hers when there’s any buckshee booze about, but she also drives a car AND has a disabled sticker, so we can PARK ANYWHERE, like royalty!

Chef-Jimmy-picking-herbs-from-Jeremy's-garden-cutWhen she asked me recently if we would still be bezzies if she didn’t have this wonderful benefit, I answered kindly ‘Of course!’ before adding ‘But we probably wouldn’t see QUITE as much of each other – especially in inclement weather when I don’t much care for walking.’ Well, they do say that honesty is the best policy. And Jeremy’s boasts two AA Rosettes and a Regional Restaurant of the Year Award – surely for this I could put aside my beef with bucolicism for a few hours?

Champagne is, like Marxism, one of those things which always promises far more than it delivers, but as F.Scott Fitzgerald said of America, a shimmering sliver of it before luncheon symbolizes ‘a willingness of the heart’ – especially so when I get The Botanist’s glass as well as my own.

I do like a grey-painted bar; I always find that only inherently dull people dislike neutral colours, whereas interesting ones find them an agreeable backdrop against which to repeatedly burst forth as a revelation. We were shown to a shiny table in a light-filled room, just the righte side of Ye Olde.

The bread was the first sign that we were somewhere special; it tasted like sexy cake, like some flashback Marie Antoinette might have had just before execution. This earthy opulence set the tone of the meal; The Botanist’s spinach soup was like eating velvet and thus vaguely obscene, while my tempura seafood was like having an indecent proposal whispered into one’s mouth by a short-sighted pervert.

The Botanist reported that her potato rosti was so succulent it needed no chewing, which sounded like a recommendation to some poor soul in their dotage, on their deathbed or both, but I’m sure was meant well.

[pullquote position=”right”]My hake was so fresh that I half-expected it to jump up and plead ‘Please don’t eat me!‘ but sadly so delicious that I would probably have given it a dry slap and done it anyway.[/pullquote]

Desserts – chocolate brownie with buttermilk ice cream and pine nut cake with port and fig – were so perfect that I briefly considered breaking the habit of a lifetime and running out into the glorious gardens lisping ‘Hello trees, hello flowers!’ a la Molesworth.

Indeed, I had promised my abstentious amigo a quick stroll around the grounds, but the elements were on my side and as we made to leave the heavens opens came – proof that the rain rains on the just and the unjust, as The Botanist and I scampered to her car. So, a perfect luncheon indeed.

Jeremy’s Restaurant
Borde Hill, Borde Hill Gardens
Haywards Heath
West Sussex
RH16 1XP


About Julie Burchill
The queen of the quip needs no introduction. Julie Burchill has been writing since she could sashay, and her career as an international journalist and serial agitator resonates with aplomb. We count ourselves lucky to have her on the team