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The Pass at South Lodge officially opens its doors with Ben Wilkinson at The Helm as Head Chef

  • The Pass officially opens its doors to the public today, with Ben Wilkinson (previously at The Cottage in the Wood) as Head Chef
  • Offering diners, the finest local and seasonal produce from the countryside hills of Sussex and beyond
  • Monika Zurawska, Ben’s partner has joined the team as Restaurant Manager to ensure a unique guest experience

The Pass, located within the countryside manor house hotel of South Lodge in West Sussex, has officially opened its doors to guests. The intimate 28-seat restaurant is led by the recently appointed Head Chef, Ben Wilkinson

Ben Wilkinson has permanently taken over the residency at The Pass and brings a wealth of experience to the restaurant following his success at The Cottage in the Wood, a Michelin starred restaurant with rooms in the Lake District.    

Due to the unique design of The Pass, visiting guests will embark on a truly immersive ‘Chef’s Table’ style dining experience focused on seasonality, clever cooking and thoughtful tasting menus. 

Ben’s seven course tasting menu brings the very best of seasonal and local produce to diners’ plates. The feast starts with a selection of canapés, followed by Wild Sea Trout with oyster and cucumber, topped with roe, tomato essence, nasturtium and prawn. For main, guests can tuck into a local Sussex Downs Venison with fennel, caper, smoke, and rye; Wild Cornish Turbot with leek, oyster mushroom, ossetra and champagne; Herdwick Hogget with turnip, peas, onions, and sweetbread. To finish, a Strawberry Ewes’ Curd with vanilla and elderflower; Hazelnut Coffee with maple and chocolate; and a selection of Petit Fours.

On the drinks menu there is a wide range of wine from all over the world, including a diverse selection of English sparkling wine, and specially curated wines from France, Austria, New Zealand and Croatia. Diners will have the choice to add on a carefully considered wine flight, pairing the likes of a 2020 Dashwood Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand, with the seared venison and a 2019 Piquentum Teran from Istria, Croatia, with the Herdwick hogget.

Ben’s partner, Monika Zurawska (previously the Restaurant Manager at The Cottage in the Wood and Rampsbeck Country House Hotel, Ullswater) has also joined the team and is responsible for leading the front of house experience. Both are thrilled to join The Pass and bring a wealth of hospitality experience and culinary talent to the Sussex community. 

David Connell, General Manager of South Lodge commented:

We are delighted that Ben and Monika have joined the team at The Pass. The past two years have seen us working with some fabulous chefs for short term residencies, however, we now feel the time is right to bring in a more permanent team to take the restaurant to its next level. The Pass has always been about providing excellence and fabulous dining experiences, and we believe Ben is the Chef to deliver this for the longer term. Having held a Michelin Star at The Cottage in the Wood in Keswick, along with being listed at number 24 in the UK Top 100 Restaurants list 2021, Ben demonstrates the quality of menu he can bring to South Lodge. The Lake District has fabulous local produce, but we also know that Sussex has too, so we are very excited by what he can bring to the table for our guests.”

Ben Wilkinson, Head Chef of The Pass commented: 

“We are very pleased to be part of the new team at South Lodge to reopen The Pass. It is a fantastic venue where we will be able to produce a really exciting menu and experience for our guests, adding another great restaurant to the hotel. It is a big move down from The Lake District, but I am excited to begin working with the produce and suppliers of Sussex.”

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