IN TASTE we have covered chain restaurants before with the Gourmand getting mixed results.

When The Gourmand visited the Cuckmere Inn last time it was a little bit of a disaster as it was a busy time of year. Tables were not being cleared and there were clearly not enough staff.

That had been a real shame as previous visits to the Cuckmere had gone very well.

It was with that in mind that we wanted to give the Vintage Inns brand another go. The Smuggler’s Rest in Peacehaven therefore came to mind.

The Smuggler’s Rest pub restaurant was formerly known as the Badgers Watch and before that, the Lifeboat Inn, as it funded the first local lifeboat.

Nowadays it is an identikit Vintage Inns pub restaurant. It has a huge car park on the seafront and the place looks lovely, aside from the empty drinks cans left in the hanging baskets.

There is a lovely outside seating area looking out across the Channel.

It was too chilly or us at the time but one could imagine it being wonderful on a sunny afternoon. Some smokers were braving it.

When the Gourmand walked in he had a double-take as it felt so much like he had wandered into the Cuckmere. The entry and the bar look so similar and it is a similar size too.

We were given a lukewarm welcome by staff and then given the choice of bar or waitress service.

The waitress who served us for the evening was very helpful and polite, though again she seemed a little rushed.

I asked her which dish was creating the lovely garlic and seafood smell in the room and was advised it was the black pearl scallops and prawns in garlic butter with rustic bread.

So I went for it.

It didn’t live up to the mouth watering aroma. And most disappointingly it was only maybe two scallops cut in half with the prawns. It was just about enough for a starter and still tasted nice and fresh, the scallops well cooked and therefore still tender as well as being seasoned well.

It was a similar story with the prawn and lobster cocktails, which came with avocado, lobster mayonnaise and rustic bread.

The lobster was again a headline grabber that caught the eye. The pieces of lobster were barely there though, as if Vintage Inns has got hold of some cheap cuts. Again though, it was a very tasty dish.

The theme continued with the prawn and lobster linguine. It was probably not as good as a high-end seafood restaurant but it was well thought out and thoroughly enjoyable. I could not fault it really.

The baked mushrooms starter was very nice and the halloumi Caesar salad was a winner with my dining partner too. It came with nice warm halloumi and generous portions of lovely flatbread.

The sticky toffee and apple pudding was a naughty but lovely dream dessert. It had a Bramley apple and date sponge, topped with toffee sauce and came with custard.

Vintage Inns now have a nice coffee and mini pudding menu too.

It is ideal if you fancy something sweet even if you are pretty full, with a little apple pie, panna cotta and the like.

The Smuggler’s Rest is not high-end but it is a great family restaurant that will serve to brighten up a sultry Sunday.

It just needs to clear those drinks cans out of the hanging baskets.

The Smuggler’s Rest, South Coast Road, Peacehaven

Food: ★★★

Service: ★★★★

Atmosphere: ★★★★


Pint of Amstel Lager £3.75

Merlot glass of red wine £4.20

Baked mushrooms £5.25

Black Pearl scallops and prawns £7.95

Halloumi Caesar salad £11.25

Sticky toffee and apple pudding £4.95

Coffee and melba mess £4.50

Espresso £2