A firm favourite in our family, The Fig Tree has been on my radar for a while, so when 365 was born the Dearden duo were some of the first people I called to go and interview. Excited to learn a little bit more about the brains behind a regular haunt of mine I headed over to the Hurstpierpoint restaurant to find out more.
Can you give us a brief explanation of the fig tree..
A friendly atmosphere with fine dining food. We try not to be too pretentious or stuffy but we want to deliver really high-quality local ingredients in our dishes. At the moment all of the game comes from South Lodge, alongside using my Dad’s Butchery, Clive Miller in the village. All our fish is sourced from Brighton and Newhaven, and for produce it all comes from local farm shops. In terms of wines and gins, all of these are from local suppliers, such as Brighton, Blackdown, Foxhole, Albourne and Courtgarden.
The menu changes with the seasons, so at the moment you can expect things such as pheasant, partridge, mallard and the like. Over the Christmas period we will introduce meat such as venison and some seasonal specials.
Talk to us about life previous to The Fig Tree..
James- Before I opened the Fig Tree I was the head chef at the Ginger Fox for roughly five years and before that worked at Ockenden Manor.
Jodie- We have both always been based in the village, as my father owns the long established butchers, Clive Miller. Then when the opportunity to acquire the Fig Tree came up it was an opportunity not to be missed. It was the perfect time to go into business together and work alongside each other and have our own business together. We officially opened the doors in September 2016, the same weekend we took over the property!
What was the vision for The Fig Tree?
James- I have always known what food I wanted to produce, and to keep the amount of covers small. This allows me to provide a fine dining experience without compromising on quality. We wanted to create an intimate dining experience. And we do this currently with roughly 3-4 chefs at a time.
Jodie- When we first took over from the previous owners, we knew we wanted to make changes to the look and feel of the restaurant, but like many people first starting up, we had to earn the money to do this. So it didn’t all happen straight away, but we have gradually made the changes we wanted to put our own stamp on the place.
How long did it take for you to feel that you were getting established?
James- We didn’t expect the restaurant to get as busy as quickly as it did. We are lucky to have some great local clients and a strong reputation now. We are very grateful for all of the support from everyone in the village for us at The Fig Tree.
Do you guys think that there is a lot of competition in the south east for fine dining?
Around the South East we have a great selection of pubs, and in Brighton you have some great restaurants. But we never thought about the competition when setting up The Fig Tree. We just knew what we wanted to produce and have been lucky enough to be able to do this from the beginning.
What are your plans for the future?
We are lucky enough to be doing exactly what we want to be doing right now. We enjoy our work, we have great customers, and can provide a very high standard of dining. If we can continue doing this then we will be very happy!!
For more info or to book a table visit http://www.figtreerestaurant.co.uk/menus/