For once in my life I was early and arrived at the Chimney House before my friend. I walked into the jostling, lively pub, to find a bar packed with folk nibbling on organic bread and olive oil (£1.30).
The pub's no booking policy was no problem for most, as everyone seemed happy to sit with a drink and appetisers.
The bread may have sold out, but the marinated olives (£1.50) seemed just as popular with the waiting customers.
While I waited, I managed to grab a stool at the bar and was content just to survey the surrounds. However, I did have the niggling feeling that something was not quite as it should be.
It was the lack of smoke. A sneak preview into the smoking ban that lies ahead for England and Wales: all generations were out to enjoy a relaxed meal in the smoke-free environment.
The grans and grandpas in the Chimney House that Friday night mixed quite happily with the 25-to-40 crowd and enjoyed the same welcoming friendly service from the bar staff.
The menu board choice was short but sweet - three starters and four mains and all very reasonably priced. The chicken and sun-blushed tomato terrine served with home-made pickles and cornichons (£4.95) was delicious and my partner raved on about the pickles so much he asked for the recipe. My Scottish smoked salmon with beetroot salad and citrus cream (£5.20) was simple, but good.
And the main courses also arrived very simply, but well-cooked. The tender rib-eye steak came with a pile of chips (£12.95) and the treacle marinated pork chop - which was moist, but somewhat lacking in flavour - came with a great apple and celeriac remoulade (£8.50). I'm glad we ordered a side of summer vegetables (£2.50) on a whim, as I would only have discovered, to my disappointment, that my steak had no greens when it arrived at the table.
To end the meal, we were persuaded to trade up - as the desserts board told us we could get a glass of Torrontes dessert wine with the chocolate fondant and roast strawberries and mango and passion fruit cheesecake for £6.95. The desserts were £3.95 without the wine.
PubChef rating (out of 10)
Ambience 9,Value for money 9,Flavour factor 8,Overall impression 9Beers: Grolsch, Guinness, Carling, Staropramen, Hoegaarden and ales from local brewer Harveys of LewesMain courses: £8.50 to £12.95Wines on list: 6 red (5 by the glass and also served in carafes), 6 white (5 by the glass and served in carafes), 3 rosé (2 by the glass), 2 Champagne, 1 other sparkling.
Another thing: The pub was due to celebrate its first birthday a week after our visit by inviting loyal customers for nibbles and drinks before starting service at 7.30pm.