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“Nice Food but...............” 3 of 5 stars
Review of The Cowdray Arms

The Cowdray Arms
London Road | Balcombe, Crawley RH17 6QD, England
+44 1444 811280
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Ranked #38 of 173 Restaurants in Crawley
Price range: $5 - $25
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Special occasions
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Delivery, Late Night, Dessert
New Jersey
Top Contributor
77 reviews 77 reviews
57 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
“Nice Food but...............”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2012

I visit this part of the UK quite a lot as my family lives there and The Cowdray Arms is a convenient meeting point so I have eaten there on quite a few occasions. When the new (at that time) owners took over the place seemed to be “the” place to be adjacent to Crawley and a walk-in was just not possible on weekend nights. Since then it seems that the place is much less sought-after and on my last couple of visits the dining room has been pretty empty. From the outside the building is a typical nice “country pub” looking place and the bar is in keeping with that feeling. The restaurant area however is pretty devoid of charm in my view. Maybe the initial idea was to create some sort of trendy minimalist atmosphere but that is not in keeping with the building and now, a few years on, it seems that no redecoration has taken place and the dining area really seems a bit uncared for and in serious need of a facelift. The Cowdray prides itself on using local meats and produce and I will say that I have always enjoyed my food, particularly the slow cooked belly of pork which is a “must try”. On my last visit however I started with the garlic tiger prawns which were decidedly bland and really not close to worth the GBP 8.25 price tag. The “Sussex Cheeseboard” is consistently excellent and easily big enough for sharing either as an appetizer or as an after dinner course. Service has always been cheerful but not exactly prompt and often I have had the feeling they are economizing on staff so it can take a little while to raise somebody’s attention as it seems the staff are always busy doing something that doesn’t involve attending to paying customers (don’t you hate that). Overall The Cowdray is definitely on the right side of “OK” but the ambiance, service and décor don’t currently support the (predominantly) good food and relatively high prices. It could be a great “gastro-pub” but right now it falls short of the mark with so many other options available in the area.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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218 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Brighton, United Kingdom
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Good Food - Service seriously lacking!”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 8, 2012

Decided to call in on the way home for something to eat as we had heard the food was good and I will give them that the food is nice, if a little overpriced on some things! But the service was terrible, not even a smile from any of the 3 miserable staff that were working. It was a Tuesday night so they werent rushed off their feet by any means. There were no manners or courtesy and they didnt even come to check how our meal was all evening, there was no offer for additional drinks despite our glasses being empty and we had to go to the bar to pay as they didnt bring the bill over. Very grumpy staff made this a very unpleasant visit and one I will not be making again!

  • Visited August 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
East Grinstead, United Kingdom
1 review
“Excellent service”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2012

I am delighted to say that I had the best experience at the Cowdray as both a pub and a restaurant. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

  • Visited July 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Colchester, UK
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Not bad, but could be a lot better”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2012

We visited the Cowdray on a weekday evening on the way to collect family from Gatwick. We emailed the Cowdray 3 days beforehand to reserve a table but they didn't bother replying. So we thought we'd take a chance on a table being available at 6pm on a Wednesday evening and it was.
The place was empty apart from some staff doing paperwork at an adjacent table (which was rather off-putting). There was no atmosphere, and no background music. Service was acceptable but felt rather amateurish (looked like either schoolkids or college students).
The food (we had main courses and dessert) was good - hot, fresh and tasty, and portions were good value for money. Food arrived quite quickly - not surprising as there was no-one else to serve!
The one thing that I strongly objected to was the fact that a 10% service charge had already been added to the bill when it arrived. There was NO mention of this on the menu, and service certainly didn't warrant a 10% tip. On principle I do not re-visit places that do this, and if you object to an automatic 10% service charge, I'd recommend you avoid the Cowdray as well.

  • Visited July 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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Birmingham, United Kingdom
1 review
“A haven... excellent.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 8, 2012

Called at the the Cowdray some months back, and enjoyed every aspect..great service and fantastic food.... went back this week and wow!!! what a surprise its even better, what an experience... in a few months.. new decor.. gardens beautiful ( even in the rain!!) staff smart and enjoying work without failing to neglet us.... food supurb!! welcomed and most celertainly will return. All requiremnts we had, a party of eight was not too much trouble.. a success!!! Thank you

Visited June 2012
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