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The results are in! The Cleveland Arms, Brighton, has been named the winner of the Best Meat Roast Dinner in Knorr® Professional’s Great British Roast Dinner Competition 2019.

So how did Sarah and Jamie Davies turn this Sussex pub into the king of roast dinners?

1. Tell us about your restaurant. What’s your story and what makes it different?

Jamie’s parents had around eight pubs located across Sussex, including The Preston Park Tavern which is across the road from us - and so, he was very much born into the pub industry.

When we realised there was an opportunity to buy what was then a purely wet-led pub and breathe a new lease of life into the building, we decided to take ownership of The Cleveland Arms. For the past two years, we have renovated, rejuvenated and established it as a community-driven pub, supporting local schools, clubs and businesses and using locally-sourced produce wherever possible. 

2. What do people love about your menu? How often is your menu updated? Is there a time of the year when your dishes are most popular?

Our kitchen is small but we are really proud of what we produce in there. We take pride in the fact that everything is homemade, and everything is as local as it can be, even the drinks – the bitters are Sussex bitters, Harvey’s, Dark Star, etc.

We update the menu 3 to 4 times a year. This is to tailor our dishes to the best produce available for the time of year. This also keeps our customers interested.

Our roasts are a winner in the winter, our stews and homemade pies are a favourite in autumn. The classic pub Fish & Chips is top of the list all year round. We always have lots of fresh fish caught locally on the menu.

The traditional roast dinner is always a popular choice, however over the past 3-6 months The Cleveland Arms has seen a dramatic increase in the demand for vegan and vegetarian choices. So now we offer a varied selection of vegan food in order to cater to as many tastes as possible, and this has been received fantastically well. 

3. What makes your roast a winner? What’s your favourite ingredient?

We love the carrots! They are cooked whole and flavoured with honey and fennel.

All our customers talk about everything on our roasts. Time is the key ingredient. We make sure we spend time prepping our ingredients, the gravy is simmering all week, we use the best locally-sourced meat and vegetables. We make sure the roast has colours and you can do this with vegetables. Our red cabbage is a staple and we don’t go overboard with the sweetness. All roasts are served with a thick luscious gravy, light – yet enormous – Yorkshire puddings, seasonal vegetables and roast potatoes.

We pride ourselves on our food by Head Chef Danny Frape and his team, but also on our exceptional service. We have a real partnership between Front of House and Back of House now and it is just working. The team isn’t settling for just doing, they are looking to listen to feedback and improve.

4. How do you get customers through the door?

Recommendations definitely drive customers in, which is why the service has to be top as well as the food. We advertise in local press and on social media. We also work with local groups and this has helped other businesses too. We do a lot for the community, supporting charities or local businesses. Yoga, pilates, local artists - we’re all family.