Putting the passion back into the pub - Duke of York refurb, Sayers Common

Every great community needs a great pub at its heart and the village of Sayers Common is no different. Last month the Duke of York underwent a major facelift but the décor isn’t the only thing that has changed. 

Owned by The Golden Lion Group, the firm took the bold decision to shut the pub down completely for renovation and then reopened with a new management team.

General manager Matt Shorter, who was only appointed during April, has been in the trade for more than 12 years. “My remit was to put the passion back into the pub,” he commented. “I really want to put the Duke of York in the centre of village life again.”

The refurbishment, which took place over the first week of May, makes the interior more light and welcoming. “All of the furniture has either been reupholstered or replaced with new,” continued Matt, who was asked by owner Leo Day to ‘put his own stamp on the place’.

For those who like real ale, Matt says that he’ll have at least three Sussex-born beers on tap. “We’ll always have Harveys, and then will add in a couple of others too. But we’ll change it regularly to keep things fresh. There’s such a good selection from local breweries like Bedlam and Dark Star.”

But the major change at the Duke of York will be in the kitchen. The new head chef is Patryck Karwat and he has created a brand new menu based on ‘pub classics with a twist’.

Patryck was born in Poland although gained much of his culinary experience in America, where he spent four summers working in a small, family-run restaurant in both the kitchen and front of house. “Absolutely everything was made from scratch with fresh ingredients,” Patryck explained, “It was a fantastic experience for me.”

Since then he has decided to ditch the career as an accountant in order to follow his passion for food. Two years ago he moved to the UK and began working in an Italian restaurant in London and, more recently, was sous chef at The Grain Store in Gatwick Airport – where they specialise in locally sourced, fresh vegetables and it was there that Patryck met Matt.

“It is amazing to have my own kitchen,” Patryck said, who spent his first three days just cleaning! “Other than throwing away three microwaves (I don’t see the point!) we have a few new pieces of equipment – but we didn’t need much.”

Patryck’s menu includes new classics such as Chicken Burger with a Cucumber and Dill sauce, Pork Chop with Vegetables and, his favourite, Grilled Chicken with an Apricot and Horseradish Glaze.

Much of the menu is naturally Gluten Free including a Superfoods Bowl with Broccoli and Avocado, Mediterranean Plate with Crushed Avocado and Grilled Halloumi and even the Fish & Chips. “It doesn’t take much (if any) extra effort to make our dishes GF, so I like to do it where possible,” Patryck commented.

The menu was devised in partnership between Matt and Patryck, and they are looking to add in a specials board in the next month or so too.

Matt says he wants the Duke of York to be its customers ‘second living room’. With great coffee by Brighton-based Roasted, the place will be open from 11.30am every day and will also welcome both children (there’s a separate, dedicated garden area) and dogs (they even have a dog beer for their canine visitors!) along with their parents/owners.

“It’s a whole new start for the Duke of York,” Matt explained, “so whether you knew it before or have never ventured in – do come and give us a try, we’d love to welcome you in.”

The pub serves food between 12-2.30pm Monday to Thursday, 12-9pm on Fridays and Saturdays and between 12-6pm for those all important Sunday roasts!

See www.thedukesayerscommon.co.uk for more information or check out their Facebook page for regular updates.