A haven of comfort and good food just a short drive from Guildford
Go there for: Local meat and fresh seafood in the stylish dining room or bar food on comfy sofas around an open fire.
Avoid: Vegetarian options: not always a good choice here.
Is it worth the calories?: The desserts are excellent so consider raising the bar on your recommended daily intake.
Tips: Close to Guildford with a decent car park and good food, this pub is popular so book at weekends.
Stepping into this pub is like visiting a friend who really knows how to accent their home. It’s comfortable, welcoming and professionally run. In addition to a full bar and a la carte menu they offer bowls of olives and nuts (from Olives et al) to complement their carefully selected drinks catalogue – what a great idea.
This is Gill and Rupert Ponsonby’s third pub in Surrey and they feel they have made their mark here. Rupert heads up the kitchen and Gill manages front of house. Food can be ordered from the dining room à la carte menu or from a less formal blackboard with daily specials. They source their meat locally and fish comes in daily. They like to follow the seasons and game was just about to hit the menu. Rupert said regulars often order lobster and seafood platters for two in advance. A sharing platter of mixed shellfish including scallops, lobster and prawns is £40.80; the Côtes de Boeuf, a double rib of beef with trimmings, is £45.00. A beef platter arrived for our neighbours: impressive, but what a lot of food!
I was a little surprised when my grilled lamb and Greek salad (£14.95) arrived: the generous pile of meat had been unceremoniously plonked on top of the salad leaves. As this was served in a bowl I would have expected the lamb to be more thinly sliced.
However, the meat was tender and delicious (although a little awkward to cut) and the salad with feta a great match. The salmon fishcakes (£10.50) were a hit, with the right balance of mash to the fresh pink salmon and the chunky chips piping hot and crisp. The blueberry and lemon cheesecake (£5.80) was creamy and intensely citrusy, balanced by the fruitiness of the blueberries; a swish of cream gave just enough moisture for the perfect mouthful.
On a return visit we sampled a steak with salad (£14.95) and a vegetarian dish. The steak was tender, tasty and faultless and the salad fresh and well dressed. However the cashew-nut roast from the blackboard menu had huge potential but was distinctly underwhelming. It was served with roasted vegetables on a gorgeous orange red pepper sauce but the roast was modest in size and lacked both personality and cashew nuts. It just wasn’t great and at £10.50 a bit cheeky. Luckily we had room for pudding. The fresh red-plum crumble with vanilla ice-cream (£5.80) tasted of late summer, was comforting, warming and redeemed our spirits. It was a Greg Wallace moment: he would have loved it too.
The couple on the next table were tucking into a smoked haddock risotto and beef stroganoff. They had just moved to Guildford and found the pub by chance. They thought their food was delicious and we agreed that that the pub, the setting and food are good enough for a return visit.