School of Management, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH
A training restaurant that is open to the public and part run by students
The upside: Delicious healthy food competitively priced between 12-2pm Monday – Friday
The downside: Ring in advance before you visit; the restaurant sometimes hosts special events for the university and is closed to the public
The flipside: Holding an ‘eat out, eat well’ award from Surrey County Council means health is top of the bill here.
Teaching at Surrey University this academic year has involved an occasional lunch with speakers in the training restaurant. It is fair to say the Lakeside’s professional team could give any local restaurateurs a run for their money. Lakeside provides a valuable experience for students learning the mechanics of how a real restaurant operates. Supported by three full time chefs, a manager and academic staff it provides support and confidence to students at the beginning of their careers. You might find the service a little shaky at times but it isn’t so different some of the experiences you can have had in the ‘real world’. Here, at least, students will be guided and mentored. By graduation they will have a good grasp of how to work in this challenging and growing industry. All students spend time at front and back of house and in their final year get to run the restaurant for the day. Menu planning, profit margins and service quality are all part of their assessment. These students aren’t training to be chefs but managers of the future. Hands on both in the kitchen and front of house experience, are essential to this.
The menu, which changes regularly, includes light bites at £5 a plate, a two-course lunch menu at £10.00 and à la carte (starters from £3.75 and mains from £9.25). Side orders such as steamed tender stem broccoli are a snip at £2.50 and portions are perfectly sized. Everything is made in house including bread, ice cream, biscuits and chocolates. Food is seasonal and locally sourced too; meat from Conisbee, salad leaves from Secretts and fish from sustainable sources.
Visiting recently with colleagues, Lakeside proved how creative the food can be. Starters included prawn, avocado and red pepper tian (£4.75) a frisky combination of perfectly ripe avocado, sweet chargrilled red pepper with a tangy sauce. My colleague chose brandy flamed Catalan style clams in a tomato broth (both authentic and flavourful). The pomegranate and feta salad with sprouting seeds, honey balsamic and pumpkin seed dressing (£4.25) was crunchy, fresh and healthy even though the nutty sweet-and-sour dressing made it feel indulgent. The effort that goes into the dressings and added extras elevates and inspires.
For mains the fragrant Chinese pork with aubergine with vegetable fried rice (£11.25) reminded me of eating the best Asian street food. The aubergine was cooked to melt-in-the-mouth perfection. Pheasant supreme wrapped in bacon and served with vegetables coated in hazelnut and shallot vinaigrette (£12.50) was artfully served to my colleague and I was assured by the empty plate that this was as good as they claimed. The poached chicken with mango stuffing (£10.75) didn’t have the same presentational ‘wow factor’ but this creative combo of tender chicken breast and a delicate sweet stuffing worked well.
We couldn’t resist the pudding menu and between us chose a zingy intensely fruity raspberry sorbet and a rich vanilla icecream (both £3.75) and a dessert of the day, a combination of poached and fresh fruit with fresh cream and berry coulis (£4.75).
In addition to special events in the university the venue can also be booked for weddings and other special events out of term time. When I went to meet the team they were getting ready to give a chefs demonstration of modern smoking methods. This was part of a menu including deconstructed dishes such as beef wellington and apple pie. The creativity here gives the full time chefs a chance to shine too.
Don’t be put off by the location of this restaurant. It serves innovative food at competitive prices with a menu change every month and it’s open all year round.
Just make sure you check availability in advance!
01483 68 9655