48 High Street, Esher, Surrey KT10 9QY
Sustainability is high on the menu here from British sourced ingredients to using local trades people plus utilising up-cycled fixtures and fittings!
The upside: Genuinely friendly staff and Members of the Sustainable Restaurant Association
The downside: The large menu might be off-putting but they do make almost everything in house here fresh to order including bread
The flipside: An independent business showing that sustainability and the economic pressures of running a restaurant can mesh!
It’s a real treat to review a business that is so keen to be green. The previous tenant at this venue in Esher was Daylesford Organic (prices apparently too high hence its demise) who lasted just ten months so I was keen to see what would replace it. Sadly the organic and sustainable fixtures and fittings were stripped out but no matter new owner Reza Amini has created his own unique space. A former civil engineer he started in the restaurant trade in 1996.
The ethos here is set around three key areas; society, environment and sourcing. To fulfil this only local tradesmen are used and most of the materials used in the refit are from recycled sources. For example the tiles used under bar, and the table-tops and the wooden walls have been salvaged. On the menu examples of their commitment to sourcing meat comes from local farms in Herefordshire and free-range chicken from a farm in Windsor. Coffee comes from a local roaster in Surbiton and tea from English company Novus.
Arriving on a sunny lunchtime we sat near the big windows that had been opened up creating a gorgeous early summer breeze. The décor is predominantly wood with reinforcing messages of their goals. A welcome splash of colour comes from the retro bright red coffee machine. The decor is industrial with exposed pipe work and a mix of metal and wood. I suspect that in the winter this could be a dark space as the restaurant is a large rectangle with windows only at the front. For evening dining it’s probably perfect with overhead lights at each table.
My dining partner Libby and I decided to go for dishes from the main menu and the 2 course lunch menu (£9.90). Wild boar scotch egg with mustard mayonnaise caught my eye (£6.55) while Libby chose crostini with goats cheese and caramelised red onion.
The scotch egg was warm, flavoursome and in need of the mayonnaise which added an additional and complimentary layer of flavour. Meltingly gooey goats cheese with sweet onions is hard to beat and the crostini was a hit. Pleased with our choice of starters we were given the perfect break before our mains arrived. We asked for tap water and were given filtered water in a recyclable bottle. This, the waiter added, was part of their commitment to sustainability. For mains I went for grilled piri piri chicken (£11.90) and my partner the chicken and wild mushroom risotto the second of her selection from the competitively priced lunchtime deal. The risotto was cooked to order, perfectly seasoned and with lots of chicken and vegetables. Libby said it was “the nicest thing I have tasted for a long time” compliments don’t get much better from an accomplished home cook. The chicken was for me, disappointing. The flavour of the piri piri delicious but the chicken had been re-heated and not cooked to order as I felt it suggested on the menu. I had ordered from the section entitled Churrasco Grill. The portion size was large (half a chicken) and I would have been happier with less meat but freshly cooked. The menu also offers burgers, moussaka, tagine and steaks. I found this confusing wondering what the house speciality might be. The accompanying salad was spot on with a good house dressing and the chips hot and chunky. I had asked for a salad instead of chips and Mario (our waiter) was extremely accommodating. He bought the chips along anyway as he had worked out we were there to do a review and thought we would like to try them! We did!
We still had room to sample a couple of desserts. Naively we ordered a tiramisu (£7.95) having been advised that all the deserts were made in house (bar the ice-cream) and a slice of lime cake (£5.25). The tiramisu is made for sharing and comes in a glass tower of bowls with tiramisu in the base a layer of set cream with berry compote and a scoop of berry sorbet. It’s a delicious and indulgent dessert but most of all each element as good as the next. The lime cake couldn’t compete here but it was light and tasty and if we hadn’t been so impressed by our glittering tower of dessert loveliness it might have gotten more attention.
This independent is a great addition to the eating out scene in Esher, hosts themed evenings and has live music at the weekend. Customers have been known to dance into the wee hours after learning their moves at dance classes held here one morning each week. The team here are certainly working hard to fulfil their admirable ambitions and I hope it pays off!