Emlyn Restaurant at Burford Bridge Mercure

I could scarcely imagine a more beautiful English setting. Snug in the beautiful Surrey Hills is an ancient hotel at the foot of Surrey’s crowning glory, Box Hill. Better yet, inside that hotel is Emlyn Restaurant, serving contemporary British cuisine.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge exterior

It suffered badly in the floods of 2013/14, with water over a metre deep destroying everything. As a result the hotel and restaurant closed for nine months while the interior was completely resuscitated in very up to date, stylish furnishings and décor.

It’s a lovely sedate space with a few clever nods to its 760 years of history. Entrance chairs are printed in Keats’ poem Endymion, which was penned in the hotel. A quote from Jane Austen’s Emma on picnicking in Box Hill graces the dining room wall. Perhaps most interesting of all is a wall print at reception of one of the placemats Lord Nelson gave to the hotel during his illicit last stay with his mistress Lady Hamilton, immediately before departing to what became the battle of Trafalgar.

We started with a relaxing drink in the bar. Often old buildings are cramped and dark feeling, but all areas are open, airy and bright and the bar gets the last of the evening sun.

bar at Mercure Burford Bridge hotel

To the rear of the building is the al fresco seating area with superb views of Box Hill, the view that inspired so many of its poet guests in the past.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge al fresco dining overlooked by Box Hill

Emyln Restaurant is through a ‘tunnel’, giving it a sense of separation from the hotel. Nick Sinclair joined as head chef shortly after the re-opening and has lots of enthusiasm and big plans for making his mark on the Surrey dining scene.

Emlyn Restaurant entrance at Mercure Burford Bridge

The dining room is a bright space with well spaced tables and of course, all brand new furnishings.

Regarding the service, an old-school ornery couple sitting near us were challenging and it was interesting for me to see how the staff dealt with them. The servers bent over backwards to please them, despite the couple have no cause to complain they complained loudly and repeatedly about everything and anything.

Essentially the man was outraged that garlic bread wasn’t on the menu. Staff, always smiling, arranged with the kitchen to get him some garlic bread, at which point he loudly declared he also needed marmite butter – and they got him some. Clearly the staff are both friendly and accommodating, and more patient than I could ever be (this is admittedly a low bar.)

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge dining area

Menus change regularly and use seasonal ingredients sourced, when possible, by local suppliers. Head Chef Nick Sinclair has big plans for the hotel grounds and is in the process of creating a kitchen garden complete with beehives and a smoke house, can’t get much more fresh than that.

Everything is prepared onsite daily, including bread, ice cream and smoked items.

There’s a choice of an a la carte menu, a market menu (which is a weekly set two £19.95 or three £23.95 course meal) and a £55 six course tasting menu (regular or vegetarian). Check their website for special offers. As we were staying in the hotel we were both able to indulge in the tasting menu with wine matchings £90.

Bread arrived first, with regular, poppy seed and balsamic butters. Mmm, balsamic and butter is a new love of mine!

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge bread and flavoured butter

For a canape we were brought a ham hock terrine with pistachios, carrot puree and edible flower. It was certainly one of the more manly amuse bouches I’ve had and marked the first of a string of delightful surprises that evening.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge ham hock terrine canape

First up was Peas & cheese Lanchasire Bomb gnocchi, variations of peas, hazelnuts paired with Faustino V Rioja Blanco Viura) I had to google what Lancashire Bomb is, it’s a cheese that looks like a bomb from a Road Runner cartoon. Lots of combinations of tastes and textures here. The gnocchi and parmesan sponge were a wonderful combo. A very tasty introduction to our meal.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge peas and cheese

The next course was Black Bream, cauliflower, coconut, crispy oyster, ponzu dressing paired with Dashwood sauvignon blanc. Somehow incomprehensible to me I don’t have any photos of it, despite my religion of taking photos of everything I ever eat. Let me describe it to you: scrummy. The cauliflower came several different ways. One of those was smoked in hay, it was beyond good, I would have been completely happy to have nothing but a giant bowl of it for dinner. And the wine was so nice that I went home and ordered a case.

Next came Quail, morels, black garlic, spinach, mustard seeds, baby turnip, onion popcorn. I found each of the dish to be treasure troves of different flavours and textures and this was my favourite dish in that regards. I hadn’t read the descriptions ahead of time, and had a moment of glee when I discovered the popcorn on my plate.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge sticky quail

For the finale of the savouries, Hay smoked sirloin, Jacobs Ladder, onions, horseradish, ale paired with Vina Pomal Centernario Rioja Reserva. Again everything was super tasty and interesting. I’m getting really into this hay smoking, I hope it’s the next big wave in food.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge beef with shallots

The first of the desserts, Chai Tea Panna Cotta, honey, apricots, pistachios. Super refreshing and light, a perfect segue from the savouries to the sweets. It was one of those food tricks, where by appearance you were expecting savoury and you’re not familiar with the flavours but then it was sweet, but not too sweet. I loved it.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge chai latte dessert

The nice thing about this point in the evening is that we were still feeling comfortable, not overly stuffed when the final course arrived. Strawberries and Cream, Champagne consomme, clotted cream, basil sponge paired with Muscat De Baumes de Venise, Cave des Vignerons. Another visual and yummy delight, with the most adorable little macaroons.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge strawberries and cream dessert

It’s apparent that each of the dishes had lots of complex cooking techniques put into them, it all came together to create a truly enjoyable meal. At £55 this tasting menu represents incredible value, you can imagine what a comparable meal in London goes for. I do wonder what will happen to prices when word gets around, you should go now before it’s found out.

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge chocolate truffles

Bonus, the breakfast the following morning was excellent as well, one of the better hotel breakfast’s I’ve had.

buffet breakfast at Mercure Burford Bridge

Dinner and a stay at the Burford Bridge Mercure is a perfect spot for a getaway in the countryside. Some nice hiking around Box Hill followed by a dip in the hotel pool topped by a superb meal, what more could you ask for? Even if you don’t stay over, Emlyn Restaurant is well worth seeking out.

At the Foot of Box Hill, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6BX
www.emlynrestaurant.co.uk
Hotel Website
Car park

We were guests of Emlyn and Burford Bridge Mercure but this is no way biased my review.

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King William IV

To enjoy the beautiful Sunday weather we decided to test out the garden at the King William IV. Set on the slopes of Byttom Hill, near Box Hill just off the A24 between Leatherhead and Dorking. Public car park on A24 (outside Frascati’s restaurant) or rustic lane parking in front.

It isn’t immediately obvious where the pub is – when you turn off of the A24 keep left when the lane forks and the pub is on your right (look up!)

Please note that the pub is reached via steep steps and that the garden is terraced with small steps in several places.

King William IV

Opened in 1790, the King Billy has loads of character. The interior is smallish but cute with two fireplaces and a fresh cut flower on each table. It feels fresh without being another sterile white wall pub.

For indoor weather you’d be wise to reserve a table, ideally beside the big window in front to enjoy the beautiful views over the Mole Valley.

We should also mention that it has a particularly nice women’s loo, for any toilet tourists out there.

King William IV

The garden is the big draw to visit here. It’s nicely maintained and made up of small terraces with gorgeous views over the Mole Valley. Between the tiered seating and the table spacing you have great feeling of space and openness, even at full capacity.

Remarkably, while busy, the pub is not heaving with people like some lesser pubs in more prominent areas. When we arrived at noon we had our choice of tables, the outside didn’t fill up until after one. It seems this truly is a hidden gem.

Several walking paths run very near (and even alongside) the pub. The clientele seems to predominantly be ramblers and dog walkers.

King William IV

Service is very friendly, informal and plentiful.

There is a weekend bbq in the garden, weather permitting.

King William IV bbq

The menu sounds super yummy (nachos with beef slow cooked for 10 hours or slow roast shoulder of lamb, also cooked for 10 hours.) However the smell of the bbq was a bigger sell than words on a page could ever be.

Ann had the marinated steak baguette. The onions were soooo good.

King William IV bbq steak sandwich

Marie had the marinated chicken burger. It was perfectly cooked and super tasty.

King William IV bbq chicken burger

We opted to share a dessert, the “King William IV Teardrop,” apparently their signature dish. We don’t know why the king was crying but his tears sure are tasty.

Made completely on site, a chocolate case in the shape of a teardrop is filled with summer berries and Chantilly cream then topped with chocolate sauce and a raspberry coulis. Decadent is the only word for this treat.

(Sorry about the poor photo, we were in a rush to eat it!)

King William IV Teardrop dessert

The King William IV is a remarkably pleasant pub. Enjoying the views and the food in their garden is a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon.

We don’t know where to draw the line between pub and gastropub. We’ve ranked the King William based on it being a pub. It’s very nice whatever it is!

Menu 4
Food 4
Decor/Ambiance 5
Service 3
Value 4
Total 20/25

King William IV Byttom Hill Mickleham Surrey RH5 6EL www.thekingwilliamiv.com
Dogs welcomed in the garden