Garson’s Restaurant

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the new restaurant at Garson’s Farm in Esher’s West End official opening. I don’t know if you’ve eaten at Garson’s in the past, but throw all those memories of boring out the window, this new restaurant is sure to become a destination lunch spot in Surrey.

Garson's Farm Restaurant octagon glass lantern

Housed in a brand new show stopping building, the octagonal room reminiscent of a city market, complete with art deco steel framework. Highlight is the raised octagonal lantern in the centre of the room, punctuated with a huge chandelier.

Only a small section of roof over the entire room isn’t glass. Retractable glass doors on four sides of the octagon fully open in summer, giving access to the patio and views over their fields down to the River Mole.

Interestingly, they’d laid 8km of pipes underneath their fields, and that provides geothermal heat for the restaurant and heats the water used in the kitchen and restrooms.

Garson's Farm Restaurant interiorGarson's Farm Restaurant inside dining area with sliding glass doors to fields

It’s a huge space. Inside, seating is a mix of comfy booths and traditional country style tables, broken up around the large space with accented seating areas of banquettes and mood lit tables.

Outside is a huge patio area for al fresco dining in warmer months.

We sampled a variety of delicious canapes.

Garson's Farm Restaurant canape spread

The menu changes seasonally. All food is prepared fresh onsite. Often using ingredients grown onsite and picked that morning. Most baked goods baked onsite, including scones and tray bakes. Even Scotch Eggs and some breads are made onsite.

What isn’t made onsite is sourced locally as much as possible (local bakeries, etc.) Meat is sourced form a local butcher.

We sampled miniature versions of several dishes form the menu, (fish & chips, macaroni and cheese, burger with stilton, beef brisket and mash.) They were all tasty, my favourite was the mac and cheese, it was nice and creamy with lots of flavour.

Garson's Farm Restaurant fish and chipsGarson's Farm Restaurant potted macaroni and cheeseGarson's Farm Restaurant beef and stilton burgerGarson's Farm Restaurant beef brisket

The menu offers an assortment of dishes, from salads (£6.95), sandwiches (£5.25-£7.45) and jacket potatoes (6.95-7.95) to full meals (£7.95-£9.75) and sharing platters (£11.25). Kids options are pick n mix lunch boxes (£4.55) and hot meals (£4.95).

Traditional Sunday lunches (£9.95), a selection of meats plus vegetarian option (can accommodate Vegans if advanced notice is given.)

Breakfast is served until 11:30, for which there’s a good selection to choose from, from a make your own smoothie bar (£2.95 adults) to a full farmhouse breakfast (£6.95 meat or vegetarian).

Order at the counter and food is brought to your table.

We sampled a few of the sweet treats, including a mouthwateringly delicious crumble.

Garson's Farm Restaurant browniesGarson's Farm Restaurant apple and berry crumble rubarb

Perhaps most exciting of all (for my Canadian guests anyway) is the Garson’s afternoon tea, three tiers of goodies, £12.95 for two people, or with prosecco £17.95 for two people.

There’s also a daily selection of all sorts of treats, displayed on the counter.

Garson's Farm Restaurant afternoon teaGarson's Farm Restaurant sweet treats, cupcakes

Unfortunately the local council won’t give them permission to open in the evenings so they close at 5.30 (4.30 in winter excluding Christmas) Monday through Saturday and 4.45 on Sundays (year round.)

I’ve got to say, I’m really glad I live ten minutes away and most definitely will be visiting. Even if you’re not so close, Garson’s is well worth an outing. I have every confidence the new Garson’s Restaurant will be a game changer for the local area.

Reservations accepted (and best advised if you have dietary needs – inform them ahead of time to be catered for.)

Winterdown Road,West End, Esher, Surrey, KT10 8LS
http://www.garsons.co.uk/
Dogs welcomed in designated areas (inside and out)

Riverside Restaurant

I love the view across the Thames from East Molesey, forget the beautiful bridge or the palace in the background, it’s the boats and the Cartlon Mitre building with the grand semi circle of windows jutting out over the Thames I adore. I’ve often wondered what it’s like on the other side of those windows and now I was about to find out.

Riverside Restaurant from across Thames

The Riverside Restaurant in the Carlton Mitre opposite Hampton Court Palace has a new chef and all new menu. I was excited to visit the restaurant for my birthday. The entrance is to the left of the main hotel entrance.

Riverside Restaurant entrance

We sat in the big circular room overhanging the river, it’s a room rich in wood and cosy lighting, plus one of the biggest rot iron chandeliers I’ve ever seen. A roaring fire and light music completes the atmosphere and make it a perfect setting for a grey winter’s ay.

Riverside Carlton Mitre interior

Outside a patio is tucked between the building, the hotel and the Thames. You could practically dip your toes in the water while you ate. This is one of the best riverside al fresco dining areas around, shame my visit was in November.

Riverside Carlton Mitre al fresco dining on Thames at Hampton Court Bridge

Downstairs is a brasserie with it’s own riverside patio if you are looking for more casual dining.

The restaurant also serves full afternoon tea, complete with divine homemade macaroons.

Riverside Restaurant macaroons

Service is friendly and sophisticated. The menu is modern English with a few twists. There’s lots of fish options and any dietary needs are catered for.

To begin we had Marinate olives with homemade bread, balsamic & aged olive oil £6.00. Our selection was (left to right) soda, Guinness and sun-dried tomato. One bite and we knew we were in trouble. The bread was outrageously good. Forget leaving room for more courses, we couldn’t stop eating it. The Guinness was my favourite, all malty goodness.

Riverside Carlton Mitre home made bread and olives

For starters, J man opted for the Soup of the day £5.95, which was Celeriac. He really enjoyed the soup once, it had a nice texture and flavour. Again was unable to resist eating the homemade bread.

Riverside Carlton Mitre celeraic soup

I started with the Beetroot marinated salmon, capers, watercress, lemon alioli, homemade brown bread £8.50. This is one of my dream dishes and it didn’t disappoint. I loved it, though to be truthful I didn’t dare taste the bread for fear of being unable to stop eating it. I gave it to Jman, who ate it, silly boy.

Riverside Carlton Mitre beetroot salmon starter

For mains Jman had the Whole roast plaice, samphire, brown shrimps, beluga lentils, anchovy & Chervil butter £15.00. I don’t know why he was surprised when it came with a head, it clearly says whole on the menu. Nevermind, once he got over it the fish was perfectly cooked, nice and moist and the accoutrements made it a tasty dish. Most important of all he was able to finish the whole dish after all the bread.

Whole place with samphire and brown shrimp Riverside restaurant

For my main I was intrigued to try the Duck ‘Shepherds’ Pie’, seasonal vegetables £13.50. Wow, I couldn’t believe the size of it when it arrived at the table. Even if I hadn’t stuffed myself with bread, olives and salmon there’s no way I could eat this American sized portion. You may think the dish looks big enough but it was packed full of duck, no mash filler here. The price per pound of food is a steal. As for the food itself, the duck was tender and delicious and the steamed vegetables were lovely.

Riverside Carlton Mitre duck shepherd's pie

It was my birthday and I wasn’t about to let a little issue like being thoroughly stuffed get between me and dessert. Still, I had to concede something and we opted to share a Riverside Fumble, peaches, vanilla custard & marscapone, granola crumble, £6.50. What a perfect way to end the meal, it was light and refreshing, a real palate cleanser and exactly my kind of treat.

Riverside Carlton Mitre peach fool

We throughly enjoyed our meal at the Riverside Restaurant. It’s a great option for both cosy winter indoor and sunny summer al fresco dining in Surrey.

Riverside Restaurant, Carlton Mitre Hotel, Hampton Court Road, Hampton Court, East Molesey, KT8 9BN
www.carlton.nl/mitre/restaurants-en.html
Small car park, can double park if you leave your keys with the concierge, also a few pay and display spots alternatively use the car park at Hampton Court station.

We were guests of Riverside Restaurant but this is no way biased my review.

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.

The Tree House

The Tree House opened in June in the tricky location by the ‘Weybridge double roundabout’ that has seen a few restaurants come and go over the years. The key issue with this location seems to be the parking. No matter where you park, you’re going to have to cross that busy road.

But hey, what’s a bit of traffic when there’s a promise of ‘real food with real taste’ on offer?

The Tree House Weybridge exterior

Inside has been completely renovated, it’s fresh with nice booths and house plants. Yay for sound dampening house plants! Most importantly the double glazing completely blots out road noise.

The Tree House Weybridge interior

Outside is a fun dining area complete with gorillas and giraffes.

The Tree House Weybridge al fresco seating

Upstairs is The Tree House’s standout area – a creche for kids to play in while parents relax and chat. Not just for little kids either, older kids like mine. I liked this place already.

Movies and games are at one end.

The Tree House Weybridge kids area

Video game consoles (x2) with xtreme seating are at the other end, where my children promptly plopped themselves.

The Tree House Weybridge kids area video games

The menu is difficult to classify. There’s a few ‘fancy’ sounding dishes followed by burgers, pizzas and pastas.

Perhaps what is most notable is the number of dishes that are gluten free or can be modified to be gluten free. All pastas, starters and a huge percentage of other dishes are gluten free. All sandwiches can be gluten free. This is undoubtedly the most gluten free menu I’ve seen.

The Tree House is also open for breakfast and lunch. Imagine, a leisurely weekend breakfast while your kids play upstairs, can you say ‘another coffee please?’

We decided to start with a basket of hand crafted artisan bread & butter £2.75. Good but wish we had been offered choice of white or brown instead of two of each.

The Tree House Weybridge bread

The children’s menu is a juice + good selection of pizzas, pastas or burgers + choice of ice cream flavour & topping for £7.95. It seems a bit pricey for a kids menu but you are getting a free creche.

Child # 1 had the Wriggly pasta with tomato & basil sauce. A bowl, it’s larger than it looks.

The Tree House Weybridge kids pasta

And #2, predictably, had the Spinning pizza with tomato & basil sauce. I wished one of them had ordered the children’s burger, as they looked very impressive.

Both my children gobbled up their meals and hurried back upstairs for more play.

The Tree House Weybridge kids pizza

My husband, after a tough deliberation, decided on the Oven roasted pork loin, butter fondant potato, baby leaf spinach, apple compote, black pudding, red wine jus £16.95. It was enjoyable.

The Tree House Weybridge pork loin and black pudding

I struggled with the menu, nothing was jumping out and shouting ‘eat me.’ In the end I opted for baked Suffold corn fed chicken, rosti potato, pancetta & Savoy cabbage, apricot & sultana chutney £13.95. Most likely, this was the flattest plate of food I’ve ever been served. It was tasty but heavy. More pancetta than cabbage left me longing for at least one of my five a day.

And now that I typed out the description I realise it didn’t come with apricot & sultana chutney.

The Tree House Weybridge chicken and rosti

I thought I’d use the dessert course to complete my one a day at dinner so ordered the apple crumble in Bramley apple, sultana & cinnamon dressing, Cornish clotted cream, apple wafer £5.75. It was nice but perhaps not the wisest thing to order so soon after a tarte tatin filled trip to Normandy.

The Tree House Weybridge bramley apple dessert

The Tree House is a great concept. The food and service are not top level but overall it’s a good restaurant that’s enjoyable for the entire family.

2 Hanger Hill, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 9XR
thetreehouseweybridge.co.uk
Parking down Queen’s Road, or possibly in Weybridge Cricket grounds.

Daylesford Esher

EXCITING NEWS – Henry’s Kitchen is going to open a second location, Henry’s Grill in the old Daylesford Spot. You can read our review of Henry’s Kitchen here – ladieswholunchinsurrey.com/2014/09/26/henrys-kitchen

***Daylesford Esher has now, perhaps unsurprisingly, closed. Our experience might give you an idea as to why***

A relatively new addition to Esher High Street, located in the recently completed building between Church Street and Lammas Lane (the two main traffic lights.) Town car park unless you hit the jackpot and get street parking out front.

DSC_0337

This is our second in the “series of places we aren’t going back to specifically for this blog because we’ve already removed them from our rota but we think you’ll find our previous experience useful” post.

Daylesford Esher is a restaurant outlet of Daylesford Organic Farm in Gloucestershire.

They organically farm both produce and animals and make their own bread, cheese and condiments amongst other products. There’s an organic farm shop on site where you can find lots of goodies and fresh baked treats to take away. They also sell through Ocado. Their slogan is “straight from our farm to your fork.” The specials are seasonal. It’s all very Gwyneth Paltrow.

Naturally all this has a big impact on the prices. To eat here you have to be willing to pay for the provenance.

The food here is good and thoughtfully presented in a visually appealing way. The menu has a wide range of choice, from salads to burgers.

Our issue is the disconnect between the food and the décor. When (ha!) we spend £84 for three people on lunch we want to be in plush surroundings, not something reminiscent of Ikea. It boils down to the prices being in the ‘special treat’ category, but the décor and ambiance being decidedly ordinary.

DSC_0338

The service again does not reflect the price level. We hatched a plan that we would send the kids to a matinee while we went for lunch. We thought we would have plenty of time. We were wrong. We had to ask for our drinks then two more times for our food. In the end Marie went hunting for our absent waitress, or anyone, to bring us our food.

The movie finished, our children tracked us down and we ended up sending them to Cafe Nero while we finished eating as we deemed them unworthy of Daylesford prices – even a juice is £4.

If organic and sustainable are very important to you and you aren’t concerned with prices or decor then you may well love Daylesford Esher. For us it’s too expensive to be a regular lunch spot and for those special treat lunches we want to go somewhere that feels like a treat as well as tasting like one.

We ate here in February 2014.

As always, let us know if you disagree with us!

Menu 4
Food 4
Decor/Ambiance 2
Service 2
Value 2
Total 14/25

48 High Street, Esher, Surrey, KT10 9QY
daylesford.com/esher

Cote Esher

Located on the High Street opposite Waitrose. There’s no parking but there’s a public car park nearby.

We didn’t pick the best time to start our blog. Our first post was on the eve of the school Easter holiday break. Which means our lunches are on hiatus until our kids are back in school and we regain our freedom. In the meantime we thought you’d find some of our previous experiences helpful.

Though we’ve decided we’re not going to include chains* we feel we really should include Cote Esher as it’s such a favourite of ours, plus we have a deadly tip.

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As is suiting for a French restaurant, it can be quite bustling at lunch. We like to sit towards the front of the restaurant, as the main part can get quite loud. It could do with a few more plants to absorb some of the sound.

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Last time we were here (January 2014) we sat in the front corner near the big bar. The only drawback to sitting here is the occasional glimpse of a dead body. Yes, really.

With the reliably prompt service, Marie ordered the Chicken and Walnut salad and Ann & Lynn both ordered the Goat’s Cheese Salad. Our drinks arrived quickly, as usual. At this point a private ambulance parked up on the pavement in front. The ambulance men went into Frederick W Paine Funeral Directors located next door to Cote.

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As we were tucking into our salads the men came out wheeling a man in a body bag. At least we assumed it was a man due to the large feet propping up one end of the bag. With the reminder of our own mortality, we were glad we’d opted for salads instead of steak frites.

And what yummy salads they were, especially the Goat’s Cheese Salad (they don’t include aubergines in the roasted vegetables that come in the salad, clearly they agree with us that the texture just does not work in a salad.)

We do not in any way hold Cote responsible for the body incident, clearly next door should be more discrete and use the back door (an alley runs alongside their building so there’s no reason to use the front door.) If the idea of this happening to you fills you with horror, sit in the main part of the restaurant or at the front on the side that is far away from the bar, pictured here:

DSC_0330

There are six Cote locations in Surrey: Esher, Guildford, Farnham, Reigate, Kingston and Richmond.

We will miss our visits to Cote but look forward to lunching and blogging about many more wonderful restaurants.

*Except pubs because they all seem to be part of a chain these days.

Menu 4
Food 3
Decor/Ambiance 3
Service 3
Value 4
Total 17/25

102-106 High Street, Esher, Surrey, KT10 9QJ 01372 462 315
http://www.cote-restaurants.co.uk/Cote_Restaurant_Esher.html