Having moved countries in 2017, I’ve spent much of the past year asking locals for their top recommendations of where to explore in my new home of Edinburgh, Scotland. Whilst travel books are brilliant, sometimes you just can’t beat top recommendations and tips from the locals. With this in mind, I’ve started A Local’s Guide to series, which I hope will offer an alternative guide to your travel destinations and allow you to discover some hidden gems that aren’t mentioned in the guide books.
I’m thrilled to be kicking off December with the very first post in this series, from Elle Goes Global, who is a lifestyle, travel and food blogger from South East England. She’s put together a Local’s Guide to Surrey’s Foodie Hotspots. There’s a little something for everyone no matter what the season and a number of places to add to your ‘to-visit’ list the next time you’re in Surrey, England. So without further ado, it’s over to lovely Elle to tempt our taste-buds and let us into Surrey’s foodie best kept secrets.
OVER TO ELLE… AN INTRODUCTION TO SURREY’S foodie HOTSPOTS
Surrey, it’s one of the most beautiful counties in the UK and one of the most expensive, but with highly trained chefs and villages with character you’ll find many fantastic restaurants and pubs in Surrey to tantalise your taste buds and whet your appetite. I’ve lived in Surrey my whole life, all twenty-four years of it, I even went to University here so it’s pretty safe to say I know Surrey like the back of my hand. And as a self-confessed foodie I love discovering new cuisines and enjoying special dining experiences, next time you visit Surrey make sure you take the time to try out one of my favourite Surrey Foodie hotspots.
A Summer Surrey Foodie Hotspot – The Bel & Dragon, Churt
No doubt about it this is my favourite pub in all of Surrey, nestled between Farnham and Hindhead in the picturesque village of Churt.
Stylishly decorated, the restaurant with its open kitchen offers a welcoming and sophisticated dining experience during the winter months and chilly evenings. The menu features a beautiful selection of dishes expertly crafted by the talented chef using local, sustainable and high-quality ingredients. My top suggestions are the catch of the day – on my most recent visit I had pan fried trout with asparagus puree it was simply stunning and you can’t go wrong with the West Country Rib of Beef (suitable for 2-3 people) served with duck fat roast potatoes, vine tomatoes and three sauces; bearnaise, peppercorn and gravy – to put it frankly it’s the best steak I’ve ever tasted.
And my favourite place in Surrey to spend the hot summer days and warm evenings? The spacious lawn with its wood-fired oven and tasty cocktails. Weather permitting of course – but there are music events held throughout the year and the delicious pizzas* offer something for all tastes.The best pizza in my opinion is the ‘Porchetta’ (suckling pig, barbeque sauce, spring onions & chilli).
(*The outdoor menu is served every Friday-Sunday during Summer)
A themed Foodie Hotspot in Surrey Platform 5 @The StationHouse, Haslemere
Spectacularly themed as the inside of an old-fashioned steam train, step inside and be transported back to the golden age of rail travel. Downstairs is the main restaurant where you can sit in booths styled as train carriages with luggage rack overhead. But the new edition of Platform 5 is the exciting development I have to share with you. I love the Spanish way of eating, small tapas dishes served like a relay race giving you time to tuck in, share and savour the delightful flavours.
Luckily – as a keen foodie, I enjoy keeping up to date with all the recent events and developments, so I was able to attend the opening night earlier this year to enjoy free tasting tapas dishes, sangria and listen to Spanish music. The food was delicious, after trying all the tasting dishes on offer, I tucked into a tasty spiced paprika chicken skewer, BBQ pork ribs and meatballs. It felt as though I was on holiday in a little cafe in Barcelona rather than sleepy Haslemere – what a fun, upbeat way to spend a Friday evening, I really recommend a visit.
(*Open Monday- Saturday 12pm-10pm)
Tantalising Thai – Rumwong, Guildford
Whilst there are plenty of Thai restaurants in Surrey that I adore – Thai Bites in Godalming and Thai Terrace came very close to being included on this list. I couldn’t not include Rumwong, simply because the style of the restaurant and the standard of cooking is exceptional.
I especially love the traditional Thai dining part of the restaurant where you are greeted by a member of staff and encouraged to take off your shoes as a sign of respect, before being led to the seated dining area.
A taste of Spain – Casafina Tapas, Croydon
I love trying different cuisines and Spanish tapas is actually my favourite style of eating. For anyone who hasn’t tucked into a tasty tapas yet (have you been under a rock) you order a selection of dishes perhaps two or three each and then share these between your group. Sharing is caring after all! Alongside trying a little bit of everything, you can help yourself to as much or as little as you like resulting in the ideal portion size for your personal taste and it comes out in spaced out intervals, so you can rest assured your dish will be piping hot when it reaches your table.
My most recent Tapas experience was with my boyfriend and our friends at the contemporary and sleek Casafina restaurant in Croydon. From the moment we arrived we experienced the warm friendly hospitality that Spanish people are renowned for and ordered ourselves a sangria at the bar – a instant transportation to the Mediterranean and a real taste of Spain before heading to our table.
Effortlessly blending natural tones with accentuating and vibrant red furnishings the restaurant has a chilled vibe. We opted for the following dishes to share; chorizo cooked in white wine sauce, Patatas Bravas, Breaded pork escalope with ham and cheese, prawns with chilli and garlic, lamb skewer marinated with rosemary and garlic plus an additional little surprise that had us all guessing– is this pork? Which dish is this actually? It was a nice little blend of tastes for our palates, but my overall favourites were the lamb – so succulent and cooked to absolute perfection and the breaded pork – the combination of melted cheese with two meats a real treat.
Croydon might not be renowned as a foodie capital but there certainly are a couple of places popping up like Casafina that you should visit whilst you’re in the area.
Delightful Dining – Bills in Reigate
Now I know you probably came to this blog in the search for new independent restaurants that you simply can’t get in your hometown. But I had to include Bill’s in Reigate, recently refurbished this restaurant is full of character with an eclectic collection of furnishings and a home from home atmosphere. It’s a great place to go for date night, a reunion with friends or a family get together.
A few months ago, I sampled the new look menu and fell in love with the succulent pork dumplings served with smoked chilli and soy dip (they left a fantastic tingle on my tongue) and the Carrot, mushroom and cashew nut wellington. Served with a rich vegetable gravy this vegan friendly dish is an explosion of flavours that will set your heart racing.
Of course, no meal is complete without a refreshing drink, right? They have a fantastic range of cocktails including my personal favourite the Apple and Elderflower Spritz. And if you’ve mastered the art of dining at Bill’s correctly you will still have space for the indulgent sticky toffee and date pudding.
A laid-back meal – Mill at Elstead
Although I wouldn’t class this as one of the ultimate foodie destinations in Surrey or one of the best gastro pubs it makes it onto this list because the setting is magical.
In fact, if you grab one of the tables on the prime spot of the pub balcony you can watch the sunset over the river and admire the ducks playing.
The burger here is heavenly and the gin selection is one of the best I’ve come across in Surrey, I’d highly recommend visiting here for a casual, laid-back meal.
Cosy English Pub – Dog & Pheasant, Brook
Every Wednesday, this cute and cosy country pub holds a grill night where the talented chef cooks steaks and fish dishes specifically to your personal preference over the open fire. Before you place your order, your waiter or waitress explains the different cuts of beef and what flavourings and how it should be cooked to bring out the best flavours.
With rolling open fires, friendly staff and flavoursome cuisine this is one of the best places in Surrey to go for a succulent steak, trust me you won’t be disappointed (just get their early or you’ll struggle to park).
Which foodie hotspot would you like to try in Surrey? Let us know in the comments below. For more Surrey based inspiration visit Elle Goes Global blog and check out her Instagram page @ellegoesglobal.
Thanks again to Elle for writing this foodie guide to Surrey!