Cambio at the Castle, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3SY – restaurant review

In the shadow of Guildford Castle, you'll find an Italian restaurant that takes its food seriously – so much so, they even have a deli. Matthew Williams ventures off the town's cobbled High Street to discover the charms of Cambio at the Castle

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2011

Reviewed: Cambio at the Castle, 2-4 South Hill, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3SY: 01483 577702 

In the shadow of Guildford Castle, you’ll find an Italian restaurant that takes its food seriously – so much so, they even have their own deli. Matthew Williams ventures off the town’s cobbled High Street to discover the charms of Cambio at the Castle

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Food and drink 9Service 7Venue 7 

What we ate

Olives in chilli, garlic & thyme, �2.50

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AntipastiScottish queen scallops with razor clams and sea fennel linguine, �9.50Beef carpaccio with Parmigiano Regiano, rucola cress and smoked sea salt, �9 

SecondiTornedos Rossini with foie gras, creamed potatoes, Marsala sauce and seasonal vegetables, �21.50 x2

Dolci e formaggiClotted cream and strawberry pannacotta, �6.95Italian cheeses with Muscat noir grapes and crackers, �8.95

DrinksProsecco, �5.50 a glassOne bottle Col Di Sasso, �24

REVIEW: One of the joys of restaurant reviewing is discovering just how many ways people can find to do the same thing in their own unique style.

So, an Italian restaurant is most definitely not just an Italian restaurant – whether it’s the holiday reminder that is Carlo’s Trattoria on Newlands Corner or the eccentric chef’s kitchen atmosphere of Al Boccon Di’Vino in Richmond; the endless wine list that is La Luna in Godalming or the location of my latest foray, Cambio at the Castle in Guildford, which is even accompanied by its own deli.

Set in the shadow of Guildford Castle, and very picturesque with it, this particular Italian restaurant is located in a quaint, inviting looking, 19th century building. One step over the threshold, however, and you find a restaurant that is pushing the contemporary styling you might expect of a Prezzo-type chain – not necessarily a bad thing, but I had been hoping the interior would be closer to its more homely external facade.

Still, the welcome was friendly and we were swept to our table in the corner by a smiling Italian waiter on what was a very quiet Tuesday night – to be fair, Guildford as a whole resembled a ghost town on this particular visit.

Olives and prosecco (plus a decanted bottle of red wine left to breathe – something I realise doesn’t happen as often as it probably should) were delivered as we relaxed into our surroundings; dominated by a nearby mirror that prevents the low-ceilinged open space becoming too gloomy.

Starters came, with the beef carpaccio simple and brought to life by the smoked sea salt, while my fianc�e’s scallops were perfectly cooked if a little overloaded on the linguine front (the dish could have almost made a main course in its own right, but then what right have we to complain about overly large portions!).

Tornedos tussleNormally, Sylviane and I attempt to choose different dishes when reviewing a restaurant, but the threat of all out war over a shared Tornedos Rossini meant that we both opted for it.

It proved to be a stunning dish, with the fillet mignon at the centre outstanding – in fact, the only beef I’ve had close was at The Wentworth Grill in Virginia Water and London House in Old Woking. Absolutely divine. The Marsala sauce, foie gras and seasonal vegetables all complemented rather than overpowered in what proved to be a highlight of the evening. Coupled with the decanted bottle of Col di Sasso, it really was a delight.

Dessert proved our divider, with me following my sweet tooth with a pannacotta and Sylviane opting for the cheese platter, much to the amusement of our waiter – I pointed to the red wine and beef I’d just consumed in the vain hope of retaining any red-blooded masculine credibility.

Intriguingly, Cambio at the Castle also offers a Chef’s Table option, which sounds perfect for a more intimate evening – exclusive service for up to six diners, menus designed to taste etc.

As for the deli, it was completely renovated and re-opened in June, and is crammed with authentic Italian produce from olives to oils and balsamic vinegars to biscotti.

An interesting mix then, and another Italian that definitely has its own particular identity – with food as good as we experienced, we’ll certainly be back to get to know it better.

3 other Italian restaurants in Surrey

Al Boccon Di’Vino14 Red Lion Street, Richmond upon Thames, Surrey TW9 1RW: 0208 940 9060Perhaps the most unusual place we have yet reviewed, Al Boccon Di’Vino is a literally menu-less restaurant in Richmond. 

Carlo’s TrattoriaShere Road, Newlands Corner, Guildford, Surrey GU4 8SE: 01483 224180Perched by the stunning Surrey beauty spot of Newlands Corner, near Guildford, Carlo’s Trattoria is one of those restaurants that you’ve probably seen more times than you’ve been. Now in its 25th anniversary year. 

La Luna10-14 Wharf Street, Godalming, Surrey GU7 1NN: 01483 414155A staple in national eating out guides, La Luna, which was opened by a group of Italian friends in Godalming in 2001, is celebrating its tenth anniversary. The restaurant hosts a hand-picked selection of some 150 Italian wines.

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