Martellos Kitchen, Abinger Hammer, Surrey RH5 6SA - CLOSED
When news reached Surrey Life that previous Michelin star, Drakes on the Pond at Abinger Hammer, had been resurrected as a posh pizza and pasta eatery, Martellos Kitchen, we couldn't wait to check it out. Tinx Newton gives her verdict
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2012
Reviewed: Martellos Kitchen, Dorking Road, Abinger Hammer RH5 6SA Tel: 01306 731174
Verdict: Food and Drink 7 Service 7 Venue 7
What we ate:
Starters Ham hock terrine, �4.95 Chicken satay noodle salad, �6.50
Mains Tagliatelle with meatballs, �9.95 Tagliatelle with butter, black pepper, parmesan and roquette, �7.50
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Dessert Campari and orange sorbet with sesame crisp, �4
REVIEW: Driving along the A25 recently, I noticed that the restaurant formerly known as Drakes on the Pond was no more. At first, I felt a pang of disappointment as it had won a Michelin star for its fine fare – but it was quite pricey and, in truth, I had never managed to pay a visit.
The sign now reads Martellos Kitchen, which I had assumed to be a kitchen supplier, until a friend told me that it was actually a new pizza and pasta place from the owners of the aforementioned Drakes with more affordable prices. So, in the interest of Surrey Life research, I went there on a Friday evening to check it out.
My date and I got there about 8.45pm and it was quite busy. I asked the nice lady who greeted us for a table for two but she looked a bit doubtful, which was surprising considering there were still tables available. However, she said she’d do her best to get one ready for us. I later noticed that the opening hours are 12.30pm to 9pm, so maybe it’s more of an early evening place.
We waited at the bar and chatted with a very smart young man who took our drinks orders while we admired the new decor – taupes and creams and pots of dried grasses and candles here and there – before we were eventually seated.
Perusing the menu, there were some interesting starters, and we chose a ham hock terrine and a chicken satay noodle salad. The main courses proved more difficult. There’s a choice of about 12 pizza toppings, but only three pasta courses and nothing else – no salads (not even a side salad) and no fish option. So if you’ve a gluten problem or are watching your weight, you’re a bit stuck. Admittedly, some of the pizza toppings are quite innovative – slow cooked belly of pork or fennel sausage, for example – but in the end, we went for the pastas.
Changing times While we waited for the food, we had a chat with the co-owner, Tracey, who explained that, having run Drakes on the Pond as an award-winning restaurant with her husband John for 11 years, they simply wanted a change.
Now that is what I call brave, and although their new venture is meeting mixed reactions they are personally enjoying the change of style and clientele. Some of the ‘old school’ are not happy but Tracey remains philosophical, and believes that with the change in the economic climate they are better placed to appeal to a wider audience.
Meanwhile, John has gone back to his Italian heritage and clearly knows his stuff. He uses authentic Italian ingredients, including smoked ricottas, mozzarellas, prosciutto and smoked tuna, all imported from Sardinia. The terrine was splendid, meaty and succulent, though we did find the chicken satay salad to be a bit dry.
Our pastas (one with meatballs, the other with Parmesan and roquette) were good, but by the end of the meal I was yearning for some veg or salad of some description. We finished with a shared Campari and orange sorbet to wet our palates a little.
When I quizzed the owner about the limited choice on the menu, she did say that they are planning to introduce more variety. They are neighbours to some great beef farmers, a trout farm and various farm shops, which should make that easy enough. Some fresh local produce should complement their Italian roots well.
Overall, I enjoyed the atmosphere (there was a nice mix of ages at the tables and plenty of laughter); admired the owners’ gung-ho spirit; and look forward to returning soon to see how things have developed at this new Italian eatery.
3 more Surrey pizzerias...
Pizzeria Rustica 32 The Quadrant, Richmond TW9 1DN: 0208 332 6262 Established in 1996, this popular restaurant has been serving the Richmond dining scene with award-winning pizzas and rustic Italian fare ever since. Dishes are complemented with an excellent range of Italian wines and beers.
Piccolino London Road, Virginia Water GU25 4QE: 01344 844756 Located on London Road, next to the main entrance of The Wentworth Club, Piccolino brings a true taste of Italy to the heart of one of Surrey’s most exclusive addresses.
The Stoke 103 Stoke Road, Guildford GU1 4JN: 01483 504296 Something a little different at this pub and pizzeria, where they prepare stone baked pizzas fresh to order.