Royal Garden, Shirley Hills CR0 5HQ - restaurant review

Set in the attractive Shirley Hills area, the Royal Garden is a Chinese restaurant that has welcomed its fair share of famous names over the years. Surrey Life restaurant reviewer JOHN HUGHES paid a visit to see if it lived up to the billing

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2010

Restaurant review: Royal Garden Restaurant, Shirley Hills Road, Shirley Hills, Surrey CR0 5HQ Tel: 0208 654 6491

Set in the attractive Shirley Hills area, the Royal Garden is a Chinese restaurant that has welcomed its fair share of famous names over the years. Surrey Life restaurant reviewer JOHN HUGHES paid a visit to see if it lived up to the billing

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Verdict

Food and drink 6Service 8Venue 9

What we ate

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StartersSeafood Platter (minimum two people) �8.50 each Main CoursesSizzling Three Kinds �8Prawns in Satay Sauce �7.50Special Fried Rice �4.50Special Fried Noodles �6

DessertsLychee Fritters �3.50Banana Fritters �3

DrinksAlsace Gew�rztraminer Medaille-D’Or, Cave Vinicole de Ribeauville �21

REVIEW: Not having reviewed a Chinese restaurant for Surrey Life before, I decided to select one based on a spot of internet research, rather than the usual recommendations or personal experience.

After much deliberation (and there are plenty to choose from!), I settled on the Royal Garden Restaurant in Shirley Hills. Tucked away in a beautiful location, at the end of a drive in a woodland area, they have been serving Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine for nigh on 20 years.

The dining area is spacious – about 120 seats – and the Royal Garden do a brisk business in party bookings, private functions, corporate lunches and weddings, especially with no near neighbours to worry about. But for two people, it didn’t feel any less intimate.

Choice of menusThere are various menus including special promotions and a separate vegetarian one, but the main � la carte is comprehensive and moderately priced, with some nice set menus of which the Royal Feast is apparently a favourite.

To start with, Helen and I chose to share the Seafood Platter, which is only available for a minimum of two people. The selection consisted of spicy squid, sesame prawns, seaweed, fish cakes, scallops and crispy sweet crackers, served plainly on a round plate. Some of the selection was tastier than others but it was a generous portion for a starter.

For the main course, I went for Sizzling Three Kinds (beef, chicken and prawns all cooked with spring onions and ginger) with Special Fried Rice, while Helen tucked into Prawns in Satay Sauce and Special Fried Noodles – Cantonese style.

All fairly standard fare but I wanted to sample familiar dishes to see whether the presentation and quality differed from restaurants I frequent and enjoy around my own part of Surrey in Reigate. The conclusion? Hmm, no real difference; our meals were pleasant enough, though perhaps lacking that certain wow factor we’d been hoping for. But then again, I suppose with Chinese, perhaps it’s tricky to do anything vastly different from the norm.

For dessert, we chose lychee fritters and banana fritters, respectively, which rounded off the meal nicely.

Hall of fameBy nature a red wine man, I thought however that white would complement the cuisine better on this occasion and chose a fruity, aromatic wine from Alsace – a Gew�rztraminer in fact, probably the most famous of Alsace wines. Not bad and certainly the full bodied, powerful flavour was right for the seafood elements of the meal. But overall, just a bit too fruity and too aromatic for my taste.

I have to confess that one of the selling points for choosing the Royal Garden online had been the impressive list of famous names who have dined there – Ian Wright, Ronnie Corbett, Boney M, Frank Bruno, The Incredible Hulk (yes, really!), and best of all... Star Wars’ R2-D2 and C-3PO.

May the forks be with you... or rather chopsticks!

3 other great Chinese restaurants in Surrey

Charlie Choy’sThe Centrium, Victoria Road, Woking GU22 7PB Tel: 01483 772666Charlie Choy’s flagship restaurant opened in March 2008, bringing together dishes from China, India, Thailand and Europe.

Good Earth14-18 High Street, Esher KT10 9RTTel: 01372 462489With over 25 years of history, the Good Earth restaurants are renowned for their high quality fare and creative menus.

Four Regions102-104 Kew Road, Richmond TW9 2PQTel: 0208 940 9044A handy place for dinner if you’re off to Richmond Theatre for the evening, this stylish Chinese has reliably high food standards.

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