The Dining Room, Hersham, Surrey KT12 5LS - closed

One of the longest established restaurants in Surrey, the ever-popular The Dining Room in Hersham is a quirky, colourful place full of olde English nostalgia. Matthew Williams heads back in time to when portions were hearty; very hearty...

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2011

Restaurant reviewed: The Dining Room, 10 Queens Road, Village Green, Hersham, Surrey KT12 5LS  Tel: 01932 231686

***  

Verdict: Food and drink 8 Service 8 Venue 8

What we ate: Starters Peppercorn p�t�: �4.95 No greasy spoon: �5.95

Mains Steak & kidney pudding: �13.95 Lamb & mint pie: �14.95

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Dessert Toffee crumble: �5.95 Irish ice cream: �5.95

Drinks Via Fordulo pinot grigio ros�, Hungary 2009: �16.95

***

REVIEW: As the rest of the nation struggles to come to terms with cutbacks, it appears that someone forgot to send the memo to The Dining Room.

Tucked away just off the village green in Hersham, this quirky, pink-walled restaurant has been serving up portions that would satisfy a marathon runner, iron man or lycra-clad Olympian who’d just tackled a few laps of the official cycle route on Box Hill, since 1984.

Once upon a time, the building was actually two separate houses before masquerading, in 1989, as shopfronts in TV sitcom Never the Twain.

These days, you’ll find a homely labyrinth inside, with plenty of cosy corners to tuck into their hearty fare.

Well-humoured nostalgia drips through everything they do at The Dining Room, which is immediately obvious from the menu – such as the steak and kidney pudding that would have made ‘great grandfather’ proud (he’s the one by the penny-farthing in the front room, by the way).

The welcome is also invariably friendly and the atmosphere bustled as we visited late on a Friday night. Set among the rooms of a timbered, low ceiling dwelling, while last month's review was like visiting an eccentric Italian uncle, this feels like coming home again.

Settled down with a bottle of ros� to share, a jug of water took a second reminder to materialise, but the service was generally courteous and efficient.

To start with, I opted for what turned out to be a delightful peppercorn p�t� (served with probably not quite enough of the chef’s mulled apple and apricot chutney, plus garlic toasts).

Meanwhile, Sylviane decided on the more adventurous option of a dish that was christened ‘no greasy spoon’. A combination of best black pudding with boiled egg, herbs and capers plus pork belly and pan-fried button mushrooms, I just about managed to cleanse my palate of the tantalisingly tingly peppercorn to taste the mere morsel I was offered. It was both original and delicious.

When I were a lad For the main courses, we both went traditional, tempted by the tried and trusted classic signature dishes of steak and kidney pudding and the lamb and mint pie.

While both of us found the majority of both to be excellent, we did find the pastry a little heavy on the night – this could, however, have been partly down to a portion size that would have had Obelix casting aside his wild boar and bringing Asterix back for a second helping.

Fortunately, the famous dessert stomach – the one that decides that of course you’ve still got room for something a little sweet despite no longer being able to stand – came into play at this point, and I’m so happy that it did.

Put toffee, apple, crumble and custard together and I’m in heaven, and I don’t think I’ve tasted a better dessert than the one offered at The Dining Room – and again in extremely hearty portions. Sylviane opted for a little something from the ‘when the going gets tough, the tough chill out’ (!) section of the menu and thoroughly enjoyed the Irish ice cream.

With no room for even the after-dinner mints that came with the impressively reasonable bill, we grudgingly left for the cold outside. Anyone who longs for olde England will fall in love with The Dining Room and I’m pretty sure that Asterix and Obelix would have too if they’d stumbled across it on their travels.

***

3 other very English Surrey restaurants

Kinghams Gomshall Lane, Shere GU5 9HE Tel: 01483 202168  Tucked away in the picturesque village of Shere, with views to the Surrey Hills, this enchanting little restaurant serves classic, imaginative cuisine in a 17th century setting.

Albert's Table 49 South End, Croydon CR0 1BF Tel: 0208 680 2010 A stylish restaurant serving modern British food using quality, seasonal ingredients – but does anyone know who Albert is?

The Oak Room at Great Fosters Stroude Road, Egham TW20 9UR Tel: 01784 433822 Specialising in modern English cuisine, head chef Simon Bolsover and his team work closely with local suppliers to take full advantage of local, seasonal produce.

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