The Good Earth, Esher, Surrey KT10 9RT - restaurant review
One of Surrey's best-loved restaurants, The Good Earth has been around for over 25 years. MATTHEW WILLIAMS paid a visit to see what all the fuss was about
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2010
Restaurant reviewed: The Good Earth, 14–18 High Street, Esher, Surrey KT10 9RT Tel: 01372 462 489
Food and drink 9 Service 9 Venue 8
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What we ate
Gourmet Set Menu, �36 each
Starters Lettuce Wrapped Lamb, Grilled Chicken Dumplings, Chiu-Yim Baby Squid, Crispy Shanghai Won Ton, and seaweed
Main Courses Dry Shredded Chilli Beef, Lemon Chicken, Sizzling Seafood Platter in Iron Pot, A Medley of Vegetables and Yeung-Chow Fried Rice
Drinks 2005 Montebuena Crianza Rioja (large) �7 2008 Domaine d’Antugnac ros� (large) �6 Coffee x2 (part of the set menu)
REVIEW: A Pullwitzer Prize winning novel by the American author Pearl S Buck, an Oscar-winning 1937 movie and, fortunately for the purposes of this column, an outstanding restaurant...
The Good Earth in Esher, which also has sister restaurants in North London and Kensington, has been recommended in these very pages by England rugby legend Lawrence Dallaglio, Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty and Westlife’s Shane Filan.
High praise indeed. And then, when I tweeted about my visit, I’m pretty sure the ‘Twitter is over capacity’ message that followed was largely down to the deluge of positive response I received. Even The Times’ esteemed food critic Giles Coren told me I’d enjoy it; but then he did also ask me to plug his latest book as well...
This all had me a little anxious, though. What if, with everyone firmly banked on its side, I didn’t enjoy it?
Walking in, I remembered I had something else to worry about, too. At this point, I need to make a confession: I have never, ever, been able to get the hang of chopsticks.
So, faced with a mountain of seaweed, and surrounded by affluent race day goers from nearby Sandown Park dressed in all their finery, while also sitting in front of a huge mirror (great for interior design; not so good for your first kiddies’ steps with two thin strips of bamboo) and a pristine white tablecloth, my anxiety wasn’t going to clear off any time soon. All I can say is that I was lucky the lighting was so flattering.
Meanwhile, the restaurant itself was bustling, and filled with couples and groups who were very obviously au fait with the place – we heard one fellow diner say that he’d been eating here for 20 plus years and that he’d be returning again on Saturday (though also being within earshot of every nuance of their lives meant that the tables were possibly a little too close together for my liking).
Nevertheless, once we got going with the Gourmet Set Menu, we soon understood what it is that keeps people coming back time and again.
Mouthwatering menu Accompanied by a glass of 2005 Montebuena Crianza Rioja and a 2008 Domaine d’ Antugnac ros� for my girlfriend, Sylviane, we started with the mouthwatering platter of Lettuce Wrapped Lamb, Grilled Chicken Dumplings, Chiu-Yim Baby Squid, Crispy Shanghai Won Ton and that seaweed – and, for the most part, it all found its way into grateful stomachs rather than onto the floor, or those tablecloths. We were getting the hang of things, I thought.
Aromatic Duck followed: tender strips of meat with cucumber, spring onion and plum sauce to wrap as we pleased and, quite frankly, devour. I was in my element and, with a finger bowl placed by attentive staff, even managed to keep mess to the bare minimum.
Then it was out of the frying pan and into the flamb�-ing wok. The main course approached with a sizzle – twice actually, as our neighbouring diners’ equivalent was accidently presented to us first (never mind, things were pretty busy for a Thursday night).
Our own selection of Dry Shredded Chilli Beef, Lemon Chicken, Sizzling Seafood Platter in Iron Pot, A Medley of Vegetables and Yeung-Chow Fried Rice more than lived up to the expectations and each dish passed with increasing chopstick dexterity.
The flavours built and crescendoed; the meat was cooked perfectly, the veg was fresh and satisfyingly snappy and I even managed to avoid showering neighbouring diners with rice. Result.
All washed down with a finishing coffee, I relaxed, sated, and smug in the knowledge that while I may not yet be an expert, chopsticks would no longer hold any fear. My personal pride was just as out of proportion as the hype for The Good Earth was not.
3 other race day restaurants in Surrey
Le Raj 211 Fir Tree Road, Epsom Downs KT17 3LB Tel: 01737 371371 One of the most highly acclaimed Indian restaurants in the county, home to the stars and ideal if you’re visiting nearby Epsom Downs Racecourse.
The Wiremill Felbridge, near Lingfield RH7 6HJ Tel: 01342 832263 Perfect for Lingfield Racecourse, they recently won freehouse and pub of the year with their food absolutely top-notch.
Indian Zest 21 Thames Street, Sunbury-On-Thames TW16 5QF Tel: 01932 765000 On the doorstep of Kempton Park Racecourse, this place has made a name for itself through good cooking and fine wines.