The Jolly Farmers, Buckland, Surrey RH3 7BG - restaurant review
Long established as one of the most innovative eateries in Surrey, the award-winning Jolly Farmers near Betchworth was one of the first to embrace the pub farm shop philosophy. But its 'takeaway' doesn't steal the spotlight from the restaurant
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2011
Restaurant reviewed: The Jolly Farmers Food Emporium, Reigate Road, Buckland, Surrey RH3 7BG.Tel: 01737 221355
Long established as one of the most innovative eateries in the county, the award-winning Jolly Farmers near Betchworth was one of the first to embrace the farm shop in a pub philosophy. Its ‘takeaway’ doesn’t steal the spotlight from the restaurant, however, as NiElsen Harrap discovered on a recent visit...
Food and drink: 10/10Service: 9/10Venue: 9/10
What we ate:
StartersMistoliva Marinated Olives �4.25Portobello Mushrooms on Toast �5.50Confit of Gloucester Old Spot Belly �5.95
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Main coursesOyster Mushrooms & Chestnut Wellington �12.95Loin of Scottish Monkfish �15.50
DessertsWarm Just So Chocolate Brownie �5.75Two Scoops of St Joan’s Ice Cream (Mint Choc Chip) �4.75
DrinksSanta Ana Eco 2009 Malbec �19.95
REVIEW: The sign reads ‘Jolly Farmers Deli Pub & Restaurant’, but actually that understates the eclectic mix on offer at this Reigate local for the 21st century. For one thing, you’ll also find a farm shop here that’s open right up until last orders (there’s a lot to be said for buying home-made cakes from Betchworth while there’s a beer waiting for you on the next table!). More on that in a moment, though.
Located on the main A25 just outside Reigate, this award-winning establishment is easily accessible, and with more than adequate parking, it all makes for a hassle free visit. Walking in, the feel is very much a mix of the traditional and the modern, with exposed beams and wooden floors contrasted against the leather sofas and contemporary artworks by a local artist. In fact, ‘local’ is without doubt the underlying theme that runs throughout the Jolly Farmers experience.
After soaking up this laid-back bistro feel, it’s then that you notice the well-stocked bar, which features a number of regional ales, and also the ‘deli shop’ itself, where you can stock up on all sorts of local produce, from Denbies wine and the aforementioned cakes (which come highly recommended, by the way!) to chutneys, fresh veg and even copies of Surrey Life itself!
Meanwhile, to the right of the bar, the coffee and drinks area develops into a more formal restaurant, the beginnings marked by an open log fire leading to intimate tables bathed in calming ambient light. The place was busy but not packed on this particular evening, and there was no stuffiness at all – on the contrary, there was a thoroughly relaxed feel as we were led through to our table.
As the friendly staff welcomed us in, the first thing that caught our eye was a large map showing the provenance of the restaurant’s raw ingredients, many of which are available in the deli shop, again promoting how local this establishment really is.
On the menuThankfully, this dedication to regional support doesn’t restrict an exciting menu, which ranges from traditional British dishes such as Famous Lingfield Sausages (from a 28-year-old secret recipe) and Steamed Steak & Kidney Suet Pudding to the more experimental Loin of Scottish Monkfish with smoked bacon, pesto mash and Bloody Mary coulis to the Oyster Mushrooms & Chestnut Wellington (with creamy hot toddy, no less) for the vegetarians, such as my wife Nicola.
The staff were very accommodating of this dietary requirement offering any of the vegetarian starters as mains and even going as far as offering dishes not on that day’s menu such as butternut risotto. It’s always a good sign when you have to send away attentive staff, as you can’t decide between the range of mouth-watering options!
For the starters, to accompany our side order of marinated olives and bread, Nicola chose Portobello Mushrooms on Toast, whilst I began with the excellent Confit of Gloucester Old Spot Belly, which featured a delightful nutmeg puree with parsnip crisps. Both were extremely tasty and just the right amount to kickstart the tastebuds but without being too filling.
So then it was on to the much anticipated main courses. Although tempted by the kind offer of a specially made vegetarian dish, Nicola had eventually settled on the Oyster Mushrooms & Chestnut Wellington, which she raved about.
Meanwhile, I had ordered, after much debate(!), the Loin of Scottish Monkfish whose flavour and textures were more in keeping with a Michelin starred restaurant. The combination of delicate monkfish, meaty smoked bacon and pesto mash, topped by the accompanying kick from the shot of Bloody Mary coulis, was absolutely superb.
It was all complemented by an excellent 2009 Malbec from the Mendoza province of Argentina, although the ‘local’ theme even spills over into a streamlined but more than adequate wine list, with varieties from Denbies sitting side by side with wines from the New World.
Dessert comprised of chocolate brownie for myself and ice cream for Nicola, with a choice of ten flavours from St Joan’s Farm just three miles down the road in Leigh.
Service was extremely attentive and friendly throughout and there was nothing but praise from these two satisfied diners for the whole experience.
All in all, dining at the Jolly Farmers gives a taste, quality and presentation of food generally seen in much higher end restaurants while maintaining a relaxed, diverse and intimate ambience – oh, and don’t forget local! All exactly how a pub should be in the 21st century. We’ll definitely be back to visit again soon.
3 other local produce fanatics in Surrey
The Parrot InnForest Green House, Forest Green, Dorking RH5 5SQ Tel: 01306 621339 Long a place to go for local produce, The Parrot Inn recently added a butcher’s hall and country grocer’s to the farm shop found inside the pub – all produce sourced from their very own farm.
Drake’s Restaurant The Clock House, High Street, Ripley GU23 6AQ Tel: 01483 224777A regular at the monthly Ripley farmers’ market, chef Steve Drake is a dab hand at turning the best local produce into Michelin star fare.
Petersham NurseriesChurch Lane, off Petersham Road, Richmond TW10 7AG Tel: 0208 605 3627One of Surrey’s most popular eateries because of its creative, local produce infused dishes, the award-winning caf� is also a mecca for the rich and famous.