The Joshua Tree, Redhill, Surrey RH1 6HG - restaurant review

A jealously guarded secret on the Surrey dining scene, The Joshua Tree is a fairly normal looking pub in Earlswood, just outside Redhill, that hides a real gem of a restaurant. Surrey Life restaurant reviewer John Hughes lets the cat out the bag

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2010

Restaurant reviewed: The Joshua Tree, 30 Common Road, Earlswood Common, Redhill, Surrey RH1 6HGTel: 01737 211994

A jealously guarded secret on the Surrey dining scene, The Joshua Tree is a fairly normal looking pub in Earlswood, just outside Redhill, that hides a real gem of a restaurant. Surrey Life restaurant reviewer John Hughes lets the cat out the bag

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What we ate

StartersCheddar Cheese and Chive Souffle �5.95King Prawn and Squid Tempura �5.95

Main CoursesGrilled Kangaroo Fillet �15.50Tornado of Belly Pork �13.95

DessertsChocolate Lumpy Bumpy �4.00Maple and Pecan Danish Butter Pudding �4.50

DrinksPinot Noir Valmoissine Louis Latour 2007 �22.50

REVIEW: One of my friends had been banging on to me for so long about The Joshua Tree, on Earlswood Common, that eventually I went along just to keep her quiet.

It turned out to be an excellent recommendation, albeit one that is quite difficult to define – not a gastropub in the modern parlance, though it certainly feels like a pub as you enter, but the restaurant at the back, round with a lovely dome-shaped roof, is a separate entity entirely. Owner and head chef Kevin Ibbotson styles it a ‘bar and restaurant’, which I’d say is about right.

It was an ordinary weekday when we went, but buzzing nevertheless, which always tends to be a good sign. My starter was just superb – a cheddar cheese and chive souffl� with an asparagus and mustard dressing. It was a light, fluffy souffl� with bags of flavour and tender asparagus, plus an unexpected and more than generous side salad. I loved it. Helen tried some souffl� and went cross-eyed with delight.

Meanwhile, her king prawn and squid in tempura batter looked and tasted great (I pinched some) and was cleverly presented in a poppadom basket with a sweet chilli sauce.

Now then, a new experience for me for the main course – grilled kangaroo fillet, served with double cooked potatoes, caramelised onion and garlic leaf hollandaise, and tomato chutney. The kangaroo looked to me like lamb, pink in the middle and with a similar texture, if a bit firmer and a slightly rawer flavour, which appealed to me. Served with a side dish of greens (peas, mange touts and French beans), this was a fascinating blend of the familiar and the less so, and very tasty indeed. Needless to say, I’ve heard all the jokes when telling friends about it, but we’ll ignore those here I think!

Helen went for something more traditional – tornado of belly pork, braised in a barbecue sauce and served with bubble and squeak and crispy crackling. She’d had it before and knew it was good, and even the waitress was enthusing over this popular dish. Presentation was terrific, the meat cooked to perfection, and judging by the sound effects across the table, the crackling was very crackly!

Lumpy bumpy...Helen also had the heads-up with the desserts – the Chocolate Lumpy Bumpy was a must; layers of moist chocolate sponge, chocolate mousse and cheesecake with chocolate fudge topping. Her satisfied grin said it all. My Maple and Pecan Danish Butter Pudding was rather good, too.There are some nice wines on the list at The Joshua Tree, none of them at the high end of the spectrum price-wise. I found a rather good, and reasonably priced, Pinto Noir Valmoissine Louis Latour 2007 – light enough not to overpower the souffl� but with enough body to complement the kangaroo (odd as this sounds to write!).

Driving home, I certainly felt I’d been to a restaurant and not just to the pub. I like The Joshua Tree very much; it has a very relaxed, almost casual atmosphere that belies the professionalism of the kitchen and front of house staff alike. And the word ‘unpretentious’ keeps coming to mind; refreshingly unpretentious.

3 other great restaurants in pubs

The Inn @ West End42 Guildford Road, West End GU24 9PW Tel: 01276 858652This popular eatery offers the definitive gastro-pub experience. With a wine merchant for a licensee, the wine list speaks for itself, while the food utilises the very best in fresh local produce.

The Grumpy MoleDorking Road, Tadworth KT20 5RX Tel: 01737 353529Real ales and open fires, oak beams and pokey enclaves, nobody could accuse this attractive Edwardian establishment of lacking in character. It just so happens that the food and drink come highly rated, too. 

The Black Swan Old Lane, Ockham KT11 1NG Tel: 01932 862364A family-orientated hideaway, perfect for larger gatherings, the Black Swan has a laid-back, congenial atmosphere in cosy yet spacious surroundings. The food and wine menus are both excellent.