Two to Four, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 1BL - restaurant review

With its mouth watering menu and beautiful presentation, Two to Four in Dorking has people going back time and again. Restaurant critic John Hughes paid a visit - and went away contented

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2007

Reviewed: Two to Four. 2-4 West Street, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 1BL. Tel: 01306 889923.

With its mouth watering menu and beautiful presentation, Two to Four in Dorking has people going back time and again. Restaurant critic John Hughes paid a visit - and went away contented

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Located in a beautiful old building, Two to Four is a bright, modern restaurant tucked away in the antique shop end of Dorking (at 2-4 West Street - hence the name). Stylishly laid out over three floors, it was relatively quiet the night we visited so everyone was seated together in the smaller room at ground level. It created an unexpectedly warm and bustling ambience for a Thursday evening. The a la carte is not extensive but head chef Rob Gathercole changes it regularly, and it is complemented by a blackboard menu. Together, the choice is ample even for regulars, of which there seem to be plenty judging by snippets of conversation overheard at other tables. Prices are reasonable and welcomingly unfussy with all starters at �7.50 and main courses �17.50 (a la carte) or �14.95 (blackboard). My daughter Helen came along both to dine and take photographs. She started with the Thai crab cakes, with watercress, mango and shaved coconut salad, which was colourful and brimming with flavours. I chose a rather filling and richly spiced Mediterranean fish soup served in truly traditional French style with croutons and aioli, a sauce with the colour and texture of mustard but refreshingly cool on the palate. For my main course, I went for the chargrilled fillet of beef, cooked medium, with seared foie gras, caramelised chicory, chive mash and sweet shallot jus, and very fine it was too - the combination in one mouthful was quite superb. Helen fared even better with confit of duck leg, sweet potato fondant, green beans and plum chutney. The duck was full flavoured and co-operated by falling off the bone at the touch of a knife. She savoured every moment. This, we were told, was a dish that Rob has perfected over many years, including his time at The Dining Room in Reigate as head chef to Tony Tobin (Ready Steady Cook fame). The wine list at Two to Four offers a good choice and reflects the mid-range price of the food; in other words not too high at the top end. I selected a bottle of Domain du Vissoux 2005, Beaujolais Cuvee Traditionelle, for its balance of dark ripe fruit and crisp acidity - very satisfying and, I felt, well priced at just under �20. Desserts are, of course, compulsory when dining at this level. When mine arrived, my eyes and nose were at odds with each other - I saw rice pudding topped with strawberry compote and pink champagne rhubarb, but I could smell only the oranges with which the rice was scented. Not that the taste buds minded - it was delicious, as was Helen's chocolate truffle torte with fresh raspberries and crme fraiche. Two to Four was a delightful dining experience. The service was spot on and so too was the food; nor will dinner there break the bank. Curiously, the thing that stuck in our minds on the way home was a detail - a side order that turned out to be a gem; crispy courgettes, cut into strips and fried in light batter (tempura in other words). Very more-ish and not to be missed. Our Choice Starters Mediterranean Fish Soup �7.50 Thai Spiced Crab Cakes �7.50 Main Courses Chargrilled Fillet of Beef �17.95 Confit Duck Leg �14.95 Desserts Orange Scented Rice Pudding �6.50 Chocolate Truffle Torte �6.50 Wine Beaujolais Cuvee Traditionelle �19 Domaine du Vissoux 2005 The verdict Food and wine 9/10 Venue 8/10 Service 9/10

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