The Queen’s Head in Nutfield – a Surrey Life pub of the year nominee

A popular dining destination

A popular dining destination - Credit: Archant

Think you know The Queen’s Head in Nutfield? Think again. This village pub has changed dramatically and it’s all down to Paul and Katie Mackay. We find out why they took on this project and what they make of the results so far.

A cosy winter pub

A cosy winter pub - Credit: Archant

What brought you to the Queen’s Head?

Or just pop in for a drink

Or just pop in for a drink - Credit: Archant

When Katie and I were looking to buy our very own pub we didn’t really know what we wanted. We had some very distinct ideas about what we didn’t want, but the perfect pub was always a bit ‘hazy’ in our minds.

The garden will come to life this summer

The garden will come to life this summer - Credit: Archant

We looked for many months at pubs within the right area, some we didn’t even venture in; we knew that it was a firm no from the roadside. The ones that enticed us in the door did not fare much better… once in, finding the perfect business, home and way of life was near on impossible. It had as much to do with that elusive feeling as it did with the quality of the carpet.

When we walked into the Queen’s Head on Nutfield High Street, we felt at home; precisely the feeling, as it turns out, that we were looking for. Yes it was tired and a little tatty round the edges, but it felt comfortable and welcoming.

A few months later and we opened the doors to the public for the first time as the new landlord and landlady.

The pub has been transformed and is now being nominated for awards. What is behind your success?

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We have given the building a new colour scheme, tidied up the garden and employed a whole new team behind the bar and in the kitchen. We now have new seasonal menus with adventurous dishes and classics alike all locally sourced from Surrey farms; some only a few miles up the road. We believe local should mean local.

However, no matter what we have changed, we make certain that the pub does not just retain that welcoming and friendly atmosphere but continually improves on it. We have people, even now nearly two years on, who have not been in for many years as they just did not feel comfortable.

The Queen’s Head is first and foremost a village pub. That quintessential English watering hole that serves as the centre of the community. This was reinforced only a few weeks ago during a busy Sunday lunch when it transpired that all the tables eating here knew each other and before long the restaurant was full of people getting up and popping over to their fellow diners for a good old chat. This was a rare occasion but it bought a smile to my face. This is exactly what we wanted our business and home to be.

The pub has evolved into much more than a village amenity over the time we have been here. We get people from all over, some just passing, others coming especially to ‘give us a go’. We have our dedicated locals who eat with us two or three times a week and others that prefer a diet of the liquid variety. All of these customers make the Queen’s Head what it is today.

So what’s next?

As for the future, we have plans to revitalise the snug with new comfortable and relaxing seating to create a proper informal eating and drinking space. We have already reorganised the new winter menu to offer more variety and will do so again for the summer months that seem so long away at the moment – our lovely sunny beer garden will get a bit of a makeover too. Above all else, we will continue to welcome new and old guests alike and make sure that they feel at home in our home.

• The Queen’s Head, 13 High Street, Nutfield, Surrey RH1 4HH. Tel: 01737 823619

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