<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Surrey Life today click here

Red Bar & Lounge, Dorking, Surrey RH4 2DW – restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 12:03 23 June 2017

If you enjoy a lively atmosphere, then Red is well worth a look

If you enjoy a lively atmosphere, then Red is well worth a look

Archant

A venue that’s a home-from-home for its regulars, Red Bar and Lounge, in Dorking, treads the line between lively bar and fine dining. Matthew Williams visits and discovers a hidden gem

The duck main brought a perfect punch to proceedings The duck main brought a perfect punch to proceedings

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2017

***

Need to know

Red Bar & Lounge

45 Dene Street, Dorking, Surrey RH4 2DW

Tel: 01306 882222

Web: redbar-dorking.com

What we ate

Starters

Beetroot cured salmon gravadlax, wasabi aioli and pickled watermelon radish, £7.50

Tuna variation (sashimi, tarta and carpaccio), pickles and wasabi, £9

Mains

Pan fried duck breast, seared pak choi, duck bon bon, butternut squash, chilli and port reduction, £15

Pan roasted cod, chorizo, cherry tomatoes, saffron potatoes and lemon butter, £16

Desserts

Crème brûlée and salted caramel ice cream, £6

Cheese, biscuits, celery, apple and chutney, £6.50

Drinks

Chateau de Haute Serre, Cahors, Malbec, 2012, £36

***

REVIEW: What is it that makes a town or village spring into technicolour life? Investment? Location? People? A mix of all three? Probably. Whatever the answer, in the shadow of Box Hill and the town’s famous giant roundabout cockerel, there’s a certain thrill of foodie creativity in the Dorking air.

English wine royalty Denbies Wine Estate, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, has been joined by a farmers’ market worth of exciting young businesses, from a butcher, beer shop and greengrocer to producers of chocolate pastes, gins and meads. Not to mention chef Steve Drake’s hotly-tipped Sorrel, which is set to open around September.

That’s not to say it’s all been sweetness and light. There have been heated debates about rising business rates and the recent liquidation of the long-established Two to Four restaurant was a reminder of how tough the industry is.

But back to the positives. One of the creative collaborators in the past year’s foodie action has been Red Bar and Lounge. Well-known to those who live in the town, it remains a hidden gem to most people outside. Part of the reason is that you’d never stumble upon it. It’s tucked down a little lane off the main High Street by Cotmandene.

It feels a bit like one of those brilliantly random holiday recommendations that you chance upon from an enthusiastic local cabbie while abroad. “Trust me, the food is great.”

As a building it’s nondescript, unpretentious and the prices don’t give much away about the ambition in the kitchen – you could just as easily pop in for a burger with your pint as a three-course meal. You enter through an extremely lively bar brimming with atmosphere, so don’t expect sterile formality.

Foodie champions

I’d popped in a couple of times over the years, for a quick sandwich while touring the nearby Deepdene Trail, but it was social media videos of barbecuing meat from Dorking Butchery; their championing of foodie initiatives (Goatober, Gamestock, the launch of Dorking’s The Gin Kitchen... for instance); and a steady stream of recommendations that meant it made our must-visit list.

It’s run by chef Eric Hockey and his wonderfully bubbly wife Lorraine. Eric tells me later on, after our meal, that all he’s ever set out to do with his cooking is “make people happy”. He originally joined the Red team some seven years ago as a freelance chef, only planning to be around for a few months. He ended up taking over the place in October 2015. Eric mentions that they’ve just taken on a new head chef too, so the friendly competitive edge in the kitchen means there should be plenty more “happiness” to come for diners. They’ve also added Jean-Marie Soreau, previously of Little Dudley House and Two to Four, to run front of house with Gallic charm.

Settling into the dining room, we opt for fish starters and both dishes come with a lip-smacking whack of wasabi. While the tuna three ways is the more refined, it’s the salmon gravadlax that plays wonderful tricks – bursting with flavour, the delicious salmon fights intriguing battles with wasabi and pickled radish before settling down in harmony. The creative tuna dish plays a similar game but the salmon is a star.

It should be noted that Eric serves us a few little extras along the way to showcase their love of seasonality: the asparagus, fresh from Secretts in Milford, and asparagus and wild garlic veloute are fitting celebrations.

My main of succulent duck breast brings the big guns with a winning chilli and port reduction. The seared pak choi and butternut squash add a really lovely undercurrent to the plate, as well as vibrant colour. In the game of dining top trumps, I think I win this one, as the elevated excitement of my duck wasn’t quite matched by the cod. Not a bad dish at all, but the duck delighted with every mouthful.

To finish, we enjoy a crème brûlée and a stacked plate of cheese and biscuits.

All in all, there’s a passion and ambition at Red that shines through. They put a lot of love into what they do – and it’s paying dividends. From other diners, we overhear stories of the amazing quality of meat used for the steaks; about the time comedian Ross Noble came for dinner before singing its praises at his Dorking Halls show; that birthday celebrations here the other week were the best etc. Basically, Red is down-to-earth, high quality dining and a night out with friends, wrapped up in one.

“To be honest, I love this but I really can’t wait to get outdoors and cooking on our barbecue this summer,” says Eric with a glint in his eye. “We get some really fantastic meat in and it all helps to add drama to our food.”

Fitting, as the sun is certainly shining on Dorking at the moment…

***

Vote for your favourite Surrey pubs and restaurants in the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards

***

Three more top notch foodie pubs

The Anchor

High Street, Ripley, Surrey GU23 6AE. Tel: 01483 211866. Web: ripleyanchor.co.uk

Expect confident and creative cooking at this pub, which is owned by Steve Drake and holds two AA rosettes and a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand. Don’t miss the ‘secret’ courtyard, perfect for a summer aperitif.

The White Horse

The Street, Hascombe, Surrey GU8 4JA. Tel: 01483 208258. Web: whitehorsepub.net

It’s been all change here since chef Daniel Britten made the move out into the country. A stunning country pub found down winding lanes, the dining room is its own world and the garden is glorious when the sun shines.

The Inn

42 Guildford Road, West End, Surrey GU24 9PW. Tel: 01276 858652. Web: the-inn.co.uk

Long renowned for its down-to-earth celebration of the seasons menu – as well as its exceptional wines – The Inn is an adults-only pub/restaurant with rooms that well deserves its place at the top table.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Surrey visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Surrey staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Surrey account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 15:26

As warmer months approach, women and men alike commence the search for innovative and non-invasive ways to sculpt their bodies in time for summer. Medical Director of award-winning Surrey-based Health & Aesthetics clinic Dr Rekha Tailor explains how to look good, feel great and stay natural this summer

Read more
Tue, 10:56

The RAF is 100 years old this month. Ken Delve, who served with the RAF for 20 years, explores Surrey’s airfields and the parts they have played in the history of aviation over the past century

Read more
Tue, 10:03

Bassist and songwriter Jean-Jacques Burnel is a founder member of the band once known as The Guildford Stranglers. He speaks to Duncan Hall

Read more
Tue, 09:40

One of the biggest foodie events in the Surrey calendar is back for 2018! Voting is open and this year’s event will take place at G Live, Guildford on Thursday 13 September 2018

Read more
Tue, 09:35

Is there anything Mel Giedroyc cannot put her hand to? Despite parting ways with the Great British Bake Off when it moved to Channel 4 last year, she’s barely been off our TV screens; hosting Let It Shine, and Eurovision, as well as The Generation Game alongside her best pal and comedy sidekick Sue Perkins.

Read more
Mon, 11:34

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend: art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Surrey County Show has been an annual fixture since the 1950s and the 2018 show is set to be the biggest and best yet

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

This edition of Surrey Life features all the local ingredients to make this month special

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Whether it’s coronation chicken on sliced granary or a gluten free Victoria sponge, no sandwich works without the all-important filling!

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The vegetarian and vegan offering in Surrey seems to be improving by the week. Here are nine of the best restaurants and cafés for vegetarians and vegans in Surrey

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Small Designs is a collaboration between Ewhurst-based husband and wife team Deej and Small Carter, creating unique objects from reclaimed wood

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Surrey-based Love Water has produced a water cooler for supporters of every 2018 World Cup team and Surrey Life readers have the chance to win one

Read more
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Cranleigh Preparatory School has announced its new Headmaster will be Neil Brooks, current Principal of Fulham Prep Schools and previously Head of Cothill House

Read more
Friday, April 13, 2018

Surrey, set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has a wealth of beautiful gardens to visit. Throughout the open garden season you will find an array of stunning choices, many also serving delicious home-made teas to complete your visit. Gardening editor Leigh Clapp picks out a selection of her favourites

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Surrey's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search