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The Winterton Arms, Chiddingfold, Surrey GU8 4UU – restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 15:56 11 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:56 11 April 2017

This is a place that invites you to relax whether on the hunt for food or drink (Photo: Colin Baldwin)

This is a place that invites you to relax whether on the hunt for food or drink (Photo: Colin Baldwin)

Colin Baldwin Photography Ltd

The latest addition to a mini ‘pub empire’ that melds comfort food and expansive drinks lists to winning effect, The Winterton Arms has found a new lease of life in the village of Chiddingfold.

While the steak is the star of the show, the sides put up a fight (Photo: Matthew Williams) While the steak is the star of the show, the sides put up a fight (Photo: Matthew Williams)

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2017

***

Need to know

The Winterton Arms

Petworth Road, Chiddingfold GU8 4UU

Tel: 01428 776151 Web: thewinterton.pub

What we ate:

Starters

Pigs cheek croquettes with apple ketchup, £7

Roast scallops, crisp port and Thai garnish, £8

Mains

Smoked haddock and crab gratin, £14

300g dry-aged rib eye, £20

Sides

Bone marrow gravy, £2

French fries with rosemary salt, £3

Cauliflower cheese with marmite crumble, £4

Kimchi roasted savoy cabbage, £3

Desserts

Toffee apple crumble, walnut, hazelnut and vanilla custard, £7

A plate of British cheese (Ogleshield, Colston Basset and Tunworth), £8

Drinks

What’s the Story? Southbank gin, Espresso, dark rum, bitters and ginger ale, £7.50

Pint of Little Smooth by Little Beer Co, £4.80

A 125ml glass of Rioja Blanco, Lopez de Haro, Spain, £3.80

Bottle of Audit Ale by Little Beer Co, £4.90

***

REVIEW: With so many battles raging around the country over the future of village pubs, Chiddingfold finds itself in the rather blessed position of being able to offer its own high-class pub crawl through the community.

While The Crown, The Swan and BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans’ The Mulberry have all garnered awards, it’s perhaps fair to say that The Winterton Arms has found it a little difficult to find its place on such a high pedestal at times.

So there was excitement at Surrey Life Towers towards the end of last year when we discovered the highly-rated smoked meat and craft beer specialists at Witley’s The White Hart were adding it to their growing family. With their sister site just down the road, they’ve decided to leave the BBQ to one side at The Winterton for now – but their menu is still focussed largely on quality meat. Keeping things local, this is supplied by Black Barn Butchers at Secretts of Milford, whose beef comes from Coverwood Farm in Ewhurst and Lydling Farm in Shackleford (lamb, pork and chicken are all from a little further afield).

Behind bars

But before the food, we need to talk about the drinks. While the two restaurant sections almost wrap around the bar, they never quite merge and so you’ll find groups of drinkers enjoying a merry night while diners make their way through the menu largely oblivious. The music is chilled, the lighting is low and you half expect a smoky jazz band to be playing in the corner. It’s the taps and bottles lining the bar and walls that take centre stage, however. The place is perfect for the adventurous and the staff are knowledgeable enough to throw some curveballs your way, should you be in the mood.

They claim to have more than 750 combinations of gin and tonic and, while I didn’t count them personally, the options would keep any avid London bar goer busy for a few days. Their love of gin knows no bounds and they’re in the process of concocting their own house version with Dorking’s The Gin Kitchen (who released Gutsy Monkey towards the end of 2016).

As well as multiple real ales on the pumps, there’s a massive selection of craft beer from some of the country’s most exciting independent brewers, including Surrey offerings from Guildford’s Little Beer Corporation (LBC).

Spoilt for choice, my wife opts for a What’s the Story? cocktail (Southbank gin, Espresso, dark rum, bitters and ginger ale) while I get in the mood with a milk stout from the aforementioned, LBC.

Having sampled the spirit, we’re led through into the smaller dining room of the two passed pop art posters (Star Wars’ Storm Troopers merged with Reservoir Dogs’ stars; Lego Darth Vadar; Vladimir Putin wearing one of the balaclavas made famous by provocative Russian punk act Pussy Riot... but we’re getting distracted here).

Time to chill

Like its sister pub in Witley (and The Grey Horse in Kingston, which is from the same stable), this is a place that makes you sit back, relax and enjoy. The evening lighting adds a real intimacy and even though the tables are close, you don’t feel like you’re sharing a blind date with your neighbours.

With a couple of fresh drinks ordered, including LBC’s Audit Ale (a barley wine recipe rescued from Guildford’s long lost Friary Meux brewery) for me, our eyes light up at the menu. For starters, Sylviane’s pigs cheek croquettes and my roast scallops are delicious plates. There’s nothing fancy going on – it’s just very tasty and unapologetic.

While some of the mains work standalone, you’ll need to order sides for others – but, to be honest, you’ll be missing out if you don’t. Our selections leave the table groaning but are oh so worth it. The Kimchi (a fermented Korean vegetable dish) is lip-smackingly divine, and cuts through my beautifully cooked rib-eye steak and meaty gravy like an assassin. Then there’s the cauliflower cheese. A steaming bowl spiked with marmite that’s just a wonderful thing. The smoked haddock and crab gratin Sylviane opts for is in similarly heart-warming territory.

There’s barely room for dessert but an extra push for the reviewing ‘cause’ leads to a rather lovely toffee apple crumble finding its way into my belly – before we decide to share a cheese board after all too.

Like The White Hart down the road, The Winterton Arms is a very modern country pub that takes everything it does very seriously with a connoisseur’s nose for things –but there’s a fun little skip in its step while it does it. It’s a place for those who enjoy the comfort food side of life, just as much as they enjoy exploring the new and unusual.

***

3 more great places for steak in Surrey…

The Percy Arms

75 Dorking Road, Chilworth, Surrey GU4 8NP. Web: thepercyarms.net

Inspired by its South African heritage this pub, in the shadow of the rather splendid St Martha-on-the-Hill, is a must for any true meat lover. We can’t wait for the braai...

Buenos Aires

2-4 London Road, Reigate, Surrey RH2 9AN. Web: barestaurant.com

This restaurant group started life in Purley 10 years ago and their combination of quality Argentine cuts from grass-fed cattle and big wines has proven a real winner.

The Plough Inn

Plough Lane, Downside, Cobham, Surrey KT11 3LT. Web: theploughinncobham.co.uk

Having grown aggrieved with being ‘forced’ to travel into London for a decent steak, the owners decided to start their own venture locally. As such, meat is at the heart of things here.

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