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The Stag on the River, Eashing GU7 2QG - restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 11:42 06 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:42 06 March 2017

The Stag is a welcoming country bolthole  (Photo: Matthew Williams)

The Stag is a welcoming country bolthole (Photo: Matthew Williams)

Archant

The problem with country pubs is that quite often you never want to leave – fortunately, The Stag on the River, in Eashing, comes equipped with a set of perfectly-appointed bedrooms. Matthew Williams eats, sleeps, wakes and would quite happily repeat

The perfect spot to settle down by the fire (Photo: Red Mist Leisure)The perfect spot to settle down by the fire (Photo: Red Mist Leisure)

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2017

***

Need to know

The Stag on the River

Lower Eashing Lane, Eashing GU7 2QG

Tel: 01483 421568 Web: stagontherivereashing.co.uk

What we ate

Starters

Crispy battered king prawns, sweet chilli sauce, £7.25

Game terrine, balsamic onions, horseradish cream, pork crackling crumb, £6.95

Mains

Oven roasted spatchcock poussin, dauphinoise potato, wilted spinish and creamy pepper sauce, £15.95

Pan-fried rump of lamb, sweet potato mash, garlicky kale and rich red wine jus with lardoons, £16.95

Desserts

Dark chocolate and Baileys tart, toasted hazelnuts and salted caramel ice cream, £6.75

Apple and forest fruit crumble and vanilla custard, £6.50

Drinks

oNE bottle of Château Carbonneau, ‘Sequoia’ Reserva, Merlot & Cabernet Franc, France, £21.95

***

REVIEW: A charming 18th century inn that slopes in all directions before you’ve even considered one of the many tempting tipples on offer, The Stag on the River is a historic country bolthole in the village of Eashing.

Found a quick swerve off the A3, near Guildford and Godalming, and over a medieval bridge, this River Wey-side bar and restaurant is a hidden gem for the weary traveller or keen staycationer.

Perfectly situated for guests to explore west Surrey’s towns, villages and countryside, it’s been part of the growing Red Mist Leisure pub group (which also boasts The Queen’s Head in East Clandon, The Duke of Cambridge in Tilford, The Wheatsheaf in Farnham and The Cock Inn in Headley) since February 2007. So, a Happy 10th Birthday to them.

With the rain pitter-pattering on the gushing river and terrace outside, my wife, daughter and I make our escape from car to the warmly lit bar and our sanctuary from a miserable early 2017 night. You see, The Stag also boasts seven pristine bedrooms on top of its cosy pub offering and they’ve been kind enough to put us up for the night.

All the rooms are named after villages in the local area and following a warm welcome we find them via a ‘duck or you’ll regret it in the morning’ stairwell. Our room, Shackleford, features a bed big enough to need a map to navigate, a sofa, a rain shower and carefully selected home comforts (toiletries, towelling robes, tea and coffee etc).

Back downstairs, we find a mix of laid-back music, craft beers and select wine/gin lists to complement the timber beams, flagstones, antlers dominating the bar and posturing ‘stags in hats’ pics that adorn the walls. It’s subtly quirky and immediately endearing.

A cosy corner

We make our way through the dining room, passed intentionally mismatched chairs and wooden tables, and are led to a fireside corner. We’re a little early on a Friday night and while things are quiet to start the place fills up steadily throughout the evening, despite much of the county being in a post-Christmas/ Dry January stupor.

A bottle of rouge from Château Carbonneau is ordered, which seems fitting as the Red Mist pubs have an exclusive deal with the family-run Passac-sur-Dordogne vineyard and B&B. Fortunately, it proves to be a lovely drop.

Daughter settled with colouring set and high chair, we take a moment to browse the comfort food-led menu and end up opting largely for specials on the night.

My game terrine is packed full of flavour, and spiked with balsamic onions, horseradish cream and a pork crackling crumb – it’s the kind of dish you could happily enjoy as a lunch on its own. Sylviane, while tempted by the Cornish mussels, opts for the crispy battered king prawns and sweet chilli sauce – all perfectly satisfying.

The mains are where things definitely peak on our visit, with both my rump of lamb and my wife’s spatchcock poussin being divine. The lamb is beautifully deep, with the garlicky kale, red wine jus and lardons proving excellent additions. The poussin is deliciously moist with a well-judged hit of pepper in the creamy sauce.

While the kids menu looks great, Iona is happy enough nibbling bits from our plates and an extra side of veg when she’s not busily attempting to explore the pub. The other guests seem relaxed and the staff can’t be more helpful or friendly.

Cracking the formula

At some point, Red Mist clearly cracked the informal pub dining formula and they continue to exploit that knowledge expertly – it’s not about fireworks and frills, there aren’t any gimmicks, but it is all rather good and exactly what you want on a cold, winter night.

Desserts come in the form of a rather decadent dark chocolate and Baileys tart, with toasted hazelnuts and salted caramel ice cream, and a warming apple and forest fruit crumble with vanilla custard. The tart is the star. We’re so relaxed by this point that we have to vocally motivate each other to step away from the table and retire to Shackleford (fortunately just the short matter of that low-slung flight of stairs) with a far too energetic daughter and the last of the wine in tow.

It’s not long until the settled comfort of the room and low-volume of the film we’re watching whisk us all off to dreams dominated by stylish top hat wearing stags strutting across medieval bridges – well, it’s better than counting sheep.

Following a hearty breakfast with the papers we turn our minds to a day of exploration inspired by the local maps we’ve seen dotted around the building. But where to? The bridleways and bridges in the village? The short journey to Waverley Abbey, Frensham Ponds or Winkworth Arboretum? Maybe some shopping in Guildford, Godalming or Farnham? Maybe a mix of all three options, we’re certainly feeling ready for anything. That’s the lovely thing about The Stag: it feels like it takes life at its own pace, which helps you do likewise. Welcome, please leave your worries at the door.

***

3 more great Surrey pubs with rooms

The Drummond

The Street, Albury, near Guildford GU5 9AG. Tel: 01483 202039

A cosy pub found in the beautiful village of Albury, The Drummond is by the Tillingbourne in a perfectly serene setting.

The Inn

42 Guildford Road, West End GU24 9PW. Tel: 01276 858652

Named Surrey’s dining pub of the year by the 35th anniversary Good Pub Guide 2017, The Inn at West End is blessed with a unique identity.

The Percy Arms

75 Dorking Road, Chilworth GU4 8NP. Tel: 01483 561765

A little piece of South Africa in Surrey, The Percy Arms is overlooked by St Martha’s Church perched on the Surrey Hills above.

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