CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

Abinger Cookery School, Abinger Hammer, Surrey RH5 6RZ – supper club review

PUBLISHED: 13:20 07 June 2015 | UPDATED: 12:36 08 June 2015

Watercress growing in eggs shells on window sill (Photo: Martin Poole)

Watercress growing in eggs shells on window sill (Photo: Martin Poole)

(c) Martin Poole

Having recently launched a supper club series, Abinger Cookery School teamed up with their watercress growing neighbours at Kingfisher Farm Shop to produce a six-course menu celebrating the peppery leaf. Matthew Williams was invited along for a taste

How many dishes could you create with watercress? (Photo: Charlotte Lake)How many dishes could you create with watercress? (Photo: Charlotte Lake)

Reviewed: Abinger Cookery School, Guildford Road, Abinger Hammer, Surrey RH5 6RZ

Tel: 01306 730470

***

The low-down:

 

Verdict:

Food: 9

Venue: 9

Service: N/A (professionally served up by the hosts)

 

What we ate:

 

Six-course supper club menu: £35 per head

 

Canapés (from the ‘seafood secrets’ course)

Mackerel ceviche with grapefruit and watercress

 

Starter (from the ‘best of British’ course)

Hen egg parmesan custards with dippy soldiers

 

Mid-course (from the ‘pasta’ course)

Watercress, ricotta and wild garlic tortellini with chicken consommé

 

Main course (from the ‘BBQ’ course)

Grilled bavette steak with onion rings, parmentier potatoes and watercress puree

 

Dessert (from the ‘dinner parties to impress’ course)

Watercress jelly, strawberry mousse with lemon pepper shortbread

 

Petite Fours (from the ‘Macaron’ evening course)

Macarons

 

***

REVIEW: Most supermarkets and many restaurants would have you believe that watercress is passé and rocket is a superior leaf: but they’re wrong.

Fortunately for us, last year’s Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards winner of the Pride of Surrey title, Barry Arminson from Kingfisher Farm Shop in Abinger Hammer, is still going strong.

While the once thriving industry has all disappeared, even here in Surrey, watercress is still produced largely due to the determination and entrepreneurial spirit of Barry, who grows the vegetable in beds next to the farm shop.

With his family’s interest in the business rooted all the way back to 1854, his commitment is not surprising.

So it was that Abinger Cookery School stepped up to the plate to celebrate National Watercress Week, with chef Jake Pinn cooking up a six-course supper club menu for lucky guests with Barry’s freshest produce.

How creative can you get with a salad leaf, you might ask? Very, it turns out...

As dish after dish arrived across the evening, guests (mainly from the village, but word is sure to spread if the places aren’t snapped up before sale by the locals) sat back in wonder at the magic that was unfolding in front of them on the long communal dining table.

The venue itself is a former pub that no one seems to miss an awful lot, which has been stylishly transformed into a top end cookery school.

It’s an intimate place, but the interior designer’s dream of a dining room seems a world away from the kitchens that would usually bustle with wannabe chefs-to-impress in the room next door.

 

Hidden delights

Mackerel ceviche with grapefruit and watercress canapés were brought out by our host Lewis, to be enjoyed with the bring-your-own wine that’s the way of such supper club occasions.

The beautifully fresh raw fish impressed from the start, with its lovely citrus hit and the warm pepper depths provided by the watercress; a hit with the sun still just about shining outside.

As we took our places at the table, we finally got to unwrap the hidden delights within the egg cartons that had been sat alluring among the cutlery.

I still don’t really understand the dark magic behind this delectable dish, but inside an almost whole egg shell was a glorious mix of egg parmesan custard atop a watercress purée – with dippy soldiers, of course.

A delicate watercress, ricotta and wild garlic tortellini was served up next with a chicken consommé so deep you could uncover Atlantis.

As the evening swum by, talk turned to the cultural shift that has seen renewed interest in the field to fork process and the provenance of what we eat.

Much like the apathy that led to the horse meat scandal, we seem to have let variation disappear from our salad bowl; relying on the same readily supplied staples.

But I guess that’s a conversation that could take us on another 1,000 word tangent…

The grilled bavette steak shook me out of my reverie, smoked to a booming finish and complemented by onion rings, parmentier potatoes and, of course, watercress puree. It could become the county dish.

And so, onto trickier times: dessert.

We’re used to fragrant herbs taking us on unexpected pudding adventures, but watercress?

The guys at Abinger decided to blend it in jelly form with strawberry mousse and lemon pepper shortbread, and while the watercress was subtle it still made its presence known.

Last but by no means least were the incredible macarons – admittedly sans watercress but moreish with a coffee.

So, one question remains. With watercress bursting full of enough vitamins and minerals to be one of nature's superfoods, and with a steady production available on our doorstep, why aren’t we ensuring this forgotten delight thrives?

It’s time to get creative in the kitchen, and at Abinger Cookery School they have the skills to ensure your dinner parties, supper clubs or family meals are the talk of the village - and you have the confidence to use ingredients that may have slipped from the recipe books…

***

Further reading

The Great Surrey Bake-off at Abinger Cookery School

Best Surrey supper clubs and pop-up restaurants

More from Surrey Life

Yesterday, 16:30

She may have recently moved to the seaside, but Surrey still holds a uniquely “precious” place in the heart of legendary children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson – not to mention the crucial role the county played in bringing everyone’s favourite and newly-returning feisty foster-kid to life

Read more
Yesterday, 11:59

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (23, 24 and 25 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Surrey is full of secret hideaways and hidden gems. Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate is definitely one of them

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The new hotel is set to open in spring 2019 and will be located in the heart of the vineyard, offering sweeping views over the North Downs Way.

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Having bloomed in Brighton’s restaurant scene over the past decade, The Chilli Pickle opened its second site in Guildford this summer

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019. Here’s how you can get tickets

Read more
Monday, November 12, 2018

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more
Friday, November 2, 2018

With the Christmas celebrations seemingly starting earlier every year, it all feels a little too ‘soon’ sometimes, but what if you want to look your best for Christmas & New year celebrations and are considering having cosmetic non-surgical procedures? The Bella Vou Pantiles Clinic offers surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures and treatments from a purpose-built private clinic in the heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells

Read more
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Living in England’s most densely wooded county, it’s always a pleasure to witness Surrey donning its autumn finery. Here’s some of the best places to do just that - plus a few pub pit stops to enjoy on route!

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search