CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

Bell Street Bistro, Reigate, Surrey RH2 7AQ - closed

PUBLISHED: 16:58 24 August 2012 | UPDATED: 18:21 01 May 2014

Bell Street Bistro, Reigate, Surrey RH2 7AQ ~ restaurant review

Bell Street Bistro, Reigate, Surrey RH2 7AQ ~ restaurant review

When the glass was frosted at 41 Bell Street, excitement grew among Reigate's foodies. But does Bell Street Bistro live up to the hype?

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine August 2012

Restaurant reviewed: Bell Street Bistro, 41 Bell Street, Reigate, Surrey RH2 7AQ: 01737 222 562

***

The verdict:
Food: 9
Venue: 8
Service: 8

What we ate...

Starters
Crayfish salad, bois boudran espuma, lemon air, £7.50
Crisp pork belly, poached apples, balsamic glaze, £8

Main courses
Turbot a la Plancha, roast broccoli and cauliflower, parmentier potatoes, red wine jus, £18
Lamb rump, warm pea, bacon and baby gem salad, wild garlic pesto, £17.50
Roast new potatoes, £3

Desserts
Flaming frozen lemon bar, lemon gel, £6.50
Eton Mess cheesecake, £6.50

***

REVIEW: Last time I was in the building now occupied by Reigate’s latest foodie offering, I was getting my hair cut. Previously a hairdresser’s (and before that Surf & Ski and once even a hotel apparently), the floors have fortunately  been swept and the interior designers brought in to transform 41 Bell Street into Bell Street Bistro.

Much secrecy had surrounded the restaurant’s opening, with masked windows teasing passing pedestrians for a few months in the lead-up, so our curiosity had been well and truly piqued. Furthermore, Reigate has long been at the centre of Surrey Life operations, so when we were invited to visit, we were only too pleased to try out our hometown’s newest independent restaurant.

On entry, the first thing you notice is the openness of the place and, right in the centre of the expanse, the kitchen and chefs on full view, with the cocktail bar on the right (interestingly, the wide range of drinks on offer seem to be attracting non-diners just as readily).

Manager Simon Brencher, who has survived working under the formidable Gordon Ramsay over the years, met us on a busy Friday night with the restaurant barely open two weeks.

Understandably proud of the new venture, Simon treated us to hand-picked wine offerings to match each course – obviously not quite the standard procedure, but it did highlight the breadth of their cellar perfectly.

On the menu
Offering a concise, contemporary European menu, stretching to lobster for £35 (and a claw hammer that one local wielded with such relish I felt a certain amount of empathy for her husband’s worried look), other dishes include a £17 burger, vegetarian option (mushroom tea included...?), Cote de Boeuf for two and various fish dishes.

My fiancée Sylviane should have been born by the sea and went for the crayfish to start. I have to admit that when it was first presented, the ‘lemon air’ froth on top appeared overwhelming but, as she delved in, it was clear that it was delightfully subtle rather than dominating.

My crisp pork belly came as prescribed with crunchy crackling matching tender pork, all cleverly presented alongside poached apples.

The open kitchen really adds to the atmosphere of the place and while others tucked into their own selections around us, I kept casting glances across to the kitchen that was sending out dish after dish with calm assuredness – no sign of Gordon Ramsay there (not sure if the expletives would work with the Reigate dining crowd anyway).

So, onto the main courses, and Sylviane stuck with the sea and was served a deliciously meaty Turbot a la Plancha, well complemented by roast broccoli and cauliflower, parmentier potatoes and red wine jus.

My lamb rump came with a wild garlic pesto, which was a nice touch, and a combination I hadn’t experienced before. Those with big appetites will probably require a side of roast new potatoes to complement the dish.

For dessert, Sylviane opted for a flaming frozen lemon bar having witnessed one presented to a nearby diner. We’re not quite sure what it was coated in, but Reigate’s recent jubilee beacon lighting could have probably done with it. It would have burnt all night if Sylviane hadn’t assisted in extinguishing it. Despite the effect, the frozen lemon bar still proved just as sensitive teeth-aching as you’d imagine.

I was tempted by the Eton Mess cheesecake and while Sylviane claims her school’s offering is better, a bold claim, I thoroughly enjoyed the dish set out in front of me.

A flying start
Bar one or two slight serving hiccups, which you’d fully expect in the first couple of weeks, the staff were friendly and attentive throughout without being imposing. The venue itself is a dramatic change from its previous offering and will undoubtedly continue to grow into itself. The skylights over the main dining room give fantastic natural light and on a clear night I like to imagine it will offer the added bonus of dining under the stars.

All in all, in a town not short of good (but often chain) restaurants, Bell Street Bistro is a welcome new independent addition that punches above its weight. With the experienced team at the helm, I imagine it won’t be long before it’s tempting in the foodies from further afield than Reigate’s high street too.


***

3 other great Bells

The Bell Inn
High Street, Godstone, Surrey RH9 8DX: 01883 743216
In the early 19th century, The Bell was used as a staging post – with six coaches a day travelling through the village to Eastbourne and Brighton. These days, the car park is still normally full.

The Cloche Hat
Burrow Hill, Chobham, Surrey GU24 8QS: 01276 858000
Nestled on the edge of the picturesque village of Chobham, at The Cloche Hat they’ve been bringing gourmet food to the residents of Surrey since 1957. Former joint head chefs of London’s Cuckoo Club, Fernando and Kristy Stovell have recently taken over the restaurant.

The Bell
Bell Lane, Fetcham KT22 9ND: 01372 372624
Managers Mark and Penny Thornhill only returned from Florida, where they had an English tea room (complete with red phone booth outside) and four restaurants in the Disney area, a few years ago – and yet they have already seen their undertaking gain inclusion in The Good Food Guide.

More from Surrey Life

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

Read more
Yesterday, 16:05

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
Tue, 10:53

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

Read more
Tue, 10:47

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
Tue, 10:41

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

Read more
Mon, 14:32

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
Mon, 12:56

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
Mon, 12:13

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (16, 17 and 18 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Friday, November 9, 2018

We round up 10 of the most beautiful photos of Surrey shared on Instagram this week…

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