Britten’s, Guildford, Surrey GU1 3RT - restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 19:48 30 October 2014 | UPDATED: 10:02 02 June 2015
With his television debut on MasterChef said to have been a turning point, chef Daniel Britten has realised a dream by opening his own restaurant in our county town. Matthew Williams pays a visit to Britten’s, in Sydenham Road, to see whether it makes the grade...
Reviewed: Britten’s restaurant
1C Sydenham Road, Guildford, GU1 3RT.
Tel: 01483 302888
What we ate:
Cornish scallops with textures of celeriac, £11 Roast breast of quail, carrot, cumin, hazelnut brittle and pickled grapes, £8
Plantation pork loin and pork belly, toffee apple, brawn, pomme purée, jus, £18 Guineafowl breast, braised leg, baby onions and smoked bacon, £17
Maragda chocolate fondant and malted white chocolate Taywell’s ice cream, £6 Sticky toffee pudding, £7
2011 Corbieres, Chateau du Dufort, Languedoc, France, £6.85, large glass
Elderflower cordial, £1.30
REVIEW: Any restaurant I lined up for this month’s review was never going to be facing an easy task. Due to the ever-inconvenient world of magazine deadlines, the only time we could arrange for our latest review meal was slap bang in the middle of judging the three establishments still in the running for restaurant of the year in the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards 2014. It also happened to be my 30th birthday. No pressure then…
So it was that my wife Sylviane and I found ourselves strolling around Guildford for the day and, unusually for us, with a very definite plan for the evening ahead – rather than our usual random forays.
Simple but stylish
Found away from the High Street, just up the road from Guildford Castle and in the shadow of The Thai Terrace and the car park that restaurant resides upon, you find Britten’s. Formerly Bar Centro, it’s a simple but stylish enterprise with the focus very much on the food.
Opened in November 2013 by former MasterChef contestant and Tante Marie- trained chef Daniel Britten, it’s a place that we had been meaning to visit for some time.
Certainly, if the recommendations we’d received from readers were anything to go by, this was a restaurant that should have some chance of holding its head up high against the awards competition.
Those recommendations seemed to be backed by the large corporate function that was taking place in the upstairs section of the restaurant. Sometimes a worry, but the staff remained relaxed and the downstairs half of the place retained an intimate feel.
Seated by the stairs, next to the wine cellar, we felt immediately at home, and duly perused the drinks menu. The wine list is diverse, with options by the glass or bottle – and there’s plenty of bubbly too for those on the hunt for celebratory flavours as well as some interesting beer options. A large glass of 2011 Corbieres, Chateau du Dufort and an elderflower cordial ordered, and water and bread on the table, we relaxed into the evening ahead.
Britten’s keeps its menu short, British and fresh, but there’s still plenty of variety. While I went for the roast breast of quail for a starter, Sylviane opted unusually for the scallops. Each dish was beautifully constructed, and both offered interesting textures with well-cooked meat and fish juxtaposing against something a little crisp. Plenty to keep the interest.
It was difficult to pick between our main courses. My plantation pork loin and pork belly with toffee apple, brawn, pomme purée and jus was fantastic. Sweet meat and flavours given bite by crackling. Sylviane’s guineafowl had real depth and a kick of smoked bacon. Both of them were delicately balanced dishes with well-chosen flavours.
The Sweet Shop
On to the excellently named Sweet Shop then, where Sylviane flew straight to the Maragda chocolate fondant and I chose an old favourite of sticky toffee pudding. Both were again beautifully presented and faultless.
All in all, Britten’s is already a real treat. Guildford is one of those places that, depending on who you talk to, already has loads of great restaurants or is somewhat a little lacking in top-quality independents when everything else on offer is taken into account. This is one restaurant that already shows much promise and the hope has to be that it can make itself firmly part of the great tapestry that is Guildford.
It certainly doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to imagine it won’t be long before Britten’s is throwing its hat in with the big boys at the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards.
Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards 2014 finalists Restaurant of the Year
HMP High Down, High Down Lane, Sutton SM2 5PJ Web: theclinkrestaurant.com
When it first opened five years ago, there were many who remained sceptical. A restaurant in a prison? The success of The Clink Restaurant at HMP High Down in Sutton has been such, however, that the prisoner training scheme has now been expanded to other sites too.
Gomshall Lane, Shere GU5 9HE
Tel: 01483 202168
There’s a reason why this beautiful little restaurant, which celebrated its 20th birthday in 2013, has been talked about so warmly by so many for the last two decades. The winner of the Surrey Life Restaurant of the Year award for 2013, they are back in the final shortlist for the 2014 awards too.
125 Windsor Road, Chobham GU24 8QS Tel: 01276 858000
Named Surrey Life Chefs of the Year for 2013, Fernando and Kristy Stovells’ enthusiasm for their craft is truly infectious, the premises are stunning and the food is as good as it gets below Michelin star standard. But will they walk off with the trophy for Restaurant of the Year 2014?