Chris Evans' The Mulberry Inn, Chiddingfold GU8 4SS - restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 11:55 20 April 2015 | UPDATED: 12:20 12 August 2015
While its car park is no stranger to supercars and its bar stools have supported the odd A-lister over the years, Chris Evans' pub The Mulberry Inn at Chiddingfold has an offering that welcomes all comers, as Matthew Williams discovers
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2015
The Mulberry Inn
Petworth Road, Chiddingfold GU8 4SS
Tel: 01428 644460
What we ate:
• Serrano ham and ham hock terrine, plum chutney and ciabatta slices, £7.60
• Pan-roasted gnocchi, spinach, pancetta lardons, creamy sauce and Parmesan, £7.10
• Roasted pheasant leg, pheasant breast wrapped in bacon and herbs, pearl onions, new potatoes, roasted carrots and parsnips, £16.50
• Salmon fillet, crushed potato, spinach, white wine and sautéed mushroom sauce, £15.40
• Sticky toffee bread and butter pudding, toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream, £6
• Baked Alaska with mixed berry sauce, £6
• La Troubadour, Carignan Grenache, France 2013, £5.50 for a small glass
• El Colectivo Malbec, Argentina 2013, £7.50 for a large glass
REVIEW: If you didn’t know that Radio 2 DJ and TV presenter Chris Evans owned The Mulberry pub beforehand, it certainly becomes obvious once you’ve walked off the gravel car park, across the ranch-like veranda and through the front doors.
Well, the only other reason for the scrapbook of images that line the walls would be that some enthusiastic Big Breakfast fanatic landlord had transformed the place into a shrine.
It’s not as off-putting as it might sound, however, and instead makes you feel like you’ve joined some sort of exclusive club. They’ve also got shots of the many A-list musicians that have performed at the pub in the name of Children in Need (Sir Tom Jones, Paolo Nutini, James Blunt, Gary Barlow, Paloma Faith… the list goes on!). Love or hate those stars, there’s no doubt they are of the heavyweight persuasion and they’ve made The Mulberry something of a tourist attraction in its own right.
It’s not just a place for the rich and famous, however. As the last outpost of Surrey, on the way out of the county from the picturesque village of Chiddingfold, it’s a fitting send-off or welcome: with plenty of real ale on tap (three local brews on our visit), fine wines on the list (extensive), serious food (Marco Pierre White approved) and cosy table arrangements or bar stools (take your pick).
There’s also guest rooms, should you wish to extend your stay. So don’t forget your toothbrush...
A super bar
Surrey Life has visited The Mulberry on numerous occasions – most notably for the Supercar Sundays that grew to such a level of popularity at one point that Goodwood was in danger of being overshadowed! We’d never eaten here though; except for a bacon sarnie on one of those early supercar festooned mornings.
So now the time had come, and on arrival, we found ourselves sitting in a welcoming corner next to a framed magazine cover signed by The Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening. As I said, it’s not your average pub. But it is a pub. They pride themselves as being “somewhere to relax, laugh and spend time with friends, family and four-legged friends.” And that is what you get.
A look around from our viewpoint, with our four-month-old daughter already smiling and at home, revealed a mix of ladies who lunch, businessmen and families – all with that relaxed look that bodes well for what’s to come.
Settled in to our big red leather chairs, with glasses of wine and water delivered to the table by our friendly waitress, a quick look at the menu hinted at plenty of the refined – as well as a dose of burgers, fish and chips etc should the like be calling. There’s also the aptly-named and very reasonably priced TFI Pieday (two for one pies every Friday).
Right on course
I opted for the pan-roasted gnocchi, with spinach, pancetta lardons, creamy sauce and Parmesan to start; the earthy pancetta and Parmesan cutting through the light gnocchi and sauce to create a dish I could have easily had as my main course. Sylviane opted for the suitably meaty Serrano ham and ham hock terrine with plum chutney and ciabatta slices. No complaints there.
For the most part, my pheasant main course was also thoroughly enjoyable; although the leg was probably a touch on the dry side, which was a shame. However, the breast wrapped in bacon and herbs was absolutely delicious, and washed down with a glass of Malbec, it made for a suitably homely winter treat. Sylviane’s salmon fillet was the winner on the main courses though, with fresh flavours that pleased at every stage and lingered moreishly on the palate long after the first bite; an excellent dish.
For me, however, the real stars of our visit were the desserts. I opted for a sticky toffee bread and butter pudding, toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream that would have had MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace effusing to such an extent that the BBC would have had to go off air for a few minutes while a cold shower was ordered. It was a pudding that did everything a pudding should, basically, and I could have carried on eating it all day.
Sylviane’s Baked Alaska with mixed berry sauce was epic in proportion and yet did your correspondent get to try any? Of course not...!
Once again, The Mulberry proved that if you’re not really a fan of fine dining but you like your food fine, pubs are often the place to go now. And while the owner may live elsewhere these days, I’m pretty certain that Mr Evans must be very proud of what his former local has become under his custody. Plus, judging from the walls, everyone from Zig and Zag (remember them?!) to Sir Tom Jones approves too.
3 other great (and well connected) Surrey eateries
The Dining Room
59a High Street, Reigate RH2 9AE. Tel: 01737 226650
For over 20 years, Ready Steady Cook stalwart Tony Tobin has cooked up a storm in his classy venue perched over Reigate’s High Street. The seared scallops is his signature dish, but there are plenty of other tempting options.
The William Bray
Shere Lane, Shere GU5 9HS. Tel: 01483 202044
This popular pub is owned by Julian Bailey, an ex-Formula One driver who wanted to create a pub that he would like to frequent himself. The William Bray features many touches from his background and also takes its food extremely seriously.
The Restaurant at Tante Marie
57-61 Commercial Way, Woking GU21 6HN. Tel: 01483 726957
Opening on Thursday April 2, this new restaurant will be where graduates of the cookery school’s Cordon Bleu Diploma take their training to the next level. The school is co-owned by Gordon Ramsay.