Drakes on the Pond, Abinger Hammer, Surrey RH5 6SA - CLOSED
PUBLISHED: 18:54 06 December 2010 | UPDATED: 20:33 20 November 2014
With The Latymer at Pennyhill Park recently picking up a coveted Michelin star, it seemed an apt time to visit the only remaining starred restaurant in the county yet to receive the Surrey Life treatment, Drakes on the Pond in Abinger Hammer
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2009
Reviewed: Drakes on the Pond, Dorking Road, Abinger Hammer RH5 6SA: 01306 731174
* Drakes on the Pond relaunched as an Italian restaurant, Martellos Kitchen, in November 2011 under the same ownership but that has since also closed - and the building bulldozed.
Food and drink 10
What we ate
Tian of fresh white crab £15
Pan fried breast of pigeon £14
Pan fried scallops on medallions of confit duck £16
Slow cooked belly of pork £25
Cannon of lamb £26
Loin of local venison £27
Old-fashioned lemon posset £8.50
Chablis, Denis Race 2005 £29.95
REVIEW: The welcome could have been construed as rather sinister: "We've been expecting you!" Especially with its Bond-like overtones and when spoken by someone whose name could have come straight from the pen of Ian Fleming - Tracey Honeysett - the co-owner of Drakes on the Pond.
In truth, it's simply that she and chef John Morris (husband and wife as well as business partners) keep tabs on Surrey Life. They knew we'd reviewed the county's other three Michelin starred restaurants - Drake's in Ripley, The Glasshouse in Kew and the newly added The Latymer at Pennyhill Park in Bagshot, so it was only a matter of time.
Located in the idyllic village of Abinger Hammer (on the A25 between Guildford and Dorking), this delightful dining room is prim and pristine - all light colours, yellows and whites - with soft lighting; everything just so. Not a huge room, so even on a quiet evening it still feels cosy. Tracey is delightful and good fun, and brought an unexpected informality to the service.
A challenge to choose!
The menu is refreshingly simple - a handful of starters and a handful of mains. My guests, Helen and Mary Ann, agreed that it was still difficult to choose as there was nothing that didn't appeal (no vegetarian dishes, but these can be provided by prior arrangement). Frankly, my solution was to go for the first starter on the list - tian of fresh white crab and creamed coconut, tempura soft shell crab and fresh mango salsa. For Helen, it was pan-fried breast of pigeon, brioche croute, caramelised red onion marmalade, served with pigeon sauce with Puy lentils. Both were excellent - however, Mary Ann's pan fried scallops on medallions of confit duck stole the show. Served in a tarragon and star anise sauce, they were sensational. I know - I pinched one!
With the mains, it was my turn to come up trumps: slow-cooked belly of pork served with black pudding, crackling, fondant potato, creamed savoy cabbage and pancetta sauce. I've never tasted anything quite like it - a familiar enough meat but it had a flavour and tenderness that left my tastebuds reeling. Having said that, Helen's cannon of lamb, potato and celeriac, dauphinoise, buttered spinach, pea puree, roast vine tomatoes and red wine jus was faultless, as was Mary Ann's loin of local venison, sauté ratte potatoes, served with parsnip puree, cabbage, bacon and chestnuts and red wine jus.
A pleasing Chablis
Going against the grain somewhat with all these red meat dishes, I spied amid the broad and shrewdly selected wine list a pleasing Chablis - Denis Race 2005. Wine prices reflect those of the food and are high, but this was towards the lower end and complemented the meal very well.
One dessert between us (again) - lemon posset, lemon meringue ice cream with stem ginger shortbread. After heavily carnivorous mains, this was the perfect antidote. The posset, in particular, was light and refreshing and oozing natural lemon flavour.
Drakes on the Pond is quite simply a superb dining experience and I recommend a visit. Having dined at all three of Surrey's Michelin-starred restaurants now, it's clear to me why they're in a league of their own - the sheer quality of the food comes first, above all else, but everything else follows suit, to a similar high standard.
3 other Surrey restaurants located by water...
Gaucho, The Towpath, Richmond Riverside, Richmond TW10 6UJ. Tel: 0208 948 4030
Nestled on the winding River Thames, Gaucho Richmond is set in one of the most beautiful areas of Surrey.
Inn on the Lake, Silvermere Golf Complex, Redhill Road, Cobham KT11 1EF. Tel: 01932 584333
A round of golf followed by a slap-up meal in a fantastic location. This one's name gives it all away really...
The Wiremill, Wiremill Lane, near Lingfield RH7 6HJ. Tel: 01342 832263
As you'd expect from a mill with a history of water-power, The Wiremill sits at an idyllic lakeside location and has a menu to match the view.