Food by Aneke, West End, Surrey - pop-up restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 09:31 03 June 2014 | UPDATED: 08:41 13 April 2015
Down some winding country lanes near Woking, a new dining delight has literally just popped up. Matthew Williams pays a visit to Food by Aneke for a taste of something a little bit different...
Food by Aneke
West End, near Woking: foodbyaneke.com
What we ate:
A changing gourmet tasting menu at £65 per head (bring your own wine with a small corkage fee – wine pairings available on request).
Dates for your diary:
Saturday May 17 and Saturday May 24, and Saturday June 14 and Saturday June 21. Book your place @ foodbyaneke.com
REVIEW: One of my favourite 2013 dining experiences was not in fact at a restaurant or a pub, but in the spectacular home of Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess Grantham.
Greeted like Lords and Ladies at the historic Byfleet Manor, which features as Dame Maggie Smith’s home in the ITV drama, we enjoyed an utter treat of an evening where our stunning surroundings were only outshone by the food.
While Surrey does have a few excellent pop-ups (see far right), they aren’t thriving to the extent of the London scene just yet – although it’s surely only a matter of time!
So it was exciting news to discover that the chef on that night, Aneke, was launching a brand new pop-up venture in the village of West End, near Woking.
The restaurant, which had its official opening just after our visit in April, is found down a country lane in the barn of Aneke and husband Dan’s beautiful country home, with lights marking the route to avoid unfortunate sat-nav issues.
Food with friends
Surrey Life was lucky enough to receive an invite to a pre-launch tasting event put on by Aneke for a few friends – and us – as she added the finishing touches to the first menu.
A professional chef for over 20 years, she has worked with the likes of Rainer Becker at Zuma, Alan Bird at The Ivy and Alain Ducasse in New York.
“We aim to source everything within a 10-mile radius and we’ve been busy working with local farmers and allotment holders to get the best produce,” she says, before we’re informed that some of the night’s produce has been picked from the garden allotment of a fellow guest!
On the night of our visit, we are shown the barn that will host the official events before retiring to the snug dining room in their house. There’s something about pop-ups that immediately heightens anticipation. The promise of brilliant food in an unusual location is thrilling. And when the guests are already busy discussing the merits of London House, Old Woking, Stovell’s, Chobham et al, you know you’re in good company.
An extremely creative chef, Aneke says she has “had a lot of fun trialling and testing new dishes” and the occasionally eccentric and always intriguing offerings on the menu suggest as much. She has an enviable ability to combine ingredients you probably wouldn’t perhaps usually imagine together in scintillating dishes.
A veritable banquet
And so it is that, after bread and flavoured butters, the seven courses start with a splendid spring pea and grapefruit latte shot, topped with a coconut and lemon grass foam. Next, a fun parmesan dusted marshmallow dish entertains with basil oil, tomato dust and ‘snow’. Onto a personal favourite of mine, as ibérico ham dances with truffles and Furze Farm windfall apple beignet. Then something a little different with unusual white chocolate blinis with caviar and champagne jellies! The group favourite on the night is the lobster scotch egg, samphire nest, saffron curry and lime that comes next. Then a grand crescendo is reached with duck breast, cauliflower risotto, dark chocolate anchovy and chilli crumb, and rhubarb and chard samosa. Hitting the sweet notes comes a bee pollen and hedgerow blackberry panna cotta, pink peppercorn and sugar-dusted doughnuts with lemon mascarpone. Finally, mopping up the last of the wine and coffee is cheese from Mickleham’s Norbury Blue. As with our previous encounter with Aneke, the menu proves a constantly exciting encounter, with a finely balanced mix of fun and flavour.
A few points of order remain for the uninitiated: wine is on a bring-your-own basis, with a small corkage fee, but pairing suggestions are available for diners on request – for the official nights, they will have a team of their regular waitresses, ably led front of house by Dan.
While the barn wasn’t quite finished on our visit, it looks like a suitably quirky country retreat and they are on the lookout for local artists to display on site – to add an extra special something to the location.
All in all, it’s not very often you get to enjoy being right at the start of a foodie adventure in Surrey, and the project will no doubt be shaped by the early diners who walk through the doors in the coming months. Go with an open mind and enjoy before it’s impossible to book!
Vote for your favourite Surrey restaurants and chefs @ surreylifeawards.greatbritishlife.co.uk
More Surrey pop-ups and supper clubs
Supper Club at The Orangery
At Ham House in Richmond, the National Trust takes a particular interest in their food and at their supper clubs you can enjoy a three-course meal featuring produce from their walled kitchen garden.
Ashtead Secret Supper Club
Inspired by Come Dine With Me, one Ashtead couple launched their own secret supper club last year. An intimate affair for usually around four to eight guests, the cuisine has so far covered French to Egyptian and is normally just a cost-covering £15.
An occasional Surrey Life guest blogger on our website, Jacqueline hosts not-to-be-missed supperclubs in private houses all around the area.
Making his name in the Reigate area, this highly regarded chef regularly appears at The Vineking and The Vintage Tea House, Reigate.