The Dining Room, Reigate, Surrey RH2 9A – restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 14:21 06 October 2011 | UPDATED: 10:44 14 July 2014
Former Surrey Life stalwart Tony Tobin has been delighting diners in Reigate for almost 20 years. Matthew Williams paid a visit to his hidden gem of a restaurant, perched above the town’s High Street, which even has its own Champagne bar
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2011
Reviewed: The Dining Room, 59a High Street, Reigate RH2 9AE: 01737 226650
Food and drink 9
What we ate
À La Carte
(Served Monday to Thursday eves and Monday to Friday lunchtimes)
Two courses for £29.50
Guineafowl & Morel Terrine, Apple & Mango Chutney
Seared Sea Scallops, Thai Potato Cake, Hot & Sweet Syrup (Supplement £3.75)
Grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass, Crab & Lemon Potato Cake, Bouillabaisse Sauce
Fillet of Beef, Potato Fondant, Spinach, Mustard Seed & Tarragon Sauce (Supplement £4.50)
Iced Apple Parfait, Apple Crumble Ice Cream, Sour Apple Jelly
Selection of Fine Cheeses, Chutney
Cote du Rhone, Les Coteaux Seguret 2007, France £29.95
REVIEW: I have a confession to make: over the years, I’ve spent many an afternoon chuckling away at Tony Tobin’s latest Kitchen Diaries column for this very magazine, as I edited the piece in our old Reigate office, but had never actually had the chance to eat at his restaurant.
He may have since put his pen down and I may now work from home, but a very special birthday (more of which in a moment) finally gave me the excuse to visit The Dining Room for a proper meal.
Perched above Reigate High Street, it has been a mainstay of the area’s dining scene since the Ready, Steady, Cook regular became head chef there in 1993.
Now the owner of the establishment, the only thing left for me to wonder was whether the quality of his cooking matched the excellence of those old columns.
Arriving early on a Wednesday evening (we were keen), my fiancée and I headed for the convenient and very snug Champagne bar above the restaurant, starting our celebrations with a cheeky glass of Taittinger (well, it was a special occasion after all).
The main event
While it was tempting to stay there, we finally made our way downstairs for the main event and settled at a white linen covered, well-spaced table with menu selections fresh in our mind: they offer both an À La Carte and Tasting Menu options (with or without wine selections) and we plumped for the former at £29 for two courses (Monday to Thursday) and a bottle of Cote du Rhone.
Sylviane, who was celebrating her 30th (don’t tell her I told you!), said her seared sea scallops (supplement: £3.75) were perfectly cooked, and having tried them, I thoroughly enjoyed the added kick of the Thai influence.
My own guineafowl dish, accompanied by a morel terrine, was faultless and worked well with the wine.
The grilled Mediterranean sea bass was perfect: fresh fish, simply cooked, but full of flavour and well complemented by a crab and lemon potato cake.
Other than a slight mishap on my part, when I tried my best to send the neatly piled beef dish in front of me skidding off the plate, I thoroughly enjoyed what was on offer once I’d gathered my composure.
A real highlight for me was to come, however, with dessert: certainly not cheap, the ambitious iced apple parfait, apple crumble ice cream and sour apple jelly I ordered, proved to be delicious.
Back in the days when Tony wrote his Surrey Life column, I remember being intrigued by a mention of sprinkling those sparkling, snapping sweets on dessert dishes for an added surprise. Even with the build-up, I can confirm the trick works.
The plate of cheeses also went down well, although a creamier offering wouldn’t have gone amiss to balance the stronger selections.
With the last drops of wine settling in our glasses, I thought I’d chance my arm and see if Tony had a moment to spare, and once he’d posed for photos with a party for four who were also celebrating a birthday, we did indeed get the pleasure.
Those of you who were regular followers of his column will be happy to note his marathon running efforts are showing no signs of slowing down.
I, on the other hand, will quite happily put any marathon ambitions on hold for a few more meals like those offered by The Dining Room.
3 other Surrey restaurants with famous chefs
10b Kew Green, Richmond TW9 3BH: 0208 948 4433
Nestled on Kew Green, opposite Kew Gardens, the Antony Worrall Thompson-owned Kew Grill has built an enviable reputation for serving beautifully prepared and presented dishes.
134 High Street, Old Woking GU22 9JN: 01483 750610
With a MasterChef: The Professionals semi-finalist at the helm, the sense of expectation about London House in Old Woking has been matched.
The Queen’s Head
1 Bridge Road, Weybridge KT13 8XS: 01932 839820
Built in the mid-1700s, probably as a coach house, The Queen’s Head is now a Marco Pierre White brasserie and proving popular.