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The Pendleton, Earlswood RH1 6QF - restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 17:28 01 October 2013 | UPDATED: 17:28 01 October 2013

The Pendleton, Earlswood

The Pendleton, Earlswood

Archant

Stalwarts of the Surrey restaurant scene, Jon and Cynthia Coomb have landed at The Pendleton in Earlswood, near Redhill, with the old pub undergoing quite a transformation in recent months. Matthew Williams went along to investigate

REVIEWED: The Pendleton, 26 St John’s, Earlswood RH1 6QF. Tel: 01737 760212

***

The low-down

Verdict:

Food 9

Venue 8

Service 8

What we ate:

Starters

Ceviche of scallops and salmon, almond snow, £8.50

Terrine of ham hock, foie gras and pigeon, with pickled cherries, £7.50

Main courses

Zarzuela, £19.75

Confit and magret of landaise duck, fricassee of borlotti and broad beans, peas and tomato, £16.25

Desserts

White chocolate cheesecake and strawberries, £6.75

Peaches in Muscat, mascarpone and crushed amaretti, £6.75

Drinks

Grain de Folie,Fronton 2011, £23.95

***

REVIEW: Not so long ago, the Elm Shades in Earlswood stood very much as a drinkers’ pub and it’s fair to say it had seen better days.

I live around the corner and have watched on as the area has steadily improved in recent years. However, while us locals already have a couple of nice pubs in the shape of The Plough (great pub grub) and the Joshua Tree (something slightly different with kangaroo steaks and the like on offer – highly recommended), we have been a little short of a restaurant – the trip into Reigate still proving essential to tick that box.

So I was excited when rumours became fact and the news arrived that Jon and Cynthia Coomb were set to take the reins of the old pub by St John’s Church.

From the Nutley Hall in Reigate, the Stephan Langton in Friday Street, near Dorking, and The Westerley in Reigate, their reputation precedes them and each venue they’ve tackled has gone on to be top of many local foodies’ lists.

Suffice to say, I was pretty thrilled by the prospect of trying out their latest venture and with the word on the street already positive by the time we visited, the signs were looking good.

Now a few will bemoan the loss of a staunchly real ale pub, as the Elm Shades was, and The Pendleton is probably more restaurant than bar, but even while it was being refurbished and the striking painted mural crept up its outside, it has looked like a breath of fresh air.

Named after the road it’s found on, its interior is a mix of unusual chandeliers, mirrors and faux antlers. It’s quite a transformation. Relaxed and cosy, with a welcoming atmosphere, there’s a large garden with plenty of opportunity for expansion when the time comes.

There’s also a bar with stools and sofas for drinks – and while there’s no ‘real ale’, there is a selection of craft beers from the Camden brewery. The real magic occurs in the kitchen though and when we arrived on a Saturday night, diners already waited expectantly at the well-spaced tables.

After a cheeky aperitif from the cocktail list, a bottle of French red was ordered and delivered along with a jug of iced water.

Long-time friends

Bread swiftly followed and our waitress for the evening told us that her time with the owners stretched all the way back to their Nutley days. It showed and there seemed to be a genuine care about her approach.

My wife Sylviane opted for the ceviche of scallops and salmon with almond snow to start, while I went for the terrine of ham hock, foie gras and pigeon with pickled cherries. The terrine proved a pleasing mix of textures, with its ingredients acting like little islands to explore, and the cherries were a nice touch too – a crisp added bite to the scallops and salmon, which were perfectly prepared. Delicious.

My main course came out of left field, when I noticed a one word entry on the menu where most were short descriptions: Zarzuela; what in the world was that? A Spanish take on Bouillabaisse, a traditional Provençal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille, it turns out.

In my curiosity, I had to try it and what arrived was a steaming, rich and lightly spiced broth with plenty of fish to sustain and a hearty chunk of slightly charred, very tasty garlic bread. It was a combination that steadily built to the dish’s conclusion and was highly satisfying.

Sylviane’s confit and magret of landaise duck, fricassee of borlotti and broad beans, with peas and tomato was well-received too; succulent meat on fresh beans, and plenty of it as well.

A deconstructed white chocolate cheesecake and strawberries and fresh peaches in Muscat, mascarpone and crushed amaretti provided our finale, 
both surprisingly complex for what had read as simple dishes and very, very 
good to boot.

The Pendleton has a very unpretentious air for the quality of food on offer, and by the time it came to leave, we were reluctant. In short, what we have here is a laid-back bar that serves extremely good food at reasonable prices. I’m not sure whether there will be pub quizzes and the like anytime soon, to be honest, but the transformation of this little corner of Earlswood is one that I will be particularly looking to take advantage of.

***

3 more great foodie pubs in Surrey

The Hare & Hounds

Lingfield Common Road, Lingfield RH7 6BZ Tel: 01342 832351

Head off the beaten track near the east Surrey village of Lingfield and you’ll discover the hidden gem that is The Hare & Hounds, a shabby chic, foodies’ delight.

The Inn @ West End

42 Guildford Road, West End GU24 9PW Tel: 01276 858652

Family-run by Gerry and Ann Price, with an open fire and fantastic wine list (in fact, they also have their own wine shop), they have certainly earned their place on our county’s culinary map.

Hand & Spear

Old Heath Road, Weybridge KT13 8TX Tel: 01932 828063

Part of the Young’s group, this pub has recently been refurbished and reopened with MasterChef: The Professionals semi-finalist Karl Byron in charge of the kitchen.

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