The Plough Inn, Plough Lane, Downside, Cobham KT11 3LT - restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 09:32 12 October 2015 | UPDATED: 15:39 12 October 2015
Swing out of Cobham town centre and you'll find a 'countryside' pub sizzling with new life and packed full of class. Matthew Williams pays a visit to The Plough Inn to discover just what's cooking
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2015
The Plough Inn
Plough Lane, Downside, Cobham KT11 3LT
Tel: 01932 589790
What we ate...
Dressed Devon Crab on Toasted Sourdough with Lemon Oil, £8
Pressed Smoked Pork Belly special, £6
Wagyu-Angus Cross Sirloin, 28-Day Dry-Aged, £40 for 200g
Cornish Hake with a Courgette & Crab Salad, Goat’s Curd & Thyme, £14
Eton mess, £5
Chocolate brownie, £5
The Plough’s Rare Breed Ale (blended by Caledonian Brewery), £4.20
U. Passimiento, IGT, Baglio Gibellina, £5.50 for 125ml
The Cunning Plan, Shiraz, Langhorne Creek, Thistledown, £6.50 for 125ml
Côtes de Provence, Rosé, Cuvée Des Lices, Ravoire et Fils, £6.50 for 175ml
REVIEW: When frustration at the local dining scene got the better of them, four Surrey friends did the obvious thing: they bought one of their local pubs. Well, some of us can dream…
Once-upon-a-time a workers’ cottage for the Cobham Park Estate, The Plough Inn has been showered with love in recent months and veritably sparkles now. There’s melting candles in the fireplace, throws on the sofas and glossy-magazine interior design throughout, but all while maintaining the inherent character.
In an area perhaps best-known these days as the home of Chelsea FC, this place immediately looks the part. However, if footballers’ wives glitz isn’t your bag, it hasn’t lost any of its historic pub charm either. Cleverly split into snug, bar and restaurant areas, there’s also a lovely garden, so you can relax where you feel most at home.
Located just outside Cobham town centre, it’s also surrounded by fields and alongside The Medicine Garden sanctuary, so retains a lost-in-the-countryside feel despite barely being off the beaten track.
Sober as a judge
On our arrival, my wife Sylviane, daughter Iona and I were greeted at the door by the exuberant manager Axel, who ensured a fun and faultless night was to be had throughout – no easy task considering, that same week, we were also midway through our judging run for the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards’ Pub of the Year!
Back to the matter in hand though, and this is probably a good time to explain how this new incarnation of The Plough came about. Having grown aggrieved with being forced to travel into London for a decent steak and paying over-the-top prices for American produce, the owners decided to start their own venture locally. As such, meat is definitely at the centre of the menu here, and there’s even a butcher’s counter by the kitchen, just in case you miss the raison d’être. You can even spot the chefs bustling away with their latest creations through the window beyond it.
For now, we were swept through to the main dining room area; hayloft above, light bulbs falling like raindrops from the ceiling and well-spaced tables welcoming in newcomers and regulars alike.
While the steak and charcoal grill is obviously the star, it should be said that there are plenty of interesting fish and veggie options on offer too – so, if you’re avoiding your red meat, or any meat, it should still prove a worthwhile journey.
Sylviane opted for a fresh crab dish to start, while I couldn’t resist something off the specials board. My pressed, smoked pork belly (cold-smoked for three hours in the pub’s smoker and slow-cooked in duck fat with thyme and garlic) was an absolute winner, served with poppingly fresh peas and a roasted garlic mayo. Absolutely moreish, and a nod to what might be to come from the kitchen team.
Sticking to the fish dishes, for her main course Sylviane chose the hake with a courgette and crab salad, goat’s curd and thyme. While I managed to sneak a forkful, the plate was jealously guarded.
Top of the league
Call me predictable, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of the Wagyu-Angus Cross Sirloin, which comes with a choice of 28-day or 50-day aging. This isn’t cheap but, my, it’s worth it for any steak-lover. Charcoal-grilled to perfection, it was meltingly good meat with a real depth to its flavour, and immediately leapt to the top of my ‘Best Steaks Ever’ list (which is kept pinned to the fridge…). Accompanied by a cavernous peppercorn sauce and triple-cooked chips on the side, it left me longing for more.
Make sure to keep a little room for dessert though, if our mouth-watering Eton mess and chocolate brownie are anything to go by.
Suffice to say, The Plough is everything that a top-end modern British pub aspires to be. I’d be amazed if it doesn’t go down a storm with the affluent diners in Cobham, Elmbridge and, indeed, as a destination for Surrey residents from further afield.
3 Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards Pub of the Year finalists
Dog and Pheasant
Haslemere Road, Brook GU8 5UJ
Tel: 01428 682763
A quintessentially English pub, found across from the village cricket pitch, this is another place that does its steak exceptionally well. Head there on a Wednesday grill night for the prime cuts.
The Onslow Arms
The Street, West Clandon GU4 7TF
Tel: 01483 222447
Set in the swanky countryside surrounds of Clandon, this beautiful pub is one that takes its food very seriously – and the fish specials are some of the best around.
The Red Lion
Castle Street, Bletchingley RH1 4NU
Tel: 01883 743342
One of those places that you’ve probably driven past numerous times and thought ‘well, that looks interesting’. Now’s the time to stop off, whether popping in for a drink or making the most of the delicious menu (the curries are fantastic).