The Restaurant at Tante Marie, Woking GU21 6HN – restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 14:59 28 June 2015 | UPDATED: 17:40 28 June 2015
The UK’s longest established cookery school has made a leap into the 21st century, as Tante Marie settles into Woking town centre. Matthew Williams visits The Restaurant to find out if it lives up to the promise
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2015
The Restaurant at Tante Marie
59-61 Commercial Way, Woking GU21 6HN
Tel: 01483 724173
What we ate:
• Twice-baked haddock soufflé with mustard cream, roasted cherry tomatoes and mixed leaves, £6
• Salmon gravlax with apple and potato rösti, citrus crème fraiche, £6
• Spring vegetable risotto with parmesan shavings and crispy rocket, £12
• Roast chicken supreme with crushed potatoes, pesto and cherry tomatoes, £12
• Tante Marie chocolate brownie with vanilla ice-cream, £6
• Apple and raspberry crumble with double cream, £6
• Côtes de Gascogne, France, £6 (175ml)
• Les Boules, Vin de France, France, £6 (250ml)
REVIEW: Surrey Life readers with long memories will remember the challenging eyes of Gordon Ramsay staring out from our front cover back in 2009.
The piece inside that edition followed up on the chef becoming the majority shareholder of Woking’s historic Tante Marie Culinary Academy, in partnership with Lyndy Redding and Andrew Maxwell.
“Tante Marie is the ultimate launch pad for a career in cooking,” he said at the time.
Well, things have just got even more exciting with the school’s multimillion pound move to central Woking – and more specifically, for me, the launch of The Restaurant.
Frankly, I’d no idea what to expect from a cookery school’s restaurant. From my home economic experiences, probably shouting, accidental flambéing and unrecognisable ‘dishes’. Fortunately, none of that is to be found here.
Natural light flows through the floor-to-ceiling windowed walls from the newly cosmopolitan street outside (perfect for alfresco dining); a sophisticated (and well-stocked) bar catches the eye; and well-spaced tables draw you in. The Restaurant is every bit the professional destination – and aesthetically holds its weight against any of the nearby High Street chain gang.
On the table, my wife Sylviane and I were greeted by ‘school report’ menus with the short lunch menu printed inside. Simple and neat, with four options each for starters, main courses and desserts.
Glasses of wine ordered, we settled into the ambiance. It already seems a well-oiled machine. Service is friendly, the music is soothing and you’d have absolutely no idea that 60 future masterchefs are hard at work upstairs studying for their diplomas.
School of fish
For the starter, I opted for a twice-baked haddock soufflé, which was as light as clouds, and given a welcoming kick by an accompanying mustard cream. Sylviane was tempted by the Salmon gravlax on a bed of earthy apple and potato rösti – the place where the sea and land meet. It was a hint of what was to come: uncomplicated dishes that let their ingredients do the talking. In an interesting aside, the same Bookham fishmonger (Ron Fowler & Son) has been supplying Tante Marie for around 40 years.
Onto the main courses, and the roast chicken supreme proved to be a perfect lunch option. Tasty as anything, but light enough not to write off the afternoon at work. Sylviane’s spring vegetable risotto was an indulgent delight.
With room left for dessert (always), Sylviane couldn’t resist the Tante Marie chocolate brownie (moreish), while I opted for the apple and raspberry crumble (an excellent crumble with deliciously sharp fruit cutting through, and double cream on the side to top up at your discretion).
As we’ve noted before in these pages, there is a very obvious and growing excitement in the Surrey dining scene – well, it’s spreading; and The Restaurant at Tante Marie is a shot in the arm for Woking.