The Three Horseshoes, Thursley, Surrey GU8 6QD - restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 13:34 20 November 2014 | UPDATED: 21:38 07 April 2015
A quintessential English inn, The Three Horseshoes in Thursley was recently named Surrey Dining Pub of the Year in the Good Pub Guide. Matthew Williams visits
The Three Horseshoes
Dyehouse Road, Thursley, Surrey GU8 6QD
Tel: 01252 703268
What we ate:
Scottish smoked salmon, fresh crab and prawns with seaweed potato salad, celeriac and lemon, £12
Spanish spicy stew, ‘Fabada’, with fresh coco beans, chicken, garlic, roquito peppers, morcilla, chorizo and saffron, £9.50
Roasted rump of Orkney gold lamb with a fondant potato, curly kale, shallot purée and lamb jus, £18
Confit duck leg with black pudding, potato dauphinoise and goose fat haricot beans, £16.50
Chocolate brownie, £6.50
Vanilla panna cotta, £6.50
Bodega Fin Del Mundo, Reserva Malbec 2011, £7.95 for a large glass
Pint of Soul of the Shoes, £3.80
REVIEW: Thursley is one of those beautiful villages we are blessed with in Surrey that, despite being barely off the beaten track, tend not to be very well-known by those residing outside the immediate locality.
There is certainly much to recommend this area though, with weekend excursions in the not too distant past seeing Surrey Life on the set of both the Skyfall and Macbeth filming at nearby Hankley Common and enjoying a leisurely stroll or three along the stunning Thursley Common boardwalk.
The village itself is found in the middle of the countryside roughly between Farnham, Haslemere and Guildford and, as the above attests, the surrounding area is packed full of hidden gems (we haven’t even mentioned the likes of The Sculpture Park in Churt, Frensham Ponds and Waverley Abbey yet!).
All this – plus peace and quiet – and only a brief flick of the wheel off the A3.
It was not for any of these reasons, however, that the village had become our destination for this particular evening – on this occasion, we were headed for The Three Horseshoes.
While having long-known the reputation of – and fantastic story behind – the pub, I’d previously only ever made fleeting visits for post-walk refreshment. But having recently been named Surrey’s county dining pub of the year by the Good Pub Guide for the umpteenth time, it was long overdue a place in our pages.
For those enjoying their first taste of The Three Horseshoes, this is a place with an interesting background; a decade ago, the pub was saved from developers by the villagers themselves and is run today by Sandra Proni and David Alders.
With the building dating back partly to the 16th century, it’s full of as many nooks and crannies as you might expect. Formula One legend Damon Hill (a sometime regular) once told Surrey Life that “you kind of walk through the door and bang into the bar!” and there certainly is an intimacy to the place. Like the good Doctor’s Tardis, however, it’s deceptively sprawling once you swerve around the locals in the bar area (and booking a table should avoid any disappointment).
Met by the enthusiastic and welcoming bar manager Ryan Healey, we were led to a table at the far end of the dining room – presumably with a garden view, but not at the hour of our visit.
The Shoes has that immediately homely feel that wraps around you within minutes. Ryan recommended I try a pint of their 10th anniversary beer, Soul of the Shoes, which has been produced in a collaborative effort with the youthful Frensham Brewery. Very good it was too and nicely sums up the pub’s ‘love local’ ethos.
Fully relaxed into place, Sylviane and I now faced something of a challenge; the menu is packed full with tempting options.
Just the starters took time to work through. Grilled scallops with pancetta? Tiger prawns with a wasabi infused dip? Terrine of hare and wood pigeon? In the end, Sylviane opted for the Scottish smoked salmon and I went for the moreish sounding Fabada (spicy Spanish stew).
They don’t shirk on their portions at the Shoes! Sylviane’s beautifully fresh salmon arrived with fresh crab and prawns and a seaweed potato salad. My stew was a dream with fresh coco beans, chicken, garlic, chorizo and more making a hearty feast with a tasty kick of chilli running through. Both dishes very different, but both delicious. Mine could have easily stepped up to a main course.
On that subject, Sylviane decided on the confit duck leg, which accompanied by Stornaway black pudding, potato dauphinoise and goose fat haricot beans had a nod to the French cassoulet and proved a perfect winter warmer.
My lamb was everything you’d hope for from such a dish, and proved that the kitchen is just as strong at the traditional as the experimental. This is most definitely pub food rather than fine dining, but it’s also really, really good pub food – and that’s nothing to be sniffed at. It’s the kind of place you wish you lived next door to.
By some natural miracle, when the dessert menu materialised, we both felt compelled to dive in: Sylviane straight for the rich, chocolate brownie, while I opted for the lighter panna cotta. Both excellent.
Around us, the evening had bubbled up nicely, with packed tables all seemingly enjoying life just as much as we were.
So there you go, a pub perfect for a post-winter walk stop-off (they even have maps of suggested strolls) or a top quality feast with friends and family. Currently riding the crest of a wave, perhaps there’s no better time to visit than now.
3 Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards 2014 finalists for Pub of the Year
The William Bray
Shere Lane, Shere GU5 9HS
Tel: 01483 202044
Named after the 18th century Lord of the Manor at Shere, this pub is committed to offering great quality, locally-sourced, seasonal food and drink whenever possible (they say you could walk to quite a few of their suppliers from the bar).
The Four Horseshoes
13-15 Burrow Hill Green, Chobham GU24 8QP
Tel: 01276 856257
Whilst they serve fantastic food in their dining room, they are still very firm here about being first and foremost a pub. They welcome dogs and muddy boots, serve sandwiches and lighter snacks, and also real ale.
The Fox Revived
Norwood Hill RH6 0ET
Tel: 01293 862312
A little hideaway surprisingly unaffected by being located a few minutes from Gatwick Airport, the owners of this unusual ranch-style building have long been known as champions of local produce.