Water’s Edge, Horsell Common, near Woking GU21 4XY – restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 09:12 10 January 2016 | UPDATED: 20:10 14 June 2016
Already among Surrey Life’s top ‘restaurant’ tips for 2016, Water’s Edge at Horsell Common’s new wetland centre, Heather Farm, promises to be everything but just a café. Matthew Williams visits to catch-up with pop-up dining queen, Aneke Spacie, to discover what new foodie magic she’s planning on conjuring
Originally published in January 2016
Need to know:
Heather Farm, Horsell Common, Woking, Surrey GU21 4XY
Tel: 01483 726556
REVIEW: As this space age town prepares for a year of Wells in Woking celebrations, the nearby Horsell Common is welcoming a very different invasion – and one that, this writer predicts, will prove hugely popular.
Long a Surrey Life favourite, chef Aneke Spacie is perhaps best known for her quirky and creative pop-up restaurants (see our Food By Aneke and Byfleet Manor reviews), and now she’s finally got a restaurant home to call her own.
Unsurprisingly, she hasn’t opted for any old run-of-the-mill premises either. Water’s Edge is based on a newly created nature reserve, minutes from Woking town centre.
Surrey Life visits for breakfast on opening day, and finds a stylish café, bedding into its new surroundings.
Inside, it’s snug and there’s ‘trees’ and ‘plants’ decorating the walls, highlighting the ‘back to nature’ plans for the place: they’re learning to look after their own chickens and are planning to grow plenty of the kitchen’s produce.
The menu is practical, rather than focussing on some of the more curveball turns Aneke’s pop-up restaurants are famous for, but still has appealingly unique touches: from cinnamon dusted buttermilk French toast and Heather Farm honey to crispy fried panko egg, lemon thyme-roasted heirloom tomatoes, young spinach and basil aioli or lobster scotch egg, saffron cauliflower cream, choi and spicy red Thai curry etc.
It’s currently a long menu, which I’d expect to be paired down a little as they find their feet. Prices are extremely reasonable for the dishes on display and it’s obvious that, while the staples are there (occasionally with a twist!) for walkers and riders, there’s plenty to excite avid foodies too.
Regular Surrey Life readers will already know of Aneke Spacie, via our foodie adventures (see earlier links), but for the uninitiated: she’s been a professional chef for over 20 years, from Michelin star restaurants to menu development and catering for high profile celebrities.
Her touch is already all over the place, and a certain Daniel Britten (previously best known as head chef at the award-winning Britten’s restaurant in Guildford, where he won best local menu at the 2015 Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards) is helping out in the post-launch kitchen.
Open for breakfasts and lunches to start, 8.30am to 4.30pm, with the plan to have private dining and pop-ups occasionally in evenings, Water’s Edge is sure to prove a hit, with great food and surroundings supplemented by the stunning walking county on offer.
Even if your ambitions lie no further than a bite to eat in the café, you’ll find lakes, boardwalks and, yes, a tree-sculpted crocodile (every restaurant needs one) on the doorstep.
Our general keenness to visit means that my wife and I are the first people through the door, with our one-year-old daughter in toe. They’ve thought of the kids, and there are high chairs and a little corner for them to play in.
Well aware of Aneke’s more creative dishes (which we’re already on paper fans of), we head straight for the breakfast staples to see how things add up at that end of the spectrum.
My ‘WEdge’ breakfast is hard to beat for £7.50, all locally produced pork sausage, bacon, homemade black pudding, flat mushroom, grill tomato and sauté potatoes. So good – and so reasonable – I start checking out the area’s house prices, as a weekendly trip from Redhill is probably pushing things a little. Tempting though.
Sylviane’s eggs Benedict, locally-sourced baked ham, poached eggs with hollandaise is another winner and comes in at £7. The coffee is great too.
Suitably fuelled and with imaginations fired, we head out into Horsell Common Preservation Society’s 916 acres of high forest, woodland and meadows to hunt for HG Wells and his Martians (more on that in Surrey Life later this year).
Suffice to say, with their endless creativity, we fully expect Water’s Edge to be one of the most talked about new restaurant/café launches of the year in Surrey – and probably further afield once word catches on, too.
3 more Surrey restaurants to keep an eye on in 2016
The Latymer at Pennyhill Park, Bagshot
It’s a case of watch this space over at Pennyhill Park’s two Michelin starred, The Latymer, where it’s been announced head chef Michael Wignall will be leaving to replace Michael Caines as Gidleigh Park. 2013 winner of the BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals, Steven Edwards, will take over in the short-term and we expect a permanent replacement to be announcement soon.
While many locals were sad to see the apparent closure of La Luna, the Italian fine dining restaurant in Godalming, it quickly rose again in September, under the same ownership, as Barbaracca. They’re serving up rustic Sicilian and Italian family food.
London House, West Byfleet
There’s been some confusion surrounding the future of Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards 2015 restaurant of the year finalist, London House, but things are becoming clearer as Ben Piette’s move from Old Woking to West Byfleet comes closer to becoming a reality. Expect the restaurant to reopen in its new location at some point in the near future.