Wednesday, 20 November 2013

19 November - Las Iguanas, The Malthouse, High Street, Kingston

We had decided to try Las Iguanas on the strength of it being near the Rose Theatre, where later we were going to see Fascinating Aïda - and one of us had been to a sister restaurant in Birmingham, while another had liked the sound of the menu.

There was a friendly welcome and a pleasant atmosphere that set us at ease at once. (Some of us have had less than good experiences at chain restaurants.)

Drinks: We were happy to order caipirinhas for all four of us and - as we were in time for Happy Hour - we got two for the price of one! They were the best caipirinhas we've had - and we've had a few by now in the line of duty. [In case you are unfamiliar with this drink, it is considered Brazil's national cocktail, made with cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime - very refreshing and moreish.]

We went for starters and main courses to begin with - but were not excluding the possibility of desserts. We had a lot of time to spare before it was theatre time, after all.

Starters: 1x Pato Taquito (duck and caramelised onion in a tortilla, with a delicious cranberry salsa), 1x Prawns in a garlic, lemon and chilli sauce, 1x Chicken wings with the new sweet & spicy guava sauce, 1x Albondigas (lamb meatballs in a spicy tomato & chilli sauce). We enjoyed all the dishes. The cranberry salsa and the guava sauce were particularly delicious. Each dish had a delightful bite of spice.

Main courses: 2x Xinxim (Lime chicken with a crayfish & peanut sauce), 1x Chicken fajitas, 1x Pollo Caruru (chicken and butternut squash in a seafood and coconut milk sauce). The Xinxim was excellent, a mild creamy sauce with plenty of chicken. The fajitas were also good, while the Pollo Caruru, a dish new to us all, was a welcome discovery.

We weakened and had 'just a quick look' at the dessert menu.

Desserts: 2x Creamy caramel cake, 1x Ice cream (vanilla and dulce de leche), 1x Sorbet (lemon, raspberry and mango). All the desserts were finished with relish - by us, not by the chef. The cake was light and sweet, the ice cream was very good and the sorbet refreshing.

We rounded off the meal with more of those excellent caipirinhas.

All the food was delicious and well presented, and every dish (well, not the desserts) was piping hot when it arrived at the table. The service was informal, friendly and excellent. The restaurant itself was pleasant and welcoming.

The cost for all that was a few pence over £34 per head, including 12.5% service.


Friday, 16 August 2013

12 August - The Grumpy Mole at the Inn on the Green, Dorking Road, Tadworth

After an unanticipated and ridiculously long hiatus of more than 2 years (gasp!), the Old Horses' Nose Bag Club reconvened for a trip to the Grumpy Mole in Tadworth.

As we arrived, the restaurant immediately felt cosy and welcoming, the staff were friendly.

Pretending that we are concerned about our waist lines, all four of us decided to avoid the starters. Besides, the desserts looked interesting...

Main courses: 1 x Beef Stroganof, 1 x Venison Wellington, 2 x Rib-Eye Steak. Each of these was perfectly cooked and well presented, as well as delicious. The beef in the Stroganoff was tender and tasty, the venison was properly pink in the centre and melted in the mouth. The steaks, cooked by the chef (rather than on a stone at the table, which was the other choice), were exactly as they were ordered, medium rare, and of excellent quality.

Desserts: 1 x Bread & Butter Pudding, 1 x Squidgy Meringue with red berries, 1 x Key Lime Sundae, 1 x Apple Strudel. Again well presented and each dish was delicious in its own way. Paul was very impressed by the deconstructed Key Lime  Pie/Sundae, and enjoyed the light texture very much. I could taste every ingredient of the strudel, it was a treat to eat.

Drinks: 1 x Pinotage, 1 x Merlot, 1 x Gin & tonic....

All told a very enjoyable meal in pleasant surroundings. The staff were attentive and helpful without being pushy or hovering. The cost was just over £30 per head, with a tip.



Thursday, 21 April 2011

21 April - Field To Fork, South Street, Epsom

6 South Street, Epsom, Surrey, KT18 7PF
01372 744130;

Paul, Lyn and I had looked forward to trying out Field to Fork since we first discovered that it had opened, especially as it looked so promising from the outside.

The decor is very tasteful and modern. The service is excellent and the staff are very friendly and welcoming.

Starters: 2 x Oven baked scallops, leeks, champagne cream & puff pastry; 1 x Ham hock & parsley terrine, mustard apple chutney & toast.
While the ham terrine was very tasty, with a delicious chutney and crunchy toast, the scallop dish was disappointing. The champagne was thin and not very tasty, and frankly this with a few slices of scallop seemed over priced at £7.95 (the most expensive starter on the menu).

Mains: 2 x Bridge Farm sharing plate of pork: slow cooked belly, roast rack, black pudding, dauphinoise potato, roasted chantenay carrots & apple sauce; Slow cooked duck leg, hispi cabbage, sautéed potato,
caramelised red onion & shallot puree.
The pork sharing plate was very good - in particular the belly was tender and declicious. The duck leg had plenty of meat and had been butterflied(?) so the skin was wonderfully crisp and the meat was succulent and scrumptious.

Drinks: 2 x caipirinhas, 1 x Pepsi
The cairpirinhas were good, but not good enough for the £7 price tag. Little Dudley House, a restaurant I would say was a notch or more better than Field to Fork, charges £5.50 for a (slightly) better version.

So, for the most part, the food was very good (with the caveat about the scallop starter), the atmosphere was pleasant with a lively buzz and the service and staff friendly and excellent. What stops this restaurant from getting a four star rating, on this outing, is its pricing. We feel that, while the food is generally of a good standard, it is rather over priced.


Monday, 21 March 2011

18 March - Field To Fork, South Street, Epsom

Chris and Barbara visited Field to Fork for lunch. It was by way of a recce for a possible future evening visit. Various club members had seperately noticed this new restaurant in the centre of town and wondered... Lyn and Hazel had even been there for coffee and noted the pleasant atmosphere.

We started with the freshly baked bread and green olives - both very good. Barbara followed that with the Beetroot carpaccio with walnut & Golden Cross goats cheese dressing, whil Chris chose the Bridge Farm pork & spiced apple sandwich with fries.

We drank a bottle of sparkling water and finished our lunch with an espresso for Barbara and a latte for Chris.

The atmosphere was, as the other Old Horses had previously noted, very comfortable and welcoming.

The food was excellent. Barbara thoroughly enjoyed her carpaccio. Chris thought the pork was delicious. His only complaint was that the amount of bread in the sandwich was too much (but then he had already eaten a decent amount to start). Barbara was very impressed by the espresso, which she takes as a sign of a very good establishment.

The service was very good - prompt and helpful.

Cost: less than £30, including service.

Our rating: FOUR STARS

Thursday, 10 February 2011

28 January 2011 - Little Dudley House, Dorking RH4 2JU

A repeat visit to a venue that we really enjoyed on our previous visit (18th June 2010; It did not disappoint happily, as we had bigged it up to the 4th Old Horse, Hazel, and brought her with us.

Starters: Smoked salmon (x 3) and guinea fowl terrine.

Mains: A Chateaubriand for two, Slow Cooked Duck Leg and Duo of Pork (Braised Cheeks and Roast Loin), plus an extra portion of 'Hand Cut Thrice Cooked Chips'.

Desserts: A bit of a gap in the memory here, but I do remember several of us having the Chocolate and Chestnut Torte.

Drinks: Caipirinhas x 2, Mojito and Long Island Iced Tea; water.

As before, we were unable to find anything to criticise. Excellent food, delicious drinks and wonderful service.

Our rating: FIVE STARS

12 November 2010 - Y Polyn, Capel Dewi, Carmarthen SA32 7LH

I've managed to delay this posting so very long, that I can no longer remember everything we had. I know I had a lamb stew which was utterly delicious, but that's it. And the menu has changed, so I can't use that to jog my poor memory.

What I can tell you is that I can heartily recommend this restaurant. The atmosphere is welcoming and warm, the staff are efficient and friendly, and the food is well presented and delicious.

Our rating: FIVE STARS

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

24 August 2010 - The Peking, High Street, Dorking

An unintentional comedy nosebag

Where to start? We had planned a pleasant evening at the William IV pub in Albury ( Their website encouraged us to expect something out of the ordinary with its talk of using 'local produce whenever possible' and 'including sometimes the free-range pork that Giles [Giles Madge - 'your host'] raises himself'. The menu at the pub refers to various breeds of pig, for added interest. Well, the beer was good but the menu was, to say the least, uninspiring - as far as we are concerned. No effort is made to incorporate the rare breeds into the menu - the only pork dishes we could see, both on the list of specials, were 'pork chops' and 'cumberland ring'. Shame. We didn't stay after we'd finished our beer.

So we headed off to Dorking, already later than we wanted, where we knew there would be a few places to choose from.

We walked past the Bali (we've been before - and the Gurkha Kitchen (almost empty). We passed an empty Thai restaurant and came to the Sang Thai and the Peking, which are next to each other. We chose the Peking, as Paul and I had had a Thai meal last weekend. A pity, that.

First impressions were good. Nice tables, a friendly greeting, a moderately priced buffet. The prawn crackers brought to us while we looked over the menu were tasty enough. We happily chose 6 starters (salt & pepper ribs, barbecue ribs, smoked shredded chicken, chicken wings, Mongolian lamb and sesame prawn toast) and three main courses (crispy shredded beef, sea spicy shredded pork and chicken with satay) plus egg fried rice and Singapore noodles. We were ready for it.

OK, maybe we're spoiled. You can tell from some of my previous posts that we have been to some very nice restaurants, but...
  • the smoked shredded chicken was almost cold
  • the chicken wings were overly greasy
  • we had to ask for the barbecue ribs twice
  • the Mongolian lamb, when it eventually arrived, was very fatty with some tough pieces - and had clearly been hanging around as the sauce was cool and thickened
To be fair, the salt & pepper ribs and the prawn toast were fine.

As for the main courses:
  • the crispy shredded beef would have been good had it been warm - or, better, hot - and if the batter had still been crisp
  • the chicken with satay was OK but we were not convinced it had ever seen a peanut
  • the rice was bland at best
On the plus side:
  • the sea spicy shredded pork was very tasty and
  • the Singapore noodles were among the best we've ever had
  • Paul and Lyn's jasmine tea was very good and did not grow bitter. and it was refilled part way through the meal
We also noticed that some of the serving staff were a little on the brusque side.

Still, the comedy service lightened matters. The waitress who almost threw our dishes at us with a mumbled 'Your lamb'. The finger bowl that was taken in passing - and before we had even been served with the missing barbecue ribs! The disintegrating heated towels.

Overall, a patchy performance on all fronts.

Our rating: TWO STARS

PS: The comedy continued on the way home. One of us, who shall remain nameless (Lyn), managed to fiddle with a knob on Paul's seat by the head rest. That would have been OK, except that (i) he was driving and (ii) it made his seat shoot back till his feet struggled to reach the pedals! (Visions of clown cars, doors dropping off etc.)

Peking on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 8 August 2010

EXTRA! EXTRA! Restaurants in la Belle France, no. 2

On our way to Toulouse airport for our flight home, we stayed over first at Najac, then in Toulouse itself.

At Najac, a beautful medieval village (, we stayed  in a Logis ( the Belle Rive ( It was nicely located - our room looked across the river and up the hill at the local chateau.

We ate at the hotel; their menus read extremely well. Stupidly, I didn't make any notes but the food was very good. I do recall that Paul had the Astet Najacois, a local speciality of roasst pork and filet mignon. I had the Boudin au canard - basically, black pudding with duck meat. Both very tasty and beautifully presented.

Finally, for our single night in Toulouse, we ate at Benjamin (found in the trusty Rough Guide to France). Again, not entirely clear now about what we ate, other than that I had the local speciality, cassoulet. The food was good, but the service was rather slow and desultory.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Restaurants in la Belle France, no. 1

Paul and I recently spent a fortnight in France. We are lucky to have friends who are willing to let us use their lovely holiday home in rural France, near Monistrol d'Allier - not far from Le Puy-en-Velay, where the lentils come from.

Monsitrol is a pleasant little town on the pilgrimage route through France to San Sebastian de Compostela in Spain. The main restaurant was, until recently, at a hotel called Les Gorges and, particularly for a French eatery, frankly dire.

Fortunately, it has new owners and (wisely, I think) a new name - Le Pain de Sucre (The Sugarloaf). Even better, the restaurant has been renovated from a dreary, dull room, to a bright and airy one. And, better still, the food on offer is extremely tasty. We visited three times over the two weeks we were there and were never disappointed. They do delicious, thin-crust pizzas and and an excellent €18 menu with 3 courses. Their confit of duck was delicious.

On 20th July, we decided we fancied lunch out. It makes a change from my standard baguette, paté and cheese. :o)

We chose to visit a restaurant we had only recently discovered (despite passing close to it many times) in nearby St Christophe sur Dolaizon; the Auberge du Grand Chemin, run by Julie and Julien Bonfils. They are a charming couple, welcoming and friendly. The food is excellent.

We took a table inside, out of the hot sun, to profit from the €16.50 (four course!) menu. Outside, you get to choose from a selection of salades and other dishes.

After Julie had taken our order - in good English and with a cheerful smile at our attempts a French, Julienpopped out of the kitchen to give us an amuse-bouche in a shot glass. It was made up of mashed Le Puy Lentils, covered in salted Chantilly cream, sprinkled with chopped peanuts. We were, to be honest, dubious, but really enjoyed the tastes.

To start, we had the trout with green lentils and the gratinée of bleu d'Auvergne (a very tasty take on cheese on toast). Next came the cocotte (in this case, a beef stew) and small steak in a green pepper sauce. Delicious. This was followed by fromage blanc (unmatured cheese) with cream and honey. Very nice. Finally, we were treated to an assiette gourmand ("greedy plate") made up of four tiny desserts: maccaron; compote of banana and apple covered in cinnamon crumble; choux buns with Chantilly cream and chocolate sauce; and a blueberry sorbet. I think we must have enjoyed this, because we finished every last morsel.

The cost of two menus, a 50cl carafe of a good house white and two HUGE cafés au lait: €45. Very good value, so far as we are concerned.