Thursday, 22 October 2009

15th October 2009 - Bwyty Mawwddach, Maesygarnedd, Llanelltyd, Dolgellau LL40 2TA

(01341 424020 -

Starters: Butternut squash soup and Homemade chicken liver pate with chutney and toast.

Mains: Sea Bass with salsa verde and home made chips and Local aged Welsh black rib eye steak with homemade chips, slow roasted plum tomato, field mushrooms and garlic butter.

Drinks: Two pints of fizzy Boddingtons. Good but could be better.

Cost: £48 plus tip.

A stylish new restaurant a short drive from Dolgellau. The building is lovely with exposed beams and clean lines.

The staff were friendly and efficient. The food was very well cooked and presented; and it tasted excellent.

Our rating: FIVE STARS

Saturday 19th September 2009 - Blue Mint, 21 Waterloo Road, Epsom

(01372 724167 -

Starters: Spicy crab cakes; Bata chop and Chicken chaat with puri.

Mains: Fish Korma; Chicken Biryani and Khodu lamb, with pilau rice.

Drinks: Beer.

Cost: c £70.

On the whole, the food remains as good as it was on our previous visit ( The Chicken Biryani was just a tasty as before and the Khodu lamb was excellent. HOWEVER, the Fish korma was, at best, bland.

The problem we had was that, after we had eaten the poppadoms brought to eat while we ordered, we were left for about 40-50 minutes just waiting. We noticed that none of the other customer seemed to get any food either. No explanation was given, service just suddenly resumed.

Maybe we would be better off visiting mid-week, as we did the first time?

Our rating: FOUR STARS

Thursday, 3 September 2009

EXTRA! EXTRA! - Some restaurants in Amsterdam...

Over the August Bank Holiday, as it our custom, Paul and I went to Amsterdam. We were there from Saturday 29th August to Tuesday 1st September. Apart from some pleasant bars, we had three very good meals in three quite different restaurants.

Saturday: We went to the Sherpa, a Nepalese/Tibetan restaurant (58 Korte Leidsedwarsstraat - 020-623 9495 - While I can't recall exactly what we had at this point, I do know it was delicious and spicy. Similar to Indian cuisine but not precisely the same. The staff are friendly and helpful.

Sunday: We went to our regular, t'Fornuis, a Dutch restaurant (33 Utrechsestraat - 020-626 9139 - Starters were a fish pastry and a goats cheese tart; mains were duck and lamb; desserts were ice cream and creme brulee. The food is always excellent here, we've never had a disappointment in over 10 years. The staff are friendly, cheerful and efficient.

Monday: We decided on the Puri Mas, an Indonesian restaurant (37-41 Lange Leidsedwarsstraat - 020-627 7627 - We've been there before but some years ago. The food was very tasty - we had the Puri Mas rijsttafel, a collection of delicious dishes, including a very good Rendang. The staff are charming and uninstrusive.

Tuesday lunch time: before heading for the airport, we used the Italian restaurant directly across the street (alley) from Puri Mas [can't remember its name]. We both had pizza, an American and a Pepperoni. Really tasty; the salami used on the Pepperoni pizza was delicious.

Friday, 28 August 2009

21st August 2009 - Loch Fyne, Cobham

(01932 586 010 -

Starters: Potted shrimp; Mackerel rillettes; Salmon fish cake.

Mains: Battered haddock, chips and mushy peas x 2; Smoked fish pie

Drinks: Paul had a coke, otherwise tap water.

Cost: About £54, plus tip.

The food was tasty and generally the produce they used was of very good quality. The staff were friendly and helpful and the atmosphere really pleasant.

The one off note was when the Salmon fish cake starter was brought up. The accompanying salad was mainly made u of iceberg lettuce. In itself that would have been disappointing, but it was also about two days beyond being fit for consumption. We called a waiter over and before we could say more than, ‘Excuse me,…’, she had whisked it away with a ‘That won’t do at all!’.

The prompt, firm way in which that was handled redeemed the restaurant in our eyes.

Our rating: A good THREE STARS

Thursday, 6 August 2009

10th May 2009 - The Chalk Lane Hotel, Epsom

(01372 721179 -

Delicious food in a tranquil, unrushed setting.

Starters: Squid in sweet chilli sauce (Lyn); Caramelised chicken wings (Paul); Tartar of Scottish salmon with Le Puy lentils (Chris).

Mains: Forerib of Angus Beef (Lyn); Confit of duck (Paul); Crispy belly pork (Chris).

Summer pudding with vanilla ice cream (Lyn); Trio of caramel puddings (Paul); Strawberry and cherry soup with crème fraiche ice cream (Chris).

Drinks: Glass of Cava Rivas Merlot (Lyn & Chris); Glass of Cava Rivas Cabernet Sauvignon (Paul).

Cost: £105.00, inc service.

Every dish was beautifully prepared, perfectly cooked and very well presented. Even the crockery was just right. The wines and food were delicious. We could find no fult with anything.

Even though the hotel’s exterior is a little unprepossessing, the restaurant is nicely decorated and as well presented as the food.

The service was efficient, very professional and not at all hurried. The woman who appeared to be in charge was very good at anticipating our needs. Lyn was most impressed by the lack of fuss when she asked for a ‘doggy bag’.

Our rating: FIVE STARS - extremely good value for money

We have since paid a return visit for an ‘ad-hoc nosebag’ with Hazel, the 4th Old Horse. Everything was just a excellent - we were not at all disappointed.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

April 2009 - Saigon Chef, Grand Parade, Ewell Road, Surbiton

(020 8399 6789 -

Excellent food and a pleasant atmosphere.

Starters: Vietnamese spring rolls, Vietnamese pancake, Crispy fried monkfish, BBQ spare ribs and Crunchy salad with lotus root.

Mains: Stir-fried chicken with sweet basil, Vietnamese roast pork with honey and herbs, Fried lamb with satay sauce and Special fried rice.

Drinks: Tsing Tao and Tiger beers, Vietnamese tea.

Cost: £60.80 plus service charge.

We enjoyed every mouthful of this meal - even though we did order rather a lot of food. There was a pleasant buzz from the other diners, who also seemed to be having a good time. Certainly, the couple who Paul knew from his CPS days were - they were celebrating an anniversary.

The service was attentive but not intrusive. The staff were very friendly.

Our rating: FIVE STARS - extremely good value for money

Monday, 3 August 2009

January 2009 - The Bali, 5-6 New Parade, London Rd, Dorking

(01306 887860)

A very pleasant, stylish restaurant with good staff.

Starters: Lyn - Prawn Satay; Paul - Mixed Satay; Chris - Won Ton Goreng - plus prawn crackers.

Mains: Kari Ayam (Chicken Curry); Abon Daging (Crispy beef with vermicelli) and Bali Kambing Hajau Kari (a northern Malaysian lamb curry) - plus coconut rice and special fried rice.

Drinks: Singha beers all round.

Cost: £72.00 plus tip.

Actually, I originally ordered the Peanuts and Ikan Bilis Tidbits for my starter, but the waiter came straight back with the sad news that it was no longer available.

With the sole exception of the Won Ton Goreng, the food was all cooked and delicious. The Won Ton were dark, dry and seemingly overdone, with a dry and tasteless filling. - though the dip was nice. The prawns were excellent, tasting of the grill and perfectly cooked. The satay sauce was very good, with plenty of peanut.

This restaurant will certainly be visited for an ad-hoc nosebag at some point.

Our rating: FOUR STARS

Sunday, 2 August 2009

January 2009 - Ask Italian, High Street, Epsom

(01372 740992)

Our first chain restaurant for the Nosebag Club, but not a bad choice.

Mains: Ravioli Burro e Pesce (Lyn); Pizza - Festa di Carne (Paul); Lasagne (Chris) - plus garlic bread.

Desserts: Tiramisú for Lyn; Honeycomb Cheesecake for Paul; Torta di Mele [Apple Pie] for Chris.

Drinks: A glass of house red (Merlot De Gras from Chile for Lyn; Rioja [a Tempranillo] from Crianza for Chris); . A glass of house white (Pinot Grigio for Paul).

Cost: £65.00 plus tip.

The waiter was friendly and efficient (although we did see him spill red wine over a member of another group!) and the atmosphere was relaxed and pleasant.

More importantly, the food was tasty and well presented. The wines were all very good (quite right too - they weren’t cheap). We enjoyed the garlic bread - a pizza base soaked in garlic butter, very tasty. And the desserts were enjoyable too.

Our rating: THREE STARS but at the high end of the rating.

27th November 2008 - Khan’s, Upper High Street, Epsom

(01372 723316 -

We sat down and at once were offered poppadoms and chutneys - both very good.

Starters: Chum Chum Chicken and Samosas.

Mains: Biryani Chicken; Murgh Handi Laziz [chicken in spices and coconut cream with chillies] and Gosht Cholay Lahori.

Drinks: Kingfisher Beer.

Cost: £75.

This restaurant benefits from very tasteful décor, friendly and efficient staff… and intriguing blue lights set into the risers of the stairs up to the toilets.

Unfortunately, the food did not match the pleasant atmosphere and charms of the staff, being ‘OK’ at best - Lyn felt her Biryani was ‘poor and tasteless’.

The chef seems to have managed to cook without the chemical additions favoured by some, but has not found a way of getting the flavour back - places like Le Raj (28 Sep 07 - Le Raj, 211 Fir Tree Road, Epsom Downs) and the Blue Mint (20th March 2008 - Blue Mint, 21 Waterloo Road, Epsom) do this so much better.

Our rating: THREE STARS but, without the atmosphere and staff, probably TWO STARS.

28th August 2008 - Epsom Thai, South Street, Epsom

(01372 724333 -


We stared at the menu for quite a while, wondering where to start…

Starters: Chicken Satay, Tod Mun Pla (fish cakes), Crispy Chicken Wings and Moo Ping (barbecued pork).

Mains: Sweet and Sour Chicken, Garlic Beef, Tamarind Duck and Red Curry with Chicken - plus Coconut Rice, Egg Fried Rice and Plain Fried Noodles.

Desserts: 2 x Lemon Sorbet; 1 x Orange Sorbet; 1 x Banana Pudding.

Drinks: 8 x Singha Beer.

Cost: £83.

The atmosphere felt very like some of the restaurants Paul & I used in Thailand. The service was good but discrete.

The food was excellent. The starters were all good; the chicken wings and pork were delicious.

Similarly, the main courses were all delicious and well-balanced - memories of meals in Thailand… The Garlic Beef worked VERY well, the Red Curry was hot (too hot for Lyn, although she acknowledged the underlying flavour was very good) and moreish (one of the best we‘ve ever had). As for the duck - a wild card that turned up trumps (*groan*) - the bst of four very good dishes.

Both rice dishes were tasty - the coconut rice also satisfyingly sticky. We were glad Lyn suggested ordering the noodles; they were tasty and gave another texture to the meal.

The desserts - sorbets fine, but fairly ordinary; the banana pudding (banana in warm coconut milk) was rather nice.

Our rating: FIVE STARS

18th July 2008 - El Rincón, Tattenham Corner

(0871 426 4191)

After a long look at the menu and some discussion - should we go à la carte or was the fixed menu good enough? We were brave and it was (good enough, that is).

Starters: Paul & Chris both chose the Gambas con Gindilla, Lyn accepted the waiter’s suggestion and had the sardines.

Mains: Paul ordered Pollo Manchego, Chris had duck and Lyn had sea bass with a lobster and crayfish tail sauce.

Desserts: Paul had Banoffee Pie, Lyn had Tiramisú, Chris had a chocolate mille-feuille. (Note - not one traditional Spanish postre!)

Drinks: Paul & Chris drank Mahon beer, Lyn had a half bottle of a very delicious and smooth rioja.

Cost: £81.00, plus service.

We found the atmosphere relaxing and welcoming. Both waiters were friendly and helpful - and responded positively to our bit of Spanish, complimenting Paul on his accent.

The service on an individual basis was not rushed, but the waiters were the only ones for a rather busy restaurant. We wondered if another waiter had called in sick or something.

The prawns were really delicious, the balance of garlic, ginger and chilli marvellous. Sadly, Lyn felt the sardines were slightly overcooked, though still edible.

Paul’s chicken was excellent, the cheese and bacon working well together. My duck was perfectly cooked and came with a delicious fruity sauce. Only Lyn’s lobster and crayfish tail sauce disappointed, lacking in flavour - the sea bass was excellent though.

The desserts were also good.

On the whole an enjoyable meal in very pleasant surroundings.

Our rating: FOUR STARS

20th March 2008 - Blue Mint, 21 Waterloo Road, Epsom

(01372 724167)

We started with a couple of poppadoms each, with some nice chutneys. Even the mint and cucumber raita haD a subtle, spicy back taste.

Starters: Lyn & Chris had crab cakes, Paul had the King Prawn Rolls.

Mains: Roast Duck Delight; Lamb Dansak; Chicken Tikka Biryani - plus pilau rice, onion bhaji and 2 plain naans.

Drinks: Paul & Chris had pints of Cobra, Lyn had a glass of the house red.

As we thought when looking into the restaurant some time ago, the décor is plain, modern and restful. The furniture is stylish and comfortable.

The crab cakes were excellent, as were the prawn rolls. There was a tamarind sauce with one or other starter, but it complimented both.

The duck was not only unusual, but very good. A tasty mix, subtly spicy, and perfectly cooked. The Biryani was so good that Lyn ate all but one or two mouthfuls, later admitting to having overindulged. As for the Dansak - it was superb, probably the best we’ve ever had. The onion bhajis were crisp and tasty.

We were impressed with the lack of grease in all the food. And, as at Le Raj (see post “
28 Sep 07 - Le Raj, 211 Fir Tree Road, Epsom Downs”), the chef clearly does not use colouring agents.

Lyn’s wine was a full bodied, fruity red - so delicious, she had a second glass.

The service was unintrusive and excellent, down to being offered our hot towels individually. And when Lyn mentioned she had enjoyed the finishing orange-flavoured chocolate treats in the hearing of one of the waiters (inadvertently, of course), a further plate of them appeared almost instantly.

Our rating: FIVE STARS

28th February 2008 - Cappadocia, 2 Station Buildings, Kingston

(020 8549 6228 -

Starters: Garlic bread and the meze plate (with humus, ispanak tarator [fresh baby spinach leaves sautéd with garlic mixed with yogurt], patlican sogurme [grilled aubergine pate a hint of garlic mixed with yoghurt], cacik [cucumber dip with yoghurt, garlic, fresh dill, mint & olive oil], among other things).

Mains: Kuzu tandir [braised lamb shoulder], Zencefilli Tavuk [ginger chicken cooked with basil, cream and soya sauce] and Kilic Baligi [grilled swordfish marinated in whit wine, lemon juice, fresh herbs, garlic butter.

Desserts: Baklava for two and Turkish rice pudding.

Drinks: 2 beers and a glass of wine.

Cost: £60.50, plus tip.

Friendly staff. The cooking is done largely in an open area that serves as the take-away counter too. There seemed to be quite a lot of staff for the size of the place.

The starter meze plate gave us a variety of light, fresh tasting dishes, served with pieces of garlic bread - very good.

The lamb was succulent and tasty, obviously braised for several hours. The chicken was delicious, the basil coming through delicately after the richness of the sauce and the ginger making itself known from time to time. The swordfish was also fresh and tasty, although Lyn found the garlic in the accompanying spinach somewhat too much.

The desserts were also very good. The baklava crisp, buttery, nutty and sweet; the rice pudding creamy with a taste of vanilla. However, Lyn was disappointed that the speciality ice creams were just chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.

The atmosphere was friendly with a lively buzz. About halfway through our main courses, the staff put on some Turkish music and a belly dancer appeared. She was lovely and skilful, and wisely did not ask any of us to dance, though a few others did get up with her. After 5 or 6 tracks, some involving balancing a sword on her ‘lady bumps’, she slipped away and the lively music turned more sedate.

All in all, a delicious meal in pleasant and stylish surroundings, with good service.

Our rating: FOUR STARS

6th February 2008 - Lime Bar, 11-13 Upper High Street, Epsom

(0871 0758940)

Here we couldn't resist having three courses.

Starters: Mango and duck spring rolls (for 2); Jamdown Jerk Chicken with Caesar Salad.

Main: Tilapia; Coconut & Pimiento Chicken with Pumpkin Seed Salad; Jamdown Jerk Chicken with rice and beans.
Desserts: Steamed Lime, Ginger and Sultana Pudding; Warm chocolate fondant.
Cost: £69.65 plus service

We were impressed from the start. The decor is stylish but simple. The welcome from the staff was warm. (Also Lyn already loves the place!)

With all courses, the tastes were fresh, elegantly combined and adventurous. The jerk chicken had a spicy warmth but was not overpowering; the Coconut & Pimiento Chicken came with various extras (plantain, spinach and sweet-potato cake) that combined to make a dish we all found delicious.

While both desserts were delightful, the steamed pudding was most impressive. A delicious balance of subtle flavours with plenty of succulent sultanas in a light sponge.

In all a wonderful meal in delightful surroundings, with a very good selection of 'dinner jazz' playing in the background. Our waitress was attentive, friendly and kind - so much so that we gave her generous tip.

Our rating: FIVE STARS - we didn't feel able to fault a thing.

Friday, 31 July 2009

November 2007 - Sherpa Kitchen, High Street, Esher

(01372 470777)

This time we had starters rather than desserts

Starters: Tekero Squid (tempura); a salmon dish whose name we can't remember; Duyalu (a potato cake with lentils)

Main: Gawlar Chicken; Pork Masu; Mayalu Lamb; with rice, plain naan and Gulyo Roti (like a Peshwari naan)

Drinks: House red; Singha beer

Cost: £60.00, inc service

The squid was well-cooked and tasty, the salmon delicate and fresh, with the potato cakes being earthy and satisfying. Subtle but deep flavouring.

Similarly, the main courses were well-balanced with a delicious depth of flavour. Although we chose dishes in the 'one chilli' range, Lyn and Chris in particular still found the heat more than enough.

The Gulyo Roti and naan were very good versions of their kind.

Altogether, a delicious meal in charming surroundings, somewhat reminiscent of a long house with oriental touches liek Buddha heads.

Our rating: FOUR STARS - good value for money

25th October 2007 - Simply Greek, Fir Tree Rd, Epsom Downs

Tel - 01737 373776

We opted for the meze, as a way of gauging the mettle of the kitchen.

Starters: Olives, houmous, tzatziki, taramosalata, loukanika (sausage), lounza (slices of pork loin) and fried haloumi with pitta bread

Main: Keftedes (lamb meatballs), chicken kebab, kleftiko, stifado, Greek salad and rice

Desserts: Galaktoboureko, ice cream

Drinks: A pleasant house red for Lyn, Mythos beer for Paul and me.

Cost: £71.50 plus service

Nice decor - interesting paintings of beach scenes. Background music - very Greek but relaxing.

The starters, while standard meze fare, were good of their kind - and they all went. I enjoyed the marinated olives.

All the main courses were vert tasty, although Lyn found the cloves in the stifado overpowering. The kleftiko was a generous two lamb shanks of melt in the mouth meat every bit as good as Mr Roberts' lamb in Dolgellau. The Greek Salad was good and fresh. Paul & I enjoyed the galaktoboureko (long a favourite from our visits to Crete) and half of Lyn's ice ceam. The ice cream was smooth and tasty - just a bit too much for her after all that food.

The service started well; the waiter was helpful and friendly. But it became a bit lax later, leaving us waiting for 10+ minutes to orderour desserts and there was some trouble figuring out our bill.

Our rating: FOUR STARS

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

28 Sep 07 - Le Raj, 211 Fir Tree Road, Epsom Downs

This was our first official 'Nosebag'. Just the three of us; Chris, Paul and Lyn.

We had no starters.

Our main courses were:-
  • Murg-e-Muntazan (chicken cooked with medium spices, cardamom, fenugreek, yoghurt and parsley)
  • Murg Tikka Masalla
  • Murg-e-Jafrany (chicken with onion seeds, cumin seeds and honey)
  • With saffron pilau, a plain nan and a Nairol nan (coconut, sultana and honey)

For dessert:

  • Gulapjam (a Gudjarati dessert - milk dumplings in honey)
  • Sorbet (raspberry and mango)
  • Kulfi (pistachio)

We drank - 2 halves of lager and a bottle of Bangla beer.

Total cost: £74.00 plus service

Note: The chefs at Le Raj make a point of not using the normal food colourings that many Indian restaurants use to make their dishes look 'appetising' to their customers.

All three of us agreed that this set a formidable standard for future outings. Each dish was delicious. The Tikka Masalla was considered by us all to be the best version of the dish we had ever tasted. The Muntazan, however, was the outstanding dish of this selection; a subtle blend of spices and yoghurt that set the taste buds tingling happily.

Even the popadums were far fresher and crisper than is usual, with an excellent selection of chutneys. The nan were light, crisp and delicious. The deserts were fine; the sorbets were especially wonderful, with the raspberry being extremely fruity and the mango containing luscious fruit. The Gulapjam reminded me of a soft treacle pudding. The kulfi was a good version of its kind.

The service was discrete and efficient.

Our Rating: FIVE STARS

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Start up post - 28 July 2009

Hi anyone who is reading this - my, but life must be dull!

My intention - and I'm full of good ones - is to post past Old Horses' Dining Club reviews first, then add the more up to date ones. I may even manage to get them up to date before our next foray.

So... I bet you're wondering 'What the f*** is the Old Horses' Dining Club and anyway who are the Old Horses?' Don't blame you, but it's simple really.

The Old Horses' Dining Club is a group of friends, mostly based in Espom, Surrey, who from time to time get together at a reasonably local restaurant for a good meal and then rate it according to our own criteria.

The Old Horses are Chris (that's me), Paul (my partner of almost 25 years), Lyn (our next door neighbour) and Hazel, a friend who pops by occasionally. We also, once in a blue moon, have a guest Old Horse.

Why Old Horse? A long and rather silly story, which I may go into one day.

None of us are gourmets, we just like a decent meal and are prepared to eat our way through lots of restaurants to find it!

Watch this space.