Having grown up in Surrey, a trip back home last weekend couldn’t be complete without taking in the sights and flavours of times past! One of the few, if not the only, places that is quite well known in Surrey is Box Hill after it provided the backdrop to some of the 2012 Olympic cycling events. Just over the road from here is (in my opinion) a more impressive sight: Denbies.
Denbies is a wine estate set on a magnificent set of southern facing hills shaped in a very similar manner to those in the champagne region of France. As such, it produces some rather lovely wines.
For this reason it is easy enough to end up taking a tour of the wine production and forget about stopping in for lunch or dinner to enjoy the surroundings from the Gallery Restaurant. On the occasion of my visit it was the wines that were second place to the food and views as we sat down for lunch with Charlotte’s family.
Heading up to the gallery by lift you get a sense that you are going up to survey the lands around you and the view when you arrive at the restaurant is simply magnificent. I would suggest that the view alone made the visit worthwhile. Looking out onto the Surrey Hills and seeing the fabulous sight of Britain’s largest vineyard stretching out all around you is certainly a spectacular moment.
While I certainly could have spent a long time looking out at the view, there was of course the small matter of the food to contend with. After ordering, we were brought some bread, featuring some lovely options including a rosemary roll that Charlotte, a true bread fan, thoroughly enjoyed!
Shortly after this, our starters arrived (along with a beautiful bottle of sparkling wine produced by Denbies) and we all got stuck in. My dish was a lovely escabeche of Cornish mackerel that had a nice balance and was not overly acidic in taste. The fish tasted light and fresh and the pickled mussels were a nice flavour and a new taste for me!
Charlotte enjoyed a sweetcorn and tiger prawn soup that she says was creamy and satisfying with a delicate flavour.
A bottle of Flint Hill white wine ordered, we sat back and waited for our mains to arrive as we all discussed how nice the starters had been and enjoyed watching a plethora of cyclists pass by in the distance.
Shortly after, the mains did arrive and they did not disappoint. I had opted for the braised heel of beef that came with confit new potatoes as well as a range of other vegetables. My beef was soft and probably could have been eaten with a spoon. The vegetables were also lovely and buttery but my one minor complaint would be that I could have done with a gravy boat on the side to add a touch more gravy to the dish. That aside it was fantastic!
Charlotte opted for a trio of pork dish that she thought was lovely. The crackling was delightful and the different parts of the pork were cooked as they should be, meaning that the eating of the dish was a true gourmet experience.
Finally, unusually for us, we managed to find room for pudding! I opted for a Sussex cheese board, which was a nice way to end the meal. It would have been nice had the waiter told me which cheese was which when they were presented but overall the biscuits, chutney and cheese were extremely enjoyable.
Charlotte decided to go for the pistachio cake which may have been a wiser move as it looked absolutely beautiful. The cake really delivered a punch of flavour and was not so heavy as to leave you feeling weighed down after the meal! I should know as I was allowed a small slice (reluctantly from Charlotte)!
Overall, I went to Denbies a little unsure of what to expect and came away thoroughly impressed. The meal was good, the views fantastic and the wine delightful. It should also be added that the wine list, while mainly made up of their own options, also includes a few other choices from elsewhere. For those of you who are looking to save a little money you are also able to use a gourmet card on a Saturday which is a nice little bonus.
Finally, for those of you like myself arriving from the north, you can actually book to stay at Denbies and use it as a base to explore the Surrey Hills, making it a bit of an easier destination to explore.
Categories: Restaurant reviews