Moka Cafe

We found ourselves in the Bentalls Centre at lunch time and decided to try Moka Cafe. We hadn’t intended on lunching. It was supposed to be a quick run to Kingston after school drop-off. That was before we went to TKMaxx, where time moves at a different pace.

Moka is a small Surrey chain found in shopping centres that serves light Italian food, paninis, salads and more, using fresh ingedients. It’s located on the Top floor, at the opposite end from the Bentalls shop.

Moka Caffe Bentalls Centre

“Inside” is chic Italian, there’s also a “terrace” in the mall hall. Initially we sat down inside but decided to move to the terrace to enjoy the sunshie coming in through the skylights.

We were dying of thirst from our shopping marathon. Alas, no server came. We waited, parched. There was no waitstaff in sight (we went looking.) Marie really suffered, as she was facing the Zest Juice Bar, refreshment was so close.

Some friends of ours happened by on their way out of Waterstones. They came over to us and we stood and chatted, which finally got the attention of the waiter (are we that loud?) We told him we needed water asap, then resumed our wait. We waited some more, despite telling our waiter about our urgent need for water. Finally water came, hoorah! It didn’t last long. When he brought our food we asked for more water because we were that thirsty. We finished our meals but the water never arrived.

Fingers crossed this was a one-off and that the service here is normally much better.

Moka Caffe interior

Ann opted for the hot panini with Mozzarella, farmhouse bacon, spinach & mayo £6.20. Except they happily substituted regular tomatoes instead of sundried ones. Unfortunately the bacon was limp which really detracted from the sandwich.

Moka Caffe bacon, brie tomato panini

Marie went for a regular sandwich with Grilled chicen, avocado, spinach & mayo £5.70
The bread was incredibly delicious. Lots of spinach, not just the token piece to make you feel like you’re getting one of your five a day. The avocado was thick cut and perfectly ripe. They were overly generous with the mayo, a bit less and this would have been the perfect sandwich. It was still very, very good though.

Moka Caffe cicken and spinach sandwich

If you’re not in the mood for sushi, there’s not much choice of places to eat in the Bentalls Centre. Moka is the Bentalls place for freshly prepared food.

Moka also has locations in Wimbledon, Guildford and Epsom.

Unit S10a, The Bentall Centre, Wood Street, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey, KT1 1TP
www.cafemoka.co.uk
Bentalls car park

Henry’s Kitchen

Henry’s Kitchen has been on our radar since it opened in June. The real Henry VIII’s kitchens are our favourite bit of Hampton Court Palace and we were keen to see a modern incarnation.

It’s located on a pretty street in Hampton Court filled with independent shops and cafes, the sort of place that’s perfect for a lazy weekend. It’s also an ideal place to eat after visiting Hampton Court Palace.

Henry's Kitchen exterior

Henry’s Kitchen proudly displays its membership in The Sustainable Restaurant Organisation (thesra.org.) It uses all 14 areas set out by the SRA and the result is a restaurant that’s sustainable both environmentally and socially.

Some examples: Local food suppliers are used as much as possible. Fish is from sustainable fisheries. Table tops and wall claddings are reclaimed materials that were sourced locally. Equipment is energy efficient. Toilets flush with rainwater. Lightbulbs are LEDs. Menus are on recycled paper and printing is locally sourced. There’s fair treatment of staff. And certain menu items prompt a 50p donation to the Princess Alice Hospice (you guessed it, a local charity.)

And that’s not an exhaustive list!

Henry's Kitchen bar counter

The interior reflects its green credentials. It’s an understated, modern urban décor. Simple, uncluttered and nicely accented with flowers, fresh produce and baked goodies.

There’re also tables and chairs on the pavement in front, from where you can sit and admire the chimneys of Hampton Court Palace that’s just over the the bridge.

Henry's Kitchen interior

It’s always so disappointing when a restaurant has a great concept but is let down by the food. We’re please to report that definitely isn’t the case at Henry’s Kitchen – the food is delish!

We started with Hummus, guacamole & aubergine cavier dips with toasted bread £4.95. All were yummy, we especially loved the guacamole.

Henry's Kitchen dips

Lynn had the Chicken & chorizo fajita with guacamole, salsa and flour tortilla £13.95. It was beautifully presented with all the trimmings. The Spanish chorizo (as opposed to the Mexican version) was an interesting and excellent addition to the traditional fajitas.

Henry's Kitchen chicken and chorizo fajitas

Marie, in the mood for a salad, opted for the Grilled fresh salmon, oranges, grapefruit & mixed leaves £11.95. The fish was perfectly cooked and the salad full of really nice flavours. The citrus fruit made it very refreshing, yet it was filling.

Henry's Kitchen salmon salad with citrus fruit

They serve a handful of craft beers Meantime Brewery in Greenwich, which we’re guessing is the nearest brewery to the restaurant. It’s the second times in as many weeks we’ve come across this exciting – and delicious – new trend. Ann could no longer resist the temptation to try one. Chocolate Porter £4.25 – chocolate and beer in one glass, heaven!

To compliment the beer, she had the Rack of tender BBQ baby back ribs, coleslaw & chips £13.95. They were fantastic, the bbq sauce delicious and the chips were great. The all important bbq sauce was spot on. Mmm.

Henry's Kitchen bbq ribs

We couldn’t resist trying the desserts. Lynn & Marie decided to share a Coffee & Walnut – a soft coffee sponge topped and filled with coffee fudge icing and finished with pieces of walnut. Using fair trade coffee £4.85. It was full of flavour and the lime ‘dots’ were a lovely tasting addition to the cake.

Henry's Kitchen coffee and walnut cake

Ann wasn’t interested in sharing. She wanted a dessert all to herself. The Eton Mess – Whipped cream and mascarpone with meringue pieces topped with fresh strawberries and fruit of forest compote £5.45. When it was served she went very quiet. We didn’t hear another peep out of her until her plate was practically licked clean. In other words, she liked it a lot.

Henry's Kitchen eton mess

Henry’s Kitchen seems to have it all, great location, food, decor plus a postive ethos. We can’t wait to go back!

Bridge road, Hampton Court, East Molesey, KT8 9HA
www.henrykitchen.co.uk
Street parking or use overpriced car park at the train station.

We were guests of Henry’s Kitchen but this is no way biased our review.

The Inn at Maybury

It’s not every day you go to a pub that is mentioned in a novel. Being Woking, it’s no surprise that novel is War of the Worlds. When fleeing from the Martians, the narrator describes passing the “Maybury Inn with its swinging sign.”

Fortunately our lunch had considerably less drama.

The Inn At Maybury exterior

The Inn at Maybury is located in Woking on a wedge shaped peninsula formed by the roads Old Woking Road and Maybury Hill.

There are two outdoor seating areas, one along Maybury Hill and the other at the ‘tip of the peninsula.’

The Inn At Maybury al fresco area

All thoughts of the traffic disappears once inside.

The decor is simple and comfortable. There are three indoor seating areas, each with a slightly different vibe. Our favourite is the ‘blue room,’ which is open to the kitchen.

The bar area is small, we’d leave the Maybury for dining.

The Inn At Maybury inteiror

Service is relaxed. At some points we did wonder if it was a tidge too relaxed but overall it is good.

The menu is pretty comprehensive. You have to hunt through it to find the salads as they are mixed in with the regular dishes.

The prices indicate the Maybury is a gastropub.

DSC_3630

Ann went for a sandwich, the buffalo mozzarella, avocado & beef tomato + chicken £9.45.
The sandwich was good, the ingredients fresh and the chicken nicely cooked. It was very filling. She couldn’t finish her chips even though they were really yummy – not too fat, not too skinny and with the skin on for extra taste & nutrients.

The Inn At Maybury chicken avocado tomato sandwich

Marie, wanting a salad, had the sticky crispy duch salad, mooli, cucumber & carrot £7.95. It was tasty but slightly dissappointing as it wasn’t large enough for lunch, she clearly needed the larger size. There was lots of duck but not enough veg. Fortunately Ann didn’t finish her chips so Marie gobbled them up.

PS, mooli is a giant Asian radish.

The Inn At Maybury duck salad

We’ve been to The Inn at Maybury a few times, for both lunch and dinner and have always had nice experiences. It’s a pleasurable pub in an area otherwise devoid of eateries.

The Inn at Maybury, Maybury Hill, Woking, Surrey, GU22 8AB
www.themayburyinn.co.uk
Car park
Dogs welcome on the patio and in bar area

Inn at Maybury on Urbanspoon

Craft & Grill

The school holidays are over, all the ladies are back from holiday and ready to lunch! Just when Ann thought she left the food of her homeland on holiday, we headed off for some American chow.

It’s always exciting when a London trend comes to Surrey. Doubly exciting when it’s two London trends in one. Thanks to Craft & Grill, we now have our own spot for craft beer and American smokehouse & grill food. Yay.

Craft & Grill exterior

You may or may not remember The Noble Vine on the Walton-on-Thames high street. You know, that place you always walked past but have never really been in. It was revamped in August and emerged as Craft & Grill and we were excited to make it our first spot of the new school year’s lunches.

Gone is the noughties wine bar. Craft & Grill is now an up to date eclectic space serving coffee, brunch, lunch & dinner as well as drinks.

Craft & Grill interior

There’s plenty of seating as it’s goes quite far back.

The atmosphere is very chilled out. Servers are friendly and there’s no pressure to drink or eat, one or the other will do. We thought the food was quite good value for money.

Craft & Grill inside

Craft & Grill serves loads of craft beers from all over the world. There’s 30 bottled beers plus six on draught that regularly change (in addition to your regular pub selection.)

What’s craft beer you ask? It’s beer from independently owned microbreweries. Bars featuring craft beers have grown in popularity in North America over the past decade. Now there’s a thriving craft beer pub scene in London. Here, read more

Craft & Grill bar

Most fun of all, the bottled beer is located in a fridge beside the bar. Take your time choosing a beer & glass then take it to the bar for them to open for you.

Craft & Grill beer fridge

If you’re unfamiliar with smoked meat, a smoker unit set to a low temperature that generates smoke at the bottom (usually with wood chips) that rises up to flavour the meat. The process takes ages and results in a piece of meat that is tender and smokey.

Marie & Ann tried a sampler during the opening night (poor Lynn was busy climbing Snowden.) C&G Ultimate Sharing Combo The Full Works! Pulled Beef Chilli & Chips, Pulled Pork Slider, Steak Slider, One of each Wing, One of each Rib & ¼ of Buffalo Chicken Served with Dips & House Salad £24. Much of this was perfect smoked bbq food. The pulled pork slider was a stand out yummy, as was the chicken, the wings, the baby ribs… We thought we should include it here.

Craft & Grill

For our lunch we decided to try dishes that weren’t on the sampler.

Ann had theCobb Salad Chicken, Smoked Bacon, Boiled Egg, Lettuce, Tomato, Cucumber, Avocado, Chives, Blue Cheese Dressing £9 It was full of all sorts of goodies. They were generous with the dressing, dieters will want to ask for it on the side.

Craft & Grill Cobb salad

Marie went for the 5 Bean Chilli Plain Rice, Tortillas & Sour Cream £8. It was both hot and sweet, at first bite she was worried it was going to be too hot but strangely the heat didn’t intensify with subsequent bites and it went down quite nicely. The tortilla chips were nice and light, the way tortilla chips are meant to be.

Craft & Grill 5 bean chilli

Lynn, after much deliberation, opted for the Buffalo BBQ 1/2 Chicken Served with Fries Anyhow, Corn & House BBQ Sauce £11. This was the stand out delicious dish of our lunch. The bbq sauce was tasty and the chicken juicy plus the sweet fries were nicer than regular chips.

Craft & Grill BBQ Chicken

We couldn’t resist some sides – Sweet Fries £3 and Onion rings £3. It’s always such a treat to get sweet potato fries (and a healthier option, we keep telling ourselves.) The onions rings were top notch and we fought over the last one.

Craft & Grill sweet friesCraft & Grill onion rings

The dessert menu was too tempting for us, with the sorts of things we love.

Ann can never resist a banoffee, so obviously had the Banoffee Tart Speculoos biscuit base topped with melting caramel, fresh bananas, whipped cream & flake 99 £4.50

Craft & Grill banofee pie

Lynn and Marie were both lured in by the Warm Cherry Pie Served with hot custard £4.50. One without custard.

Craft & Grill cherry pie with custardCraft & Grill cherry pie

Craft & Grill is positioning itself as competition for the chain spots around the corner. It’s always nice to see independents that are able to take on the chains in both product and price. We wish Craft & Grill best of luck in their new endeavour.

29-31 High Street, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, KT12 1DG
craftandgrill-walton.com
Nearest car park is The Heart

We were invited by Craft & Grill but this is no way biased our review.

The Crown & Cushion

I’ve decided I want to find Surrey’s oldest pub. The Crown & Cushion in Minley seems like a good candidate. At least a good place to start my search, with a family Sunday lunch.

Crown & Cushion front

The pub was built in 1512 and became an alehouse is 1596.

Crown & Cushion pub from 1512

As you would expect, there’s low ceilings, beams, open fires and, of course, rumours of ghosts. It’s teensy and very cute. A more modern atribute, there’s free wifi .

Crown & Cushion bar area

Rambling, laid back outdoor seating is on both ‘sides’ of the pub. The parking lot side is stuffed with flowers, and the backside overlooks a cricket green. There is a bit of noise, as the pub is on a busy road, but it’s not too bad.

Crown & Cushion al fresco dining area

Meade Hall located right beside the main pub and is quite cool. It’s an amalgamation of two 16th century barns – including timbers from the Spanish Armada. It is a huge medieval banquet hall and is largely used for events. I think it would be a perfect venue for a party. It’s old, it’s dim and there’s loads of flickering candles. I wish we had been there the previoius Sunday.

On Sundays Meade Hall is open to regular diners. Meade Hall will also be open to regular diners daily during some renovation work in the main building this autumn.

Crown & Cushion Meade Hall entrance

The atmosphere in Meade Hall is perfect for a rainy day or winter. We happened to be there the day the weather changed. It was beautiful outside, at long last. Yet through one of those weird reasons of momentum we ate inside, in the dark Meade Hall. Don’t get me wrong, we liked it, it’s just that after weeks of bad weather, we really should have sat outside.

Crown & Cushion Meade Hall interior

It was busy went we went, outside was bustling and both buildings had plenty of full tables, including a party of 14. As a result there was a bit of a wait for our food, which was understandable but it’s good policy to inform people of the time when the order is placed.

S went for the roast topside of beef, Yorkshire puding, roast potatoes & parsnips, homemade gravy, horseradish sauce served with fresh vegetables £12.95. That’s a familiar looking plate. It was a solid roast and as a nice touch, this one came with a cauliflower cheese (in the little white pot.)

Crown & Cushion Sunday roast

My daughters also went for the roast beef, kid sized £6.50. They reported that it was very good, and finished the plate clean.

Crown & Cushion Sunday children's roast

I had the roasted vegetables &goat’s cheese salad with honey & walnuts £10.95. When it initially came there weren’t a whole lot of roasted vegetables in it, but the friendly server quickly got me a little dish of them. It was tasty, the honey and cheese went well together.

Crown & Cushion goat cheese salad

The Crown and Cushion has lots of charm, as you would expect from a 502 year old building that’s been a pub 420 years. Now, to find out if there are pubs in Surrey that are even older…

The Crown and Cushion is a part of a small Surrey chain of pubs, Baron Pubs. They have four other pubs, in Thorpe, Leatherhead, Horsell and Warlingham.

The Crown and Cushion, Minley Road, Minley, Blackwater, Surrey, GU17 9UA
http://www.baronspubs.com/crownandcushion/
Car park
Dogs welcome on the patio

Five Guys Kingston Rotunda

A weekend family movie & bowling outing meant the chance to try out Five Guys in the Kingston-Upon-Thames Rotunda.

Five Guys exploded onto the US burger scene in the past decade. It started in Virginia and came to the UK in the summer of 2013.

I’d never been to a Five Guys before. I’d heard the hype but, as a Torontonian, was skeptical about an American burger bar.

Five Guys Kingston entrance

Five Guys boasts that nothing it uses has ever been frozen and there are no freezers on site. It uses the best quality, freshest ingredients and each meal is freshly made to order. All burgers are well done, but aside from that you can have it any way you like.

Place your order on the left, move across and wait while it’s made to order, then collect it on the right.

Five Guys Kingston interior counter

The menu is simple: Burgers, hot dogs and fries. A regular burger comes with two patties. A ‘little’ burger comes with one patty. You can also have a cheeseburger or a bacon burger For vegetarians there’s a burger without the meat (‘veggie sandwich’) or a cheese burger without the meat (‘grilled cheese.’) You choose what you’d like on it from a list of 16 toppings.

Unfortunately I was too busy taking photos when all this was explained, so when I placed my order I rattled off some standard burger toppings and missed out on the exciting options like onions and jalapenos.

You can watch them make your meal.

Five Guys Kingston kitchen

There are boxes of free peanuts in the shell to munch on while you wait for your order.

If you don’t want to wait for it to be made, you can order online before visiting, so that it’s waiting for you at your preferred collection time.

We waited about 15 minutes for our order.

Five Guys Kingston free peanuts

I actually quite liked the decor. A wall of windows opens it up, chunky light coloured wood is used for seating, which is a mixture of roomy booths, tables & chairs and tall tables & stools. Lighting is open with an industrial feel.

The walls are plastered with quotes of adoration (They’re clearly not ashamed of tooting their own horn.) Reading them while I was waiting for my order really upped the ante, and I wondered how they were ever going to live up to the bar they were setting for themselves.

While we waited, my children got their drinks from the space aged coke dispenser. It was the highlight of their visit, their little minds taking ages to decide which of the 100 flavours to choose. They settled on vanilla coke and cherry coke.

Five Guys Kingston interior seating

Our number was called out and we were handed a big brown paper bag.

Inside, our burgers were neatly wrapped and the cups of fries were all over the bottom.

My Husband, S, went for the regular burger £6.75. He was smart enough to look at the list of toppings and had his with, amongst other things, raw onions. Raw onions on a burger automatically make a burger good.

Five Guys Kingston regular burger

I had a little burger £4.75, which wasn’t all that little. Mmm, the pleasing taste of charred meat filled my mouth with joy.

The buns are spongey sesame see buns. It’s hard not to love a sesame seed bun. This one was no exception, dense with bready goodness it was a perfect density for holding everything inside.

Overall I was impressed, surprisingly. This was one of the best burgers I’ve had, well, since my last trip to Burger Shack in Toronto. If only I’d had raw onion!

Five Guys Kingston little burger

To accompany our burgers, we had small fries £2.75, both a ‘Five Guys style’ and a ‘cajun style.’

Now these are my kind of fries, skin on, not chunky or skinny and well done. They’re also fried in peanut oil, which may or may not make them taste better, I’m not sure.

Though we had two smalls between the four of us there were still lots leftover. Looking at the number in the bag, I’m not sure they all would have fit into the two cups they came in. It seemed like the fry guys just dumped loads straight into the bag.

We weren’t that keen on the cajun, as the flavouring overpowered the taste of the fry and it all got a bit much after a few of them. They were okay but the ‘Five Guys style’ were great.

Five Guys Kingston regular chips and cajun chips

Despite my skepticism, Five Guys surpassed my expectations. As far as fast food joints go, this is about the best I can think of in the area. The only drawback is the price, which isn’t outlandish but is on the upper line of what I want to pay for fast food.

Five Guys is sure to fulfil your a burger fix and, I have on good authority, is amazing when hungover.

Five Guys also has another Surrey location in Guildford.

The Rotunda, Clarence St, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey KT1 1QJ
www.fiveguys.co.uk
Nearest carpark is the Bentall Centre.

The Plough Effingham

A sunny Saturday and my family and I set out to yet another pub for an afternoon meal. This time we visited The Plough in Effingham, which is located on a quiet lane in the Surrey Hills countryside.

The Plough Effingham exterior

The pub was refurbished in 2013. Inside is homely and there’s an instant feeling comfort when you enter. Friendly staff make you feel welcomed and are not overbearing.

The Plough Effingham interior

Large windows let in lots of light. There’s no background music. Everything is spotlessly clean – no signs of grim. There’s simply nothing offending about this pub.

There’s a corner filled with books & board games. We placed ourselves at it and decided on a game of Scrabble.

The Plough Effingham interior bar

The Plough offers two choices for al fresco dining. In front there are several tables & chairs with backs. In back there’s a pretty garden with flowers and fruit trees and spaciously set picnic tables (no backs.)

The Plough Effingham garden

Fresh, home made food is what The Plough prides itself on. The menu changes monthly to offer seasonal products. There’s also daily specials for both mains and puddings.

Both my husband and I zeroed in on the same sandwich, Chicken, roast red pepper & smoked paprika mayonnaise £6.45. He had his on Ciabatta.

The Plough Effingham ciabatta sandwich

I had mine on fresh brown bread. It was delicious. As a tomato hater it’s so nice to get veg I like on a sandwich. I felt it the perfect size, but his wasn’t quite enough to fill him.

The Plough Effingham sandwich

Daughter #2 had the kid’s Bangers & mash £6.95 The gravy boat nearly made her squeal with delight. She especially loved pouring the gravy out the cow’s mouth, while making sounds that weren’t very appetising.

My husband helped her finish the sausages and was very impressed with them, they had beautiful texture and taste.

The Plough Effingham sausage and mash

Daughter #1, having helped herself to lunch at home without asking, only had a Side of Chips £2.95.

The Plough Effingham chips

We finished our meals but not our Scrabble game – a perfect excuse to order dessert! Plus we were quite content and didn’t want to leave The Plough.

We decided on three desserts, with an extra plate. The idea was for everyone to sample a bit of each.

First was the Bread and butter pudding with vanilla ice cream £5.65. This is The Plough’s most popular dessert and with good reason. I don’t generally like bread & butter pudding but this one really was yummy.

The Plough Effingham bread and butter pudding

Next, my weakness, Sticky toffee pudding, ice cream and toffee sauce £5.65. I was hesitant at the pie shape rather than the standard mess in a bowl, but this pudding was divine. Definitely dessert perfection.

The Plough Effingham sticky toffee pudding

The third choice was the Chocolate cookie & mousse stack with caramel sauce £5.65. I didn’t actually manage to try any of it (I was too busy stuffing my face with the sticky toffee pudding so I didn’t have to give as much away – is that so wrong?) The report was this dessert was also yummy, though not as good as the Bread & Butter pudding.

The Plough Effingham cookie mouse dessert

At long last we had to drag ourselves away from The Plough. The food here was wonderful and good value. The ambiance so comfortable we didn’t want to leave. It was the perfect place for our family meal.

PS/ my husband won the Scrabble, but only because I keep setting him up for the triples in order to selflessly open the board.

Orestan Lane, Effingham, Surrey, KT24 5SW
theplougheffingham.co.uk
Large car park.
Dogs welcome in the garden.