Naturally Chinese Restaurant

Intrigued by Naturally Chinese Restaurant’s boasts of healthy Chinese food, my husband and our two kids visited for my second birthday dinner (I know, right).

Far beyond claims of no MSG, Naturally Chinese in Surbiton, set menus have been put together with the aid of nutritionists for feel good, detox and natural balance. There’s a huge number of vegetarian dishes as well as a large gluten free menu.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant exterior

Inside is huge. The back corner (pictured) is the most charming section of the restaurant. That big circular table in the corner under the huge light well is the prized place you want to sit, unfortunately our server wouldn’t let me sit there.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant interior

The menu is large and enticing, a mix of some standards and some more interesting sounding dishes. I would have liked more direction from our server in the way of recommendations but eventually we narrowed down our selections.

To start, Jman and daughter 1 shared the tasting platter with raw mixed vegetable salad, marinated chicken satay skewers, spare ribs in capital sauce, crispy prawn rolls, shredded chicken smoked with beechwood £17.80. I, of course, helped them eat it. One taste of the smoked chicken and it was impossible to resist going back for more.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant tasting platter

For starters, daughter two and I shared the Steamed dim sum platter crystal prawn dumplings, prawn and chive dumplings, spicy mixed vegetable dumplings, salmon dumplings with grounded peppercorns £11.20 (prepared on site). They were lovely and light with no shortage of flavour.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant steamed dim sum platter

In typical Chinese fashion, we shared several dishes for the main course.

I chose Chicken with shredded sweet peppers, spring onions and fresh chilli in satay sauce £7.90 This was absolutely delicious, the chicken was tender and moist and the flavours were great.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant chicken with shredded peppers in satay sauce

Jman chose a more traditional Crispy shredded beef £8.10. It might not have fit with my healthy Chinese restaurant choice but it sure was tasty.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant crispy shredded beef

Wanting vegetables for my family, I ordered Pak choy £6.40 stir fried in fresh garlic flakes. I was the only one that ate any. I love love pak choy and that’s exactly what it was.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant pak choy in garlic sauce

Lastly we had an order of Special fried rice £6.60 peass, shrimps and roast pork and chicken. Yep, very nice special fried rice with good quality ingredients.

Naturally Chinese Restaurant special fried rice

They did have some interesting sounding desserts but a birthday cake was waiting for me at home.

Overall I enjoyed the Natural Chinese Restaurant and would like to return for Dim Sum (they even run Dim Sum classes, if you want to make your own). It was definitely a cut above your bog standard Chinese.

59-63 Brighton Road, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 5LR
Street parking

Riverside Restaurant

I love the view across the Thames from East Molesey, forget the beautiful bridge or the palace in the background, it’s the boats and the Cartlon Mitre building with the grand semi circle of windows jutting out over the Thames I adore. I’ve often wondered what it’s like on the other side of those windows and now I was about to find out.

Riverside Restaurant from across Thames

The Riverside Restaurant in the Carlton Mitre opposite Hampton Court Palace has a new chef and all new menu. I was excited to visit the restaurant for my birthday. The entrance is to the left of the main hotel entrance.

Riverside Restaurant entrance

We sat in the big circular room overhanging the river, it’s a room rich in wood and cosy lighting, plus one of the biggest rot iron chandeliers I’ve ever seen. A roaring fire and light music completes the atmosphere and make it a perfect setting for a grey winter’s ay.

Riverside Carlton Mitre interior

Outside a patio is tucked between the building, the hotel and the Thames. You could practically dip your toes in the water while you ate. This is one of the best riverside al fresco dining areas around, shame my visit was in November.

Riverside Carlton Mitre al fresco dining on Thames at Hampton Court Bridge

Downstairs is a brasserie with it’s own riverside patio if you are looking for more casual dining.

The restaurant also serves full afternoon tea, complete with divine homemade macaroons.

Riverside Restaurant macaroons

Service is friendly and sophisticated. The menu is modern English with a few twists. There’s lots of fish options and any dietary needs are catered for.

To begin we had Marinate olives with homemade bread, balsamic & aged olive oil £6.00. Our selection was (left to right) soda, Guinness and sun-dried tomato. One bite and we knew we were in trouble. The bread was outrageously good. Forget leaving room for more courses, we couldn’t stop eating it. The Guinness was my favourite, all malty goodness.

Riverside Carlton Mitre home made bread and olives

For starters, J man opted for the Soup of the day £5.95, which was Celeriac. He really enjoyed the soup once, it had a nice texture and flavour. Again was unable to resist eating the homemade bread.

Riverside Carlton Mitre celeraic soup

I started with the Beetroot marinated salmon, capers, watercress, lemon alioli, homemade brown bread £8.50. This is one of my dream dishes and it didn’t disappoint. I loved it, though to be truthful I didn’t dare taste the bread for fear of being unable to stop eating it. I gave it to Jman, who ate it, silly boy.

Riverside Carlton Mitre beetroot salmon starter

For mains Jman had the Whole roast plaice, samphire, brown shrimps, beluga lentils, anchovy & Chervil butter £15.00. I don’t know why he was surprised when it came with a head, it clearly says whole on the menu. Nevermind, once he got over it the fish was perfectly cooked, nice and moist and the accoutrements made it a tasty dish. Most important of all he was able to finish the whole dish after all the bread.

Whole place with samphire and brown shrimp Riverside restaurant

For my main I was intrigued to try the Duck ‘Shepherds’ Pie’, seasonal vegetables £13.50. Wow, I couldn’t believe the size of it when it arrived at the table. Even if I hadn’t stuffed myself with bread, olives and salmon there’s no way I could eat this American sized portion. You may think the dish looks big enough but it was packed full of duck, no mash filler here. The price per pound of food is a steal. As for the food itself, the duck was tender and delicious and the steamed vegetables were lovely.

Riverside Carlton Mitre duck shepherd's pie

It was my birthday and I wasn’t about to let a little issue like being thoroughly stuffed get between me and dessert. Still, I had to concede something and we opted to share a Riverside Fumble, peaches, vanilla custard & marscapone, granola crumble, £6.50. What a perfect way to end the meal, it was light and refreshing, a real palate cleanser and exactly my kind of treat.

Riverside Carlton Mitre peach fool

We throughly enjoyed our meal at the Riverside Restaurant. It’s a great option for both cosy winter indoor and sunny summer al fresco dining in Surrey.

Riverside Restaurant, Carlton Mitre Hotel, Hampton Court Road, Hampton Court, East Molesey, KT8 9BN
Small car park, can double park if you leave your keys with the concierge, also a few pay and display spots alternatively use the car park at Hampton Court station.

We were guests of Riverside Restaurant but this is no way biased my review.

Date Night

I recently wrote a guest post for The Hersham Hub and thought you might find it of some interest as well:

Date night, for when you get to leave the kids at home

As a Hersham mother my life generally revolves around my children so I definitely appreciate a nice meal out sans kids. With so many excellent restaurants in Surrey it is often difficult for to decide where to go. Here are my top picks for when I get to leave the kids at home and have a little quality time with my husband

Close to home:

64 High Street, Walton-On-Thames, Surrey, KT12 1BU

Cappadocia Walton-on-Thames chandelier

For when you want a bit of bling look no further than the giant chandelier at Cappadocia in Walton-on-Thames. It’s the big Turkish restaurant in the centre if you haven’t been you really need to go. Food here isn’t remotely comparable to your standard kebab shop, meals are sophisticated and beautifully prepared. Service is super duper friendly. Lights are dimmed after 8 for a more grown up vibe. Visit on belly dancing night for some bonus entertainment.

Original Cappadocia review

Mezzet Dar
39 Bridge road, Hampton Court, East Molesey, KT8 9HA

Library dining room at Dar

Sometimes you want a London vibe without the time and expense of actually going into London – no problem, Mezzet Dar and Bridge Road give you that feel of London close to home. It’s a stylish little place with superb cocktails and an imaginative fusion of Spanish and Lebanese tapas. The menu changes regularly and all food is expertly prepared. Your big challenge here is going to be narrowing down your selection. The owner is a local and passionate about his two restaurants (he also owns the fabulous Mezzet two doors down) and is usually around to ensure the happiness of his patrons. Request the library room for a quieter experience.

Original Mezzet Dar review

Russell Rd, Shepperton, Surrey, TW17 9HX

Red Lion Shepperton fireplace interior

Date nights don’t have to be a lavish affair, and The Red Lion is an excellent choice for a more low key event that doesn’t compromise quality. My current go to pub, I love everything about the Red Lion. The interior is understated modern, food is both tasty and interesting. You’ll find some pub classics but also some really different dishes, it was here I ate nasturtium for the first time. Sit in the snug for added date night ambiance.

Original Red Lion review

Further afield:

2-4 West Street, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 1BL

Two to Four Dorking

When you’re looking for romance 2 to 4 is the perfect spot. An amazing old building houses a delightful restaurant which oozes charm and serves excellent food for great prices. Both seasonal décor accoutrements and menus make every visit unique. Service is friendly and relaxed. Sit upstairs for extra cosiness.

Original 2 to 4 review

4-8 Kingston Hill, Kingston Upon ThamesSurrey, KT2 7NH

Roz Ana Kingston-Upon-Thames exterior

Sometimes date nights demand a curry, or rather you might need to use curry as a carrot to get your other half to indulge in the whole date night concept. Roz Ana in Kingston is posh curry worthy of a special night out. Food is fascinating, incredibly presented and tastes even better than it looks. Cocktails are a bonus to start your night with, including some of their own inventions such as the Bollywood Martini and the Pink Elephant.

Original Roz Ana review

At the Foot of Box Hill, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6BX

Emlyn Restaurant Mercure Burford Bridge dining room

If you have something to celebrate head to Emlyn at Box Hill. Head chef Nick Sinclair creates truly stunning food to spoil yourself with. Service is great and tables are well spaced to allow for privacy. And it’s in beautiful surroundings to boot (go for a walk on Box Hill first.) Super bonus, it’s in a hotel so if you manage to arrange a sleepover for your kids you can indulge in the wine and stay over for a super special time.

Original Emlyn review

Book a babysitter and go!


Esher has yet another new restaurant. Castello has taken on the old Piccolo spot. Having made big improvements to the site, they opened their doors on September 18th. Some of you may be familiar with Castello as they used to have a location in Old Shepperton, which they have shifted to Esher. It’s an independent husband and wife team and they have one other location in Windsor.

Exterior of Castello Esher

The interior is now all on one level and it works so much better. Décor is bright and cheery. When we visited it was packed giving a great bustling feeling but we still able to have a comfortable conversation without struggling to hear each other.

Staff are friendly and welcoming.

Interior dining area at Castello Esher

The regular menu is pasta and pizza as well as standard mains, including a steak section. A specials menu has several choices of starters, mains and desserts – it could actually pass for a full menu on its own. There’s also a £9.95 daily lunch menu that includes a glass of wine/beer.

All food is prepared fresh onsite to order.

To start Jman ordered from the specials menu, New Zealand mussles tipped with garlic butter and parmesan – finished under grill £7.50 They were massive, which he loved because it was less effort on his part. You know they were tasty because he was trying to shovel one into my mouth before I’d even picked up my fork.

Giant mussels at Castello Esher

I’m boringly predictable and obviously couldn’t resist the Calamari served with tartar sauce and leaf salad £6.50. Lightly battered and tender insides plus an actual salad instead of a bit of lettuce for garnish. This would make a tasty complete lunch, yes, I think I will…

Calamari at Castello Esher

In the interest of not duplicating dishes, for a main we fought over who got the daily special of Pan seared cod wrapped in bacon served with garlic crushed new potatoes, Mediterranean vegetables & Pinot Grigio cream sauce with prawns £14.95. He won. And he relished every bite.

Bacon wrapped cod with prawns at Castello Esher

I chose another dish from the specials menu, Pan fried seabass fillets with saffron risotto, courgette and minted yoghurt £16.50. I didn’t feel too hard done to in missing out on the cod. The fish was perfectly cooked with crispy skin. I couldn’t get enough of the courgettes and the risotto was nice and creamy.

Sea bass with saffron risotto at Castello Esher

As much as I was enjoying the food and ambiance, this hobby is making me fat so I elected to pass on dessert, despite some yummy sounding home made ones.

Castello sits well along other restaurants in Esher. It’s a smaller, more intimate family affair serving up great freshly prepared food and an excellent choice for a grown up meal.

10 High St, Esher, Surrey KT10 9RT
Sandown car park is closest car park

We were guests of Castello but this is no way biased my review.

Tante Marie

You may have heard of the esteemed Tante Marie culinary school in Woking, in April they opened a restaurant in Woking town centre. As it’s Tante Marie, this isn’t your regular restaurant, everyone working here has completed the Cordon Bleu diploma and is studying for an advanced hospitality management diploma. Meaning the cooking, serving, cleaning and admin is all done by students.

Tante Marie exterior

It’s a brand new building with a nice modern interior, a splash of colour and snazzy finishing touches complete the space. A good amount of other diners creates atmosphere. A large patio area is in front on the pedestrianised shopping street – it’s nice to see Woking town centre being transformed and this area now has a great bustling vibe.

Tante Marie dining room

Service is very professional and discreet, worthy of a much higher standard of establishment.

Shortly after arriving some popcorn appeared on the table, which we enjoyed munching on while making our selections.

popcorn amuse bouche at Tante Marie

Menus change constantly. The lunch menu features a soup of the day, salad of the day, a tart of the day, a dish of the day plus tapas syle dishes. We opted for the smaller tapas dishes in order to try more types of food.

Dishes arrived as they were ready. The first to come was the Smoked mackerel pate, croutes £4.50. It was tasty.

smoked mackerel Tante Marie

Next came the lightly dressed Caesar salad £3.50, although there was a splodge of dressing near the bottom.

caesar salad Tante Marie

We also had Spring vegetables beignets & caper mayo £4.50, I quite liked the mayo.

Spring vegetables beignets caper mayo Tante Marie

And super tender Chicken goujons, chive cream £6.00.

chicken goujons Tante Marie

Lastly we had two portions of the Charred peach, crispy prosciutto, mozzarella £4.50. This dish was excellent, there were tons of textures and flavours that all complemented one another. I wished the other dishes, while good, were as exciting as this one. Possibly my choices were limited by my dislike of crab and my squeamishness about eating rabbit.

charred peach, prosciutto, mozzarello

To finish we split a dessert – Pistachio meringue & fresh fruit £4.00. Again the dish was nice.

fresh fruit and pistachio meringue Tante Marie

Overall the food was good, it’s well worth trying out. You might even be inspired to take one of the day or weekend courses offered in the display kitchen beside the dining area.

59-61 Commercial Way, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6HN
Town car park

The Olde Swan Chertsey

We set out to visit a cafe in Chertsey, but it was Sunday and when we got there the high street was a ghost town and every eatery we tried was closed. A little further along we noticed a pub with open doors. Ordinarily it didn’t look like the type of pub we would give a second glance to, however we were starved by this point so went inside on the off chance we’d actually decide to get lunch there.

The Olde Swan Chertsey exterior

Shocker, it was really nice inside. Trendily decorated with downpipe paint and eclectic furniture, including a dental chair and a billiard table, erm, table. It’s fairly small but there’s nice high ceilings and lots of light floods in through the windows. As if the space wasn’t inviting enough, the cheery woman at the bar immediately greeted us and we decided to stay.

The Olde Swan Chertsey interior

The Olde Swan Chertsey was recently taken over by McLean Inns, a small chain of seven pubs owned by two bothers and a friend, and they gave it a complete makeover in 2013.

In addition to the interior there are a few picnic tables in the parking lot for al fresco dining.

outdoor seating area The Olde Swan Chertsey

All food is prepared fresh onsite and cooked to order. The menu is modern and reasonably priced. As it was Sunday we opted for roasts though there were other Sunday options.

Jman went for the Topside of beef £9.95, served with peppered roast potatoes, fresh vegetables, a Yorkshire pudding and parsnip crisps. He really enjoyed it; lots of tasty gravy, lots of good meat, excellent roast potatoes and a big Yorkie. It tasted even better because of the great price.

roast beef The Olde Swan Chertsey

I tried the vegetarian option roast, mostly because I love butternut squash, butternut squash & chick pea roast £8.95. It seemed to be chunks of squash mixed with stove top stuffing and pressed into a cake, which wasn’t what I was expecting. However I happen to love stove top stuffing so wasn’t too disappointed. And those crispy parsnips on top were the bees knees.

Butternut squash roast The Olde Swan Chertsey

The vegetables came separately and were beautifully lightly cooked. Jman practically inhaled all that kale and then asked me what it was, naturally his interest fizzled out once I told him it’s a Hollywood thing.

kale, carrots and broccoli vegetables with roast dinner The Olde Swan Chertsey

This is about the best value roast dinner we’ve had in Surrey. We had a roast beef dinner for several pounds more the following weekend and they were pretty much interchangeable. The Olde Swan Chertsey is proof you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

27 Windsor St, Surrey, Chertsey, KT16 8AY
Car park

Withies Inn

With yet another Canadian visitor in tow I headed off to Loseley Park in Compton. In need of lunch we got a local tip and headed down a random looking lane, emerging at Withies Inn.

Withies Inn exterior

I always love taking Canadian guests to old English pubs but Withies takes the cake. It doesn’t appeared to have changed, well… much of it seems to be exceedingly old but absolutely nothing save the loos has changed since the 1970s. I’m including the crockery in that statement.

Withies Inn wood carving

Dark, low ceilings, a giant fireplace, original ornate carvings. Even the menu and service are throw-backs. Female staff in black skirts and white blouses and Male in Black suit trousers, white shirts and bow ties.

Withies Inn internal bar seating area

There’s a small ‘proper’ dining area where you can choose from such dishes as grouse, half a roast duckling with orange sauce, steak Diane flambe, suckling pig, you get the gist. Perhaps surprisingly there are even a few vegetarian options. It’s not cheap though, Tournedos Rossini is £23.95 (don’t ask me, I’m far too young to know what that is). Reservations recommended.

Withies Inn dining room area

Upon arrival you’re greeted by a beautiful fairytale garden area that carries on around the side of the building.

Withies Inn outside area

There’s a mix of types of tables. You can get the dining area a la carte service to garden as well, complete with red chequered table cloths, very civilised.

Withies Inn civilised al fresco dining

We sat in the bar area, which serves sandwiches, jackets and several other more unique sounding dishes like Hawaiian Salad and Withies Pate.

Canadian guest number one decided to try the Ploughman’s Stilton £7.95. Really nice bread and a big chunk of cheese.

Withies Inn stilton ploughman's

Number two opted for a Prawn sandwich £6.75. It was quite enjoyable.

Withies Inn prawn mayo sandwich

I dithered a lot and then settled on the Chef’s own quiche £7.25. It was chock full of broccoli, which is my type of quiche because it wasn’t so egg heavy.

Withies Inn vegetable quiche

Do I love this place? Absolutely, where else do you get to time travel with your meal?

Withies Lane, Compton, Guildford, Surrey, GU3 1JA
Car park