Spice Merchant

We settled, dubiously, on the Indian – Spice Merchant. We’d ventured into ‘old’ Walton-on-Thames, as we knew there were restaurants down there but had never tried any of them. The ‘triangle’ is a united nations of eateries, Thai, Japanese/Korean, two pubs and and Indian.

As you may know, I’m not a curry person however I ceded the Indian to reward my husband for putting up with me photographing all his meals.

Spice Merchant Walton on Thames external

We ventered in, to a stereotype. A too big space dominated by a retro bar is filled with white table cloths and padded chairs and completely devoid of diners. We very nearly left but the waiter was desperate for us to sit down, so we stayed.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames dining room

After a look around we found there are two additional smaller rooms with cosier feels. We took a seat by a big corner window so we could people watch. It took until our main course but eventually other diners did come.

Our server was friendly and eager to please, I can’t fault the service. There is a benefit to being the only people in the restaurant.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames right seating area

The menu promises they use the best produce, acquired daily, and the finest spices from around the world.

The chef’s special section is enticing and there was more than one choice I actually wanted to eat (instead of my normal butter chicken curry cop-out.) One dish is the chicken kama sutra, that comes with a ‘lovers beware’ warning. I’m not convinced curry is a good precurser to a night of passion.

We began with popadums and chutney £1.30. I’m not a fan – love the chutneys not the actual popdums – so I watched my husband eat them, they were nice enough he went for a second round, just to make me wait a little longer to get some food.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames popadums

And then our feast arrived.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames Friday night curry

Sharing our mains was apparently never an option. For his main my husband had the Deshi Karahi chicken £7.50 a true authentic dish …one of the most popular dishes if the Asian sub continent …hot an spicy for the true curry lovers. It was very good, lots of nice flavours. Be warned, it seemed spicier than its one chili indication.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames spicy curry

I decided on the Chef’s Special Roast Bengal style £9.95 spring chicken marinated and infused with spices, char grilled and then slowly cooked in a rich masala sauce. It was nicely presented and really enjoyable, there was no spice indication but did have some heat. Large pieces of chicken and potatoes, it wasn’t quite the guess what’s in the sauce that I normally think of curries as and I liked that.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames chicken curry

We shared a Raitha cool whipped yoghurt with cucumber, tomatoes and fresh coriander £1.30. This bowl was big, more than we could have hoped to eat yet yummy enough we tried our bests to finish it.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames cucumber yoghurt

And just when you thought the yoghurt dish was a bargain, the Cachimber Indian green salad £1.75 beats them all. Tomatoes, cucumber, peas, onions, lettuce on a dinner plate. This could be a lunch, and a healthy one at that.

Excellent Peshwari naan £2.50 and pilau rice with saffron £2.20. also accompanied our mains.

Spice Merchant Walton-on-Thames salad

It’s always nice when your expectations are exceeded. Of course it helps when you go in with such low ones. It might not be a stylish restaurant, but Spice Merchant certainly serves good food at good prices.

16-20 Bridge St, Walton-on-Thames KT12 1AA
Website is shared with their other location (and looks as if it’s only for their other location) but the menu is the same – www.spice-merchant.biz
Street parking

Mada Deli

It was a beautiful sunny Sunday, so the mr and I headed down to our new favourite street – Bridge Road in Hampton Court – for a stroll and a bite to eat.

We settled on eating at Mada Deli, mainly because everyone else had had the same idea as us and it was the only spot with a free table out front.

Mada Deli exterior

A deli with chandeliers is always going to appeal to a lady who lunches but the real joy here was the stuffed moose head looking over the dining room. (Don’t worry, it’s not real.) It’s a quirky space that’s quite fun.

Mada Deli interior

Being casual, you order at the counter and food is brought to your table. The server walks around with your food and calls out your number – pay attention! They seem to only call it once and not particularly loudly.

The menu is fairly wide ranging, including options for vegetarians and gluten free. There’s also plenty of fresh juices and smoothies on the menu.

Mada Deli counter

My husband opted for the Mushrooms on toast, rocket, blue cheese, walnuts, tomato & mushrooms on rustic bread & tea/coffee £7.50. Overall it was enjoyable, though it was a whole lot of blue cheese.

Mada Deli mushrooms on toast

I had the Chicken, avocado, pesto & pine nuts £4.50. Really nice bread, nice chicken, bit skimpy with the avocado. It was all right but slightly dry from the pesto/pine nuts, it needed more moisture.

I don’t know why, with such a good menu, I always opt for a sandwich. I think I’m going to self impose a moratorium on eating sandwiches until 2015.

Mada Deli chicken pesto sandwich

Mada Deli is a great brunch spot, particularly when it’s sunny and you can sit on the pavement.

PS – if you saw some crazy people buy the giant red phonebox cum wine rack and squeeze it into the back of a mini convertible and drive down Bridge Road I confess, that was us.

11-13 Bridge Rd, East Molesey KT8 9EU
Street parking or use overpriced car park at the train station.

Red Lion Shepperton

In another Sunday lunch outing with just my husband (no kids!) we headed over the river to test out the completely revamped Red Lion in Shepperton.

Red Lion Shepperton exterior

It’s not often you’re greeted by a beautiful display of fresh flowers upon entering a pub. That was the first clue we were in for a treat.

the Red Lion shepperton fresh flower display

New, enthusiastic owners have completely redone The Red Lion, from top to bottom.

The result is possibly the most current pub in Surrey. Fresh, stylish and modern but with original features and loads of character. It also manages to maintain a true casual feel.

The new version opened its doors on September 1st.

Red Lion Shepperton fireplace interior

The indoor pub area was perhaps my favourite room. It had such a great vibe and was unique and fresh feeling – not your standard stylish gastropub.

Red Lion Shepperton interior

On busier days they open the ‘snug,’ which is a room in the ‘other’ building, alongside the front patio. It’s bright but cosy and a calm space to relax in.

Red Lion Shepperton snug

The restaurant “room,” though nice enough, was my least favourite area of the pub (something’s got to be last place.) If I were to eat in the restaurant section I would specifically request a table at the front of the pub, in the restaurant area beside the bar (near the big fireplace pictured above.)

Red Lion Shepperton restaurant

A restaurant al fresco dining area (full table service) is nicely enclosed from the road.

Red Lion Shepperton al fresco restaurant seating

There’s an eyecatching outdoor pub seating area, though there’s no backs on seats.

Red Lion Shepperton outside seating

There’s a riverside garden along the Thames (across the road from the pub.) At the moment it’s the only part of the pub that hasn’t been redone however they have big plans for the space. In spring they are going to deck the entire area to create seating for 60, along with building a pagoda with an outdoor kitchen.

Red Lion Shepperton riverside dining area

The menu is changed daily. This means that the food is both interesting and fresh. It also means a smaller selection, which is generally fine though vegetarians may struggle.

Our service was very helpful and friendly.

We enjoyed our window seat.

Red Lion Shepperton river view

We didn’t feel like an entire appetiser each but were lured by the sound of the ‘cauliflower soup, with mushrooms & brioche £5.75‘ They suggested splitting the portion between us and served it to us in two cups.

It ended up being the perfect size. It was super yummy, the taste was enhanced perfectly by the mushrooms.

Red Lion Shepperton cauliflower soup

My husband had the ‘salt beef stovie with spinach, fried egg & mustard sauce £11.50.’ It was very tasty with a good mix of flavours and nice textures. It was a good lunch sized portion but he was glad he’d had the soup.

Red Lion Shepperton stovie

I had the beetroot & onion tart, caramelised goat cheese, apple & walnut salad £7.55. Technically a starter, there are a few ingredients I find impossible to pass up – beetroot and goat cheese are two of them – even if they are on the wrong course.

The pastry was so flakey it actually made a crunchy sound when cutting through. Everything about it was delicious. With the 1/2 soup, it was filling for me for lunch.

Red Lion Shepperton beetroot and goat cheese tart

Our food was fabulous and the ambiance was fabulous.

Move over Surrey pubs, there’s a new lion in town. If this sets the new standard for Surrey pubs we’re very excited indeed.

Russell Rd, Shepperton, Surrey, TW17 9HX
Small car park.
Dogs welcome outside and in the bar area.

Cafe Aromas

A bit of sun and a bit of free time allowed me to bip to Cobham to check out Cafe Aromas.

Cafe Aromas is located on a quiet street just off the high street. There’s not much traffic so it’s enjoyable to sit on the pavement in front without traffic whizzing by. (Obviously I’m behind with my posts, as sitting outside probably isn’t an option for a few months.)

Cafe Aroma Cobham

Inside is pretty standard cafe décor but it’s clean and bright, though the drinks fridge is a bit loud. It was bustling when we visited (clearly after I took these photos.)

Staff are extra friendly and service is very good.

The menu is pretty thorough. There’s a better than average offering for cafes. All food is freshly prepared.

Cafe Aroma Cobham interior

My husband had the pasta of the week, “penne pasta, flasked salmon pieces and spinach with a cheese sauce and paprika breadcrumbs £7.50.” It was tasty. The portion wasn’t huge, but they did come around and offer more.

Cafe Aroma Cobham Pasta Bake

I opted for the “sliced avocado & green salad £5.75.” I was worried it would just be leaves but there was plenty to this salad (I asked for no tomatoes because tomatoes are gross.) It was a really enjoyable salad, crisp and refreshing. It filled me up and was excellent value.

Cafe Aroma Cobham salad

Cafe Aromas is a definite asset to Cobham town centre. It’s what you might call a “good, honest cafe.”

28 Hollyhedge Rd, Cobham, KT11 3DG
Very close to the main Cobham town car park.

The Old Plough Stoke D’Abernon

We went out for a Sunday lunch and got stuck in traffic. Unable to turn around because we’d find ourselves in even heavier traffic, we found ourselves at The Old Plough in Stoke D’Abernon.

The Old Plough is a sister pub to our beloved The Red Lion in Horsell. They belong to a small group of five pubs located around Surrey (plus one in Twickenham.)

The Old Plough Cobham exterior

Inside there are restaurant and bar areas. Both are nicely decorated and manage to project a relaxed vibe despite being packed.

The dining room is one large space rather than several little rooms.

The Old Plough Cobham interior

The garden and patio areas are lovely. Seating areas are spaciously set and there’s plenty of greenery. The patio circles a large tree, which create a unique setting. There are tables & chairs with backs on the patio and picnic tables in the garden area.

The Old Plough Cobham garden

They even have an actual old plough.

Service is friendly and very efficient. There are plenty of staff, which means short wait times to place your order and for your food to arrive.

There are some harmonies between the five locations, however specials are unique and are changed twice daily by each location’s chef.

The Old Plough Cobham the actual old plough

The Sunday set menu is a good deal, at two courses for £17.95 (including roasts.) However, it wasn’t clear that the roasts can be ordered on their own. My husband, not feeling hungry enough for two courses instead opted for a sandwich, but it turns out you can indeed order the roasts individually.

He chose the ‘Crispy bacon, brie, tomato & rocket served on granary with a small bowl of home cut chips £7.25.’ The sandwich was very nice and the chips were fine. He was looking longingly as roasts were brought out to other tables, particularly as they had the biggest Yorkshire puddings around.

The Old Plough Cobham bacon brie tomato sandwich

I had, from memory as unfortunately I can’t find my notes for the exact description, a piri piri chicken with a flavoured mayo and by the looks of it some rocket. It came “Served on ciabatta with a small bowl of home cut chips £7.50 The chicken was perfectly cooked but I was expecting some bite from the piri piri. It was enjoyable but not as good as my sandwich at The Red Lion (you’ll note I went for the chips this time!)

The Old Plough Cobham piri piri chicken ciabatta and chips

The Old Plough has undergone a few transformations over the past 10 years, finally it seems to have owners that have realised its potential.

Station Road, Stoke D’Abernon, Surrey, KT11 3BN
Car park
Dogs welcome in the garden and in the bar area.

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
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
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.