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.

The Tree House

The Tree House opened in June in the tricky location by the ‘Weybridge double roundabout’ that has seen a few restaurants come and go over the years. The key issue with this location seems to be the parking. No matter where you park, you’re going to have to cross that busy road.

But hey, what’s a bit of traffic when there’s a promise of ‘real food with real taste’ on offer?

The Tree House Weybridge exterior

Inside has been completely renovated, it’s fresh with nice booths and house plants. Yay for sound dampening house plants! Most importantly the double glazing completely blots out road noise.

The Tree House Weybridge interior

Outside is a fun dining area complete with gorillas and giraffes.

The Tree House Weybridge al fresco seating

Upstairs is The Tree House’s standout area – a creche for kids to play in while parents relax and chat. Not just for little kids either, older kids like mine. I liked this place already.

Movies and games are at one end.

The Tree House Weybridge kids area

Video game consoles (x2) with xtreme seating are at the other end, where my children promptly plopped themselves.

The Tree House Weybridge kids area video games

The menu is difficult to classify. There’s a few ‘fancy’ sounding dishes followed by burgers, pizzas and pastas.

Perhaps what is most notable is the number of dishes that are gluten free or can be modified to be gluten free. All pastas, starters and a huge percentage of other dishes are gluten free. All sandwiches can be gluten free. This is undoubtedly the most gluten free menu I’ve seen.

The Tree House is also open for breakfast and lunch. Imagine, a leisurely weekend breakfast while your kids play upstairs, can you say ‘another coffee please?’

We decided to start with a basket of hand crafted artisan bread & butter £2.75. Good but wish we had been offered choice of white or brown instead of two of each.

The Tree House Weybridge bread

The children’s menu is a juice + good selection of pizzas, pastas or burgers + choice of ice cream flavour & topping for £7.95. It seems a bit pricey for a kids menu but you are getting a free creche.

Child # 1 had the Wriggly pasta with tomato & basil sauce. A bowl, it’s larger than it looks.

The Tree House Weybridge kids pasta

And #2, predictably, had the Spinning pizza with tomato & basil sauce. I wished one of them had ordered the children’s burger, as they looked very impressive.

Both my children gobbled up their meals and hurried back upstairs for more play.

The Tree House Weybridge kids pizza

My husband, after a tough deliberation, decided on the Oven roasted pork loin, butter fondant potato, baby leaf spinach, apple compote, black pudding, red wine jus £16.95. It was enjoyable.

The Tree House Weybridge pork loin and black pudding

I struggled with the menu, nothing was jumping out and shouting ‘eat me.’ In the end I opted for baked Suffold corn fed chicken, rosti potato, pancetta & Savoy cabbage, apricot & sultana chutney £13.95. Most likely, this was the flattest plate of food I’ve ever been served. It was tasty but heavy. More pancetta than cabbage left me longing for at least one of my five a day.

And now that I typed out the description I realise it didn’t come with apricot & sultana chutney.

The Tree House Weybridge chicken and rosti

I thought I’d use the dessert course to complete my one a day at dinner so ordered the apple crumble in Bramley apple, sultana & cinnamon dressing, Cornish clotted cream, apple wafer £5.75. It was nice but perhaps not the wisest thing to order so soon after a tarte tatin filled trip to Normandy.

The Tree House Weybridge bramley apple dessert

The Tree House is a great concept. The food and service are not top level but overall it’s a good restaurant that’s enjoyable for the entire family.

2 Hanger Hill, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 9XR
thetreehouseweybridge.co.uk
Parking down Queen’s Road, or possibly in Weybridge Cricket grounds.

The Seven Stars Ripley

We were in search of a pub with steak & Guinness pie. My sister, visiting from Canada, requires having at least one steak & Guinness pie in a pub each time she visits and time was running out. On the promise of quality homemade food, we decided to try The Seven Stars near Ripley.

Seven Stars Ripley external

Independently owned, The Seven Stars prides itself on being a traditional pub. A quiet traditional pub – background music is turned way down, tables are spaciously placed and there’s no fruit machines.

The inside is bright, airy and very clean.

Open fires and cosy curtained booths indicate this is a good place to be on a winter’s day.

Seven Stars Ripley internal

The bar is a sort of mad dream bar, every inch seems to be covered in a bottle. Plus there’s wine on tap, how exciting.

We encountered the owner sitting at one end of the bar, a character that added interest to our lunch.

Service is relaxed and friendly.

Seven Stars Ripley bar

There’s a garden area, including a unique row of outdoor booths, two of which are heated.

Seven Stars Ripley garden

The menu is long and filled with pub classics, baguettes, sandwiches, a kid’s menu and daily specials, all made fresh on the premises.

I had the Carrot & coriander homemade soup £4.95. The cream came in its own little jug, to add to the soup to taste. The soup itself was lovely, not blended and thick with carrot matchsticks.

Seven Stars Ripley carrot and coriander soup

My husband had the 10″ baguette jumbo sausage & pan fried onion £6.95. It was excellent. The smell of fried onions was certainly divine.

Seven Stars Ripley sausage & onion baguette

We shared a side order of Cheesy chips £3.95.

Seven Stars Ripley cheesy chips

My daughter had the Bacon & brie sandwich £6.95.

Seven Stars Ripley bacon and brie sandwich

And finally the purpose of our visit, the Steak & Guinness pie prime beef cooked with mushrooms & Guinness with a puff pastry top served with chips & peas or seasonal vegetables £10.95

It was one of, if not the, best pie she’s ever had. The beef was beautiful, no filler, no gristle, just lots of perfectly cooked prime beef in a super tasty mushroom gravy.

Seven Stars Ripley steak & guiness pie

We were all pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food. The Seven Stars is perfect if you’re looking for a traditional pub that does great food. It exemplifies why we should cherish independently owned pubs.

Newark Lane, Ripley, Surrey, GU23 6DL
www.sevenstarsripley.co.uk
Car park
Dogs welcome in the garden

Great Fosters Afternoon Tea

Built in 1550 as a royal hunting lodge, Great Fosters is now a hotel that serves meals along with a luxury afternoon tea. With my Canadian mother and sister visiting from Canada and realising they’d never experienced a proper English afternoon tea, I decided to take them to Great Fosters.

Great Fosters external

Character greets you at the door, as you must stoop to get through the little door within a door. The lobby is beautiful, the ceiling is ornately plastered and there’s a massive fire place at one end.

We were ushered down a wide, panelled corridor to the cocktail bar for our tea. The room was pleasant, bright and modern with touches of history. It was busy enough to create a nice vibe but not so busy as to be crowded.

Great Fosters internal bar

You can request, when booking, to have your afternoon tea in the Anne Boleyn room. I preferred this room to the cocktail bar and would recommend requesting it, particularly in winter.

Great Fosters internal Anne Boleyn room

Set in 50 acres, a beautiful formal garden along with a Saxon moat are nearest the building. The terrace overlooks these and is the best choice, weather permitting, for afternoon tea.

Great Fosters external tables

We opted for the regular afternoon tea (£24.50.) The price compares favourably to hotels in London, though admittedly I don’t have anything to compare it to in Surrey. There is also a gluten free afternoon tea.

With three pages of tea to choose from we selected an Assam, a Rooibos and hand-tied flowering Osmanthus. All were top quality.

To begin, we selected sandwiches from our waitress’s tray. I chose (from left to right) Coronation chicken on caraway bread, Smoked salmon and cream cheese on beetroot bread, Marinated cucumber and crème fraîche on basil bread and Egg mayonnaise and cress on wholegrain bread. All were lovely and, being famished, I had a second helping.

Great Fosters afternoon tea sandwiches

Service was very attentive and decadent. Nothing was too much trouble, more tea, different tea, more milk, more jam, anything was immediately provided.

When I finally decided I’d had my fill of sandwiches we moved on to the main event. Three tiers of tasty treats to feast on.

Great Fosters afternoon tea

On bottom we had three fruit breads, a super rich brownie, an almond cake and a carrot cake.

Great Fosters afternoon tea cakes

In the middle tier, wrapped up in a napkin, was six warm scones. One raison and one plain each, smothered in jam and clotted cream. They were divine, the star of the day.

Great Fosters afternoon tea scones jam and clotted cream

We made our way to the very visually appealing top tier – Black Forest, passionfruit, chocolate caramel shortbread, apricot tart, green tea & raspberry macaron and in the middle, strawberries in jelly. Full stomachs did not deter us from polishing off this level. Some were very sweet and would been perfect for someone with a sweet tooth, like Ann.

Great Fosters afternoon tea desserts

Once we had eaten everything save the fruit bread, the waiter asked if we would like to take it home with us. Yes. please, my children would love me to bring them home a treat of fruit bread. Maybe.

The lesson is, don’t overstuff yourself, they do doggy bags (not normally something I associate with the UK.)

Great Fosters takeaway box

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Great Fosters. It was a perfect choice for “foreign” tourists to immerse themselves in English history and enjoy a proper English afternoon tea.

Great Fosters, Stroude Road, Egham, Surrey, TW20 9UR
greatfosters.co.uk
Large car park

Great Fosters on UrbanspoonSquare Meal

Delectable Normandy

I’ve just returned from a week in Normandy, France, en famille. As our trip seemed to revolve around meals, I thought our discoveries might be of interest to others travelling around the region.

Normandy is noted for its food. It has plenty of fresh seafood from its ports and apple products from its orchards, not to mention being the home to Camembert cheese. Like nearby Jersey, Normandy is renowned for its cream products and they often appear in dishes.

Honfleur harbour, Normandy France

Seafood

Enjoying a long coastline, seafood features prominently on Normandy menus. Scallops, oysters, prawns (shrimp,) mussels, salmon and a wide variety of cold water white fish. One restaurant we dined at (La Cale, see below) even listed the fisherman’s name in the fish section.

The freshness is reflected in the taste. Prawns often tasted like they were harvested when we placed the order.

Below, oysters filled with a flavourful cream sauce and grilled. Home-smoked salmon is common, as shown in the bottom right image.

DSC_2711turbot in coconut cream Asnelles, Normandy, FranceDSC_2389Normandy smoked salmon

Apples

Apple orchards are another hallmark of Normandy and the fruit is a common ingredient. Salads feature segments, duck and mussels are cooked in cider, pork is glazed with it, tarts showcase it, the list of apple dishes in Normandy is endless. It’s certainly the place to be if you’re an apple lover.

Normandy duck cider confit RouenNormandy pork chop with apples

Camembert

Normandy’s most famous contribution to the world of cheese, Camembert is found in salads, savoury dishes and cheese courses.

Seen on the right of the cheese plate below, you can appreciate how runny it is when served properly. On the right image, vegetables and camembert make up the inside of a Normandy spring roll.

DSC_3042Normandy spring roll with camembert

Other

Also commonly seen, a galette is a savoury buckwheat pancake (seen below with scallops in a cream sauce.) Pate is also a menu mainstay.

DSC_2386Pate and salad, Rouen Normandy France

Salads

Though tempting, we tried to save the multi course meals for dinner and generally opted for salads at lunch. Most places we went had at minimum 3 types of salad (usually 4 or 5.) We rarely saw the Salad Nicoise – they have too many good salads of their own to offer.

A favourite at our table was the salade Normande. Over the course of the week we saw six. A salade Normande is with camembert and apples and either bacon or ham. Sometimes the cheese and apples are warm and sometimes cold. Often there is also eggs or walnuts. One thing is for certain, we liked it enough to have it nearly every day.

DSC_2330Normandy saladDSC_2459Normandy Normandie salade

Other favourite salads were the French version of the Caesar salad, chevre (goat’s cheese,) vegetarian, chicken pineapple, ham & melon, and seafood. Normandy is a salad lovers paradise. (The green in the melon salad is mint chantilly cream.)

DSC_3132DSC_2515

We did, however, steer clear of salad with intestines (andoulliette) and/or gizzards (gesier.) There was no shortage of these salads on offer. Blech.

Desserts

The desserts were incredible and we caved into them at least once a day. One day we decided to have a bag of doritos for supper in order to leave plenty of room for pudding – and we had no regrets.

Apple desserts, most commonly tarte tatin, were our favourite, including the most drool inducing dish of the trip, warm apple caramel (see La Cale below.)

DSC_2433Normandy apple tart with ice creamNormandy apple tartDSC_2952

We also fell in love with the ‘cafe gourmand.’ A wonderful way to finish a meal, it’s a coffee with a trio of mini desserts. Genius!

DSC_2544Cafe Gourman, Rouen Normandy France

Notable Restaurants

l-ecume in Dieppe, The first restaurant of our trip. We stopped in for lunch and dined on amazing salads with perfectly poached eggs on top. They set the bar for all salads on our journey – though most were excellent, none were as good as those on our first meal. www.l-ecume.fr

Normandy goat cheese saladDSC_2334

La Cale in Asnelles. Unassuming from the outside, we were unprepared for the quality of the food and lovely interior. It was here we had the best dessert of the trip, the incredible warm apple caramel tarte. The mains were all yummy, as was the complimentary amuse bouche. If in the area of Arromanche-les-Bains it is definitely worth stopping in for a meal. http://restaurant-lacale.fr/

Normandy la Cale AsnellesDSC_2560DSC_2565DSC_2566DSC_2817Normandy apple caramel tart best dessert ever

Le Clos Saint-Marc in Rouen. Located beside the St Marc market, this lunch spot has massive, tasty salads for reasonable prices. Also mouth watering classics like the croc monsieur.

DSC_3138Normandy caesar saladNormandy croc mosieurDSC_3132

We certainly ate well (though I wish I could have left those extra pounds at the border.) Normandy surpassed the culinary experiences I’ve had in other parts of France. Apple desserts were my favourite, so much so that I bought a Normandy apple cook book written in French, a language I don’t speak. For me, it’s worth learning a language just to recreate some of the delicious food we had on our trip.

Superfish West Byfleet

West Byfleet suffers a dearth of enticing restaurants. There’s the Indian, the Italian, the pub and the chippie. A chippie that happens to be a branch of the Surrey Legend that is Superfish.

Superfish West Byfleet exterior

There are queues out the door for the takeaway. Jane’s Upstairs generally requires a reservation. Finding ourselves in West Byfleet and curious to learn what the fuss is about, my family & I dined in on a Friday evening.

Superfish West Byfleet exteiror queue

Beautiful flowers grace the outside.

Inside is spotless. You don’t feel the grease permeating the air like in some places. This is how village restaurants used to be. Not a sign of pretension anywhere.

Staff are very cheerful, despite the never ending stream of people.

Superfish West Byfleet interior

A busy evening, the kitchen was running flat out, freshly battering each fish before it was deep-fried.

Superfish West Byfleet kitchen

Jane’s Upstairs is, you guessed it, upstairs. It’s the “silver service” version of Superfish. Access is via the downstairs eating area.

This was my intended target for the night, however while I was busy taking photos of the outside my husband, unaware, sat down at a free table in Superfish and a plate of complementary prawns immediately appeared on the table. Reluctantly, I sat down.

complementary prawns

After ordering I popped upstairs to see what Jane’s is like, though I didn’t have the sense to take a photo. Much quieter than downstairs, the tables are laid with linen and the waiters are very friendly.

The menu is similar to Superfish but there are some additions, particularly on the dessert front. It’s only 80p per fish more than dining downstairs but it’s a much more refined atmosphere and where you would want to be if coming for anything other than a quick bite.

By the time I got back downstairs our food had already arrived and was being eaten. Missing my patient Ladies, I swatted my family away and quickly took some pics, though you have to imagine more bread & chips. The bread is complementary, along with pickles and a variety of sauces.

basket of bread

Only daughter #2 was eating with us. She ordered a starter portion of calamari rings £4.25 (her favourite) plus new potatoes £1.50. I tried one of the rings, it was more batter than calamari but it was nice and crispy.

calamari and new potatoes

Husband and I both decided to go for the sea bass £10.50 from the specials board. It came three ways, fried, grilled or poached in a white wine sauce.

I elected to have it the poached. It was nice and tender. Poached doesn’t lend itself to a great deal of flavour but I paired mouthfuls with mushy peas and it was enjoyable.

Seabass poached in white wine sauce

Husband, perhaps surprisingly, went for the grilled. Grilled to perfection and very tasty.

grilled seabass

The chips (included in the price of the fish) were very yummy. They really suited my tastes (I am not a fan of mushy in the middle blah on the outside kind you commonly get in pubs and chippies.)

chips

We rounded out our meals with an order of ‘Yorkshire’s own mushy peas £1.30.’ Our waitress said one would be enough for both of us. She wasn’t lying, one would be enough for a large, hungry family. Good flavour though.

mushy peas

Superfish is a down home restaurant serving quality fish and chips. If that’s what you’re after then you’ll be hard pressed to find better.

Superfish is licensed and also has branches in Ashted, Cheam Village, Ewell, East Molesey, Morden and Tolworth.

51 Old Woking Road, West Byfleet, Surrey, KT14 6LG
superfishuk.co.uk
Street parking, Waitrose car park opposite but you’re only supposed to use it if you shop at Waitrose.

No 7 Temple

The newest addition to the Weybridge dining scene, No 7 Temple bills itself as ‘Indian Gastronomy.’ We decided to treat my father in law to his favourite cuisine for our last meal together.

No 7 Temple Weybridge exterior

Opened in late June, No 7 Temple has brought a new style of Indian to Weybridge – refined Indian food with contemporary surroundings.

No 7 Temple Weybridge interior

They’ve done a superb job with the interior. The tones are a very current grey. The furniture and accents are smart and elegant.

It’s a large space and there’s plenty of room between tables.

No 7 Temple Weybridge side interior

The evening was very busy as locals acquaint themselves with the new restaurant on the scene.

Our visit started alongside casual diners and families, by the time we left was mostly stylish couples and groups of friends.

No 7 Temple Weybridge back interior

The menu features interesting sounding dishes like railway lamb tava and gunpowder chicken curry, along with the regular favourites.

Pricing is simple. There are two sections (specials & classics) and each curry has a choice of meat. Dishes in each section are the same charge, which varies from £9 for chicken to £13 for king prawns. There’s also a selection of vegetable curries.

We started with ‘papadums + pickles tray £2 per person.’

papadums and chutney

Quaintly, our main course arrived piping hot on a trolley. We had, clockwise from top left:

Goan fish curry delicately spiced seabass + shrimp cooked in a tangy tamarind and coconut infused sauce £12.00
Vindaloo king prawns £13.00
Bombay potatoes £4.00
Cucumber raita £3.50
Nirali Chicken cooked in a creamy buttery sauce, with a light spice kick £10.00
Chicken Jalfrezi £9.00

Along with Peshwari Naan £3.50 and Steamed Basmati rice £3.00.

Everything was delicious and fresh tasting.

Curry trolley

There are some kinks. Noise needs to be dampened but they’re aware of this and have already ordered soft furnishings to drape along the rafters and windows. Service is still finding its feet. Most importantly the food is very good, they’ve certainly got that right.

I will reserve judgement on No 7 Temple until a second visit. I’m looking forward to afternoon tea, Indian style – something they will be starting in the autumn.

7, Temple Market, Queens Road, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 9DL
7temple.com
Small shared car park.