Quality food won't cost you the Earth
Nutfield Marsh Road, Nutfield, Surrey, RH1 4EU; Telephone: 01737 643000; www.theinnonthepond nutfield.co.uk; email: enquiries@theinnonthepond nutfield.co.uk
T his historic pub, proudly dating in part from the 17th century is, indeed, within mere metres of the rather large pond after which it is appropriately named.
Given the right weather, it is an ideal al-fresco spot to enjoy a pint by itself or one of the pub's outstanding meals.
Visitors to this free house, one in Jane and Peter Eyles' small Cross Oak group, are met by an array of tap beers including the Japanese Kirin Ichiban lager which is rare in the UK but will be well known to anyone who has travelled to Japan, where it is among the top brands.
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Popular regular cask ales include local brews from W J King of Horsham, Tongham's Hogs Back Brewery and, almost on the doorstep, Reigate's own Pilgrim Brewery.
The Inn on the Pond is though, most justifiably famed for its food and offers the same mouthwatering dishes lunchtime and evening, with the addition of tempting sandwiches at lunchtime.
However, we were there to try food we were unlikely to eat at home – and didn't have to look too hard.
My wife, who generally opts for mild tasting fare, found the devilled kidneys to be subtly creamy rather than overpoweringly fierce. She followed this with venison toad in the hole – slightly spicy sausages served in sizzlingly hot, rich onion gravy, nestling in a giant Yorkshire pudding. Her verdict was that both dishes were tasty and distinctive yet not too strong on her palate.
For openers, my own taste buds drew me to the tender baby squid, mixed into perfectly balanced ratatouille, served in a parmesan-infused basket. It may have looked too good to eat but it had to be done! On a staff recommendation I was then pointed towards chicken breast with prawn and chorizo-rich jambalaya and mixed leaf salad.
A couple of hints. All dishes are freshly cooked to order, so don't expect fast food service – they will be well worth waiting for. Next – and I say this quietly to avoid upsetting skilled, imaginative chef, Chris Perkins and his team – diners with smaller appetites might like to consider requesting just two starters or moving straight on to a main but, with what's on offer, it's tempting to work 'through the card'.
In the event, we had to resist the appeals of the desserts list, such as pistachio crème brulee and brandy snap basket with fresh fruits and lemon sorbet.
The wine list is well worth detailed study, with everything from modestly-priced house wines (in 125, 175 and 250ml glasses or by the bottle, including some personal favourites from the respected South African Neil Joubert vineyard) through to top of the range Meursalt and Gevrey-Chambertin.
Such a high quality pub deserves staff to match. Duty manager Daryl Cowlard and his team met the challenge – knowledgeable about their product, friendly and efficient with their service.
The Inn on the Pond would not claim to be the cheapest place to eat but then, quite reasonably, quality costs, although in this case not excessively and we felt it was was worth every penny.