The Westerly is a bit of a local favourite. With a bib gourmand under its belt since 2008, it is a modern British bistro run by husband and wife team Jon and Cynthia Coomb.
Praise has been heaped on the Westerly since it opened in 2007, with even Jay Rayner and Simon Majumdar trekking down from London to review it.
Jay described it as “stunning” while Simon pronounced it “almost flawless”. And I am lucky enough to live just 5 minutes down the road from it.
Of course this wasn't the first time I had been to The Westerly. I'd just always been too lazy to blog about it, preferring to keep relaxed Surrey food to myself and leave the photo snapping and criticism for nights out at the big boys in London.
But, I decided, the time had come. Starting to feel a bit jaded with all the faddy, pop up, underground, “latest concept” new openings in the big smoke, it was quite a revelation to be tucking into honest, non-fancy but very, very good food.
It was a horrible rainy night outside, but as we entered the cosy dining room we felt immediately at home.
I sipped on my apertif of prosecco with pomegranate and perused the menu. There's always a variation of pig's head croquette, and tonight was no exception, but I decided to try something I wouldn't normally have. I went for mackerel with granny smith apple and curry oil. The presentation was simple, the mackerel smokey and rich, with the apple giving a tart sweetness and the curry oil adding some heat to this perfectly rounded dish.
The main course was more problematic, leaving me stumped as to whether to have duck or crisp belly of pork. On Cynthia's advice, I went for the duck confit and roast magret with potatoes and chorizo. I wasn't convinced about the chorizo-duck combination, but the chorizo was scarce enough for it not to be a worry. The confit leg was absolute perfection – golden crispy skin and succulent meat that fell off the bone at the mere thought of eating it. The magret was pink and tasty, and it was all served in an earthily savoury jus. The roast rump of lamb with pesto and gnocchi was also pronounced a success by my husband.
Pudding was the real climax of the evening though, and The Westerly will probably take prime position on the leaderboard in Pudding of the Year, so far. While my hubby went for the Westerly's old faithful, chocolate malt ice cream with a peanut butter cookie, I tried a new addition to the menu. The Pedro Ximenez and raisin jelly with burnt almond cream was true dessert genius. It came served with a buttery almond biscuit, wrapped up in waxed paper, which I greedily dipped into the topping. The jelly was studded with huge, plump, sherry-soaked raisins which tempered perfectly with the sweet foamy cream. Heaven.
Apart from the great food there are several other lovely things about The Westerly. They serve a good selection of wines in carafes of 350ml and 500ml, plus lovely dessert wines by the glass. They also do an excellent line in hot cocktails (also known as boozy coffee / hot chocolate). I finished my evening off with a hot chocolate with cognac, which set me up for a great night's sleep.
The bill came to just under £100 for two, excluding service but including two apertifs, one 500ml carafe of pinot noir, two glasses of dessert wine, one coffee and one hot chocolate with cognac.
2-4 London Road, Regiate, Surrey RH2 9AN