For Emma’s birthday this year, I chose Michelin-starred Drake’s in Ripley, just south of Woking.
One of the things which puzzles me is why there is a dearth of top class restaurants in Surrey. The place is awash with rich commuters and the county is poorly served by the meagre offerings. I’m convinced that anyone brave enough to invest in the right fine dining restaurant can probably make a killing.
In that sense, Drake’s is the exception, having held a Michelin star for 12 years. I had dined at Drake’s once before many years ago and I was interested to see how chef Steve Drake’s cooking had evolved.
The tasting menu started with ‘leek, haddock, quail’s egg’, which turned out to be delicious soup enhanced with flakes of smoked haddock and a just-cooked quail’s egg.
Red mullet and samphire was next up. These classic English ingredients were paired with a mixture of African and Asian spices – cumin, saffron, black garlic and lemongrass but they worked harmoniously on the plate.
The next course of pigeon was one of our favourite dishes. The main ingredients were hidden under a roof of raw button mushroom scales. The gamey but tender pigeon went well with umami-rich cep aioli, mushroom and a creamy quail’s egg.
The theme of hiding ingredients for the big reveal continued with the next dish. Beetroot was served with Bosworth leaf, sesame and Douglas fir mayonnaise. Sweet and nutty with a floral finish were my thoughts.
Restaurants are trying to make the cheese course more interesting rather than just serving slabs of cheese (for another example, see my Casamia review). Here at Drake’s, they served whipped blue cheese on raspberry toast and topped with a pickled rose petal at the table.
For her birthday, they sent out chocolate truffles on a board with ‘Happy Birthday’ written on it. I also made sure to get Emna to order tea as I had seen the tea performance at another table (watch the video below).
Food: ★★★★★ Service: ★★★★★ Ambiance: ★★★★★ VFM: ★★★★★ Overall: ★★★★★
Price: The tasting menu isn’t cheap but good value for a Michelin starred tasting menu
The Clock House, High Street, Ripley, Surrey KT23 6AQ