Google `Michelin Star Restaurants in Surrey` and you`ll be surprised just how few results you get back for our Home County. Just 4 in fact, meaning a lack of choice for us Surrey folk, but a great case for just how hard these shiny little stars are to achieve, and rightly so. One of the 4 you will find is owned by Drakes, situated in Ripley (just off the A3) and run by Steve Drake an inspirational chef who has won a Michelin Star for 9 years in a row (yes you read that correctly).
We recently had an opportunity to review Drakes, which we did without hesitation. A number of our friends have been here over the years and never a disappointing word has been muttered about it. A Michelin Star 9 years on the trot is not all the accolades this little food haven has to offer, most recently they have been awarded Wine List of the year 2013 in the Good Food Guide and voted No.38 in the Sunday Times Britain`s Top 100 Restaurant list, 2012.
We had to see what all the fuss was about – it`s a tough job but someone has to do it!
Ripley is easy to get to from just about anywhere in Surrey, it`s pretty central in fact. 30 minutes (by car) from the hustle and bustle of London you are in this sleepy little village, which has a historical charm about it. Drakes is situated in a Georgian building called The Old Clock House (since 2005), an imposing building with oodles of charm and elegance and the perfect venue for a fine dining restaurant. There is also a pretty terrace garden for warmer evenings. Pastel colours, designer understated wallpapers and dark oaks adorn the interior of the restaurant, creating a unique space designed to relax – and relax we certainly did, the moment we walked in the door.
With a delicious glass of champagne in the lounge on arrival we had chance to review the menu and soak up the surrounds. Our host was Nathan, an incredibly hospitable Australian and the perfect asset for a restaurant such as this. He soon introduced us to Thierry, a truly talented sommelier, followed by the man himself, Steve Drake. What a great start, and a real treat to be so well received. It wasn’t just for us however, what we noticed was that every single guest was given exactly the same fantastic treatment the moment they stepped through the door.
We were taken to our table where Steve came out to see us again, suggesting that he takes us on his own culinary journey, which would be a mixture of his exciting menus. We`d like to mention that apart from a Flavour Journey (six courses with vegetarian option) and Flavour Discovery (nine courses with vegetarian option) there is an a la carte menu offering splendid choice.
It wasn’t long before we were greeted with our first course and Thierry poured his first glass of wine to accompany it – the man is a true pro! Serving up the most unusual but delicious wine from Georgia (ex-Soviet Block), it was perfect for the first course, which was entitled `Snacks` on the menu. This was then followed by the first item on the tasting menu, the Pork Belly cooked in Masterststock, Quince and Langoustine Juice. It`s important to note that whilst Thierry is happy to select wines to complement each course you have the option to select from the award winning wine list for yourself.
Next up was the John Dory, Bergamont & Verjus Sauce (with a delicious 2011 Grenache Blanc). This was followed by the Clay Bakes Cauliflower, Rasin Puree & Curry Oil (with 2011 Pinot Blanc).
The journey continued through the following courses:
Venison Loin, Wasabi, Jerusalem Artichoke & Plum Sauce (Fanny Sabre Burgundy 2010)
British Artisan Cheeses (Savagnin de Voile Jura 2008)
Pear cooked in `Beurre Noisette`, Goats Milk, Hibiscus & Crystalised Vodka. Quick note on the Crystalised Vodka, these were a fantastic addition to the dish, very creative and lots of fun (Grain de Folie 2011).
The finale was the `Chocolate Breakfast` (with Maury, Mas Amiel Languedoc 2010 – possibly one of the finest wines I`ve had with chocolate!). What a fitting end to a culinary journey.
So, to sum up – Drakes should definitely make its way onto your places to eat before you die, it`s a culinary institution flying the flag for Surrey as far as we are concerned. Creative, welcoming and definitely somewhere we`ll be heading back to any time soon!
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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