A traditional pub revamped to serve beautifully presented rustic food.
Go there for: Hearty homemade food and a relaxed atmosphere.
Avoid: Mondays: they close because Chalk Hill can’t supply bread on Mondays.
Is it worth the calories?: Fresh and hearty but so good: yes!
Tips: They have great bands in the evening but book a table or be prepared to stand (or dance).
Ex-property developer Dennis and interior designer Virginia have dived straight in to their first restaurant venture. They refurbished the derelict pub in 2012, giving it a modern, artfully designed interior, even down to crafting the furniture themselves, and have relandscaped the pretty terraced garden.
When you meet Dennis you’ll understand why he says he doesn’t want his food to be fandazzadozy: he firmly believes some of the best food in the world is peasant food that relies on good, simple local ingredients. And that’s the style of food he wants to serve at Bertram’s Bees. He’s still finding his feet with suppliers but bread comes from our beloved Chalk Hills Bakery, vegetables from Secretts or Waitrose (!), meat from Rocliffes. He offers Surrey’s only local cheese, Norbury Blue, and serves his favourite Cheddar, Ashmore, which made in Canterbury. Salami, not disappointingly, comes from Italy.
The menu changes daily but there’s always pies (he wouldn’t tell us where the meat pies were made, but handmade they are) and vegetable tarts. They have a different soup daily (£5.50 with focaccia). In the evening they serve meat, fish, cheese or vegetarian platters (£12.95 large, £8.90 small).
We ordered a soup with a big sandwich (£9.50), which certainly delivered on the size front! The spiced tomato soup was thick and flavoursome and nicely garnished. I have to say the sandwich was huge rather than big: Shirlee chose the roast vegetable and houmous filling. The vegetables were generous and well cooked, the houmous good and garlickly, and the Chalk Hills’ bread hearty and delicious. The red pepper and goats cheese tart was one of the nicest I’ve ever had: crisp pastry (gluten free, I’d guess), tangy goat’s cheese and an extra topping of cheddar (£6.90). Served with Secretts’ salad with a good homemade dressing, it made a satisfying lunch.
However, we soldiered on to sample the cakes, all made on the premises. The moment we arrived we’d chosen the gluten-free vanilla and strawberry because it looked so enticing. Served with a little pot of crème fraîche and blackberry coulis, it looked even prettier on the plate and was everything you’d want a pretty cake to be: moist, well textured and moreish. The carrot cake was similarly garnished and equally good. The cream-cheese topping was rich, the cake dappled with raisins and spiced with cinnamon.
Dennis and Virginia are establishing a different community here: they sell local artists’ wares, you can take your own container to fill with olive oil, they have live bands and plan to covert the barn to a bar. It’s definitely worth a visit (or two). And the name? Dennis tells me it’s Virginia’s grandfather’s name, and they just liked it.
Tel 01306 888839