Little Dudley House in Dorking is a cosy yet sophisticated restaurant with food to match its warming ambience.
Originally built in 1733, the traditional stone building has been restored with a stylish mix of old and new - modern furnishings, heavy, oak beams and exposed brickwork. We attended an event, the Winter Food & Wine Showcase, arranged by the affable General Manager, Tony Austin, in Little Dudley House's Glass Room - a fine place for dining surrounded by expansive glass walls opening onto an outdoor area with views of the Surrey hills.
Little Dudley House holds a food and wine showcase at the start of each season to flaunt its changing seasonal menus. The evenings are well attended by a mix of loyal customers and some high profile food lovers around a large communal dining table. The meal is served in flights, comprising of 3 starters, 3 main courses and 2 desserts, all with carefully selected matching wines. Wine is clearly a passion here as much as the food, and the selections were excellent pairings for the winter fare we sampled.
Flight 1 - Appetisers
Plump, rope grown Scottish mussels in a fresh, zingy, lemongrass and chilli cream sauce paired well with the lively, citrus tones of a Kiki Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (New Zealand). A baked hens egg, luscious smoked haddock & cream with rye bread soldiers was served in a jar and matched with the full bodied Jordan Estate Chenin Blanc, 2008 (South Africa) and a wild mushroom soup spiked with brandy was served with the robust, fruity McHenry Honen, 3 Amigos Shiraz, Grenache Mataro 2007 (Australia) from the founder of big name wineries, Cloudy Bay and Cape Mentelle.
On the daily menu, these appetisers are generally priced at between £6-£9 each.
Flight 2 - Main courses
A lush, fulsome salmon and shellfish fishermen's pie and buttered greens were served with Casa Lopstolle Chardonnay, 2009 (Chile) - a well rounded, fruity wine with hints of oak. A game dish of pheasant breast, celeriac mash, smoked pancetta and chestnut mushroom sauce sounds unctuous but was less memorable - it was paired with the Pagliaia Chianti Classico, 2007 (Italy), a lovely, mellow mix of fruit and spice. A 28 day 7oz fillet steak with pepper sauce stood up well to my favourite wine, the big, silky, spicy Mr Smith Shiraz, McLaren Vale, 2008 (Australia). The quality of the steak was good, and cooked proficiently, although it wasn't quite warm enough by the time it reached us.
Main courses are generally priced at between £12-£19 each.
Flight 3 - Desserts
The tonka bean creme brulee had dainty vanilla and sweetly spicy notes, served with tropical fruits and the Australian staple sticky sweet wine, Noble One Botrytis Semillon de Bortoli (Australia).
Chocolate fondant with Horlicks ice cream, served with an "Angelus cocktail", a potent mix of Baileys and Frangelico. Desserts are £5.50 each.
Little Dudley House is an enjoyable place to feast on simple, hearty food handled adeptly. The wine list is absolutely terrific and the atmosphere is convivial and warm. If you find yourself in the area, I would certainly recommend it. Dorking is about 50 mins by train from London Waterloo (or slightly longer from London Victoria) and is minutes away from Denbies, the UK's largest vineyard.
A 3 course meal will cost around £25-£35 plus drinks and service.
Little Dudley House,77 South Street, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 2IU
Greedy Diva was a guest of Little Dudley House.