THE WESTERLY: HITTING THE HEIGHTS IN THE BURBS
From the outset, let me just say, this was my meal of the year to date.
It really was that good, almost flawless in fact and made all the more enjoyable because I had anticipated little and had to drag myself down to Reigate at the request of a friend in need of a dining companion.
A self styled “modern bistro” The Westerly sits on The London Road in Reigate where its owners, Jon & Cynthia Coombs have moved in the last three months.
I can honestly say that the meal we had here today was twice as good as anything I have tried in a similar vein in London, twice as good value for money and about half the level of cynicism.
The menu reads like a modern British foodie’s wet dream. Hats off to St John with a nod towards France and the greatest creation of Joel Robuchon. Home made piccalilli so good, it gave a bow towards Gary Rhodes in his pomp. End of season spring lamb, sweetbreads, calf’s liver. It was all there.
If I had to construct a last meal menu, much of this would be on it. All on offer for £19.50 for two courses and £22.50 for three.
My chum is getting a little carb conscious in his dotage and was put to the test by a large plate of bread fresh and steaming from the oven which just whelped out for some butter to be slathered over it. I was a true friend and did it on his behalf.
We ordered three starters. A Gazpacho was everything it should be with a fresh zing in the mouthuls I was allowed to try. It came with some tapenade topped crisp bread with slivers of sardine.
My starter was one of the best things I have eaten this year. A croquette of pigs head turned out to be a large disc of head meat fried perfectly in crumbs to a crisp coating which when punctured gave off a steamy aroma of pork. It came on a pool of sauce grebiche which was not, as is so often the case, short on cornichons and the sharpness cut through the fatty meat perfectly.
We shared a plate of pork rillettes with cornichons and chutney which came with more griddled bread. Delicious, but so rich we agreed they should set the table with a knife, fork and defibrillator to save time.
Main courses were, if anything, better still.
A plate of sweetbreads and medium cooked calf’s liver in sizeable chunks came topped with a mound of mash potato that was, as the god of pommes puree, Joel Robuchon has now decreed law, almost as much butter as potato. Again, my chum was being carb aware and tried not to hoover it all into his mouth. I helped as much as I could but was already facing a task to finish my rump of spring lamb with braised lettuce, peas and pancetta.
Accomplished cooking in both dishes exemplified by the sauces that had great depth but did not over power the main components. A rare balance these days.
With cooking that showed this attention to detail, you just knew puddings were going to be good and they were. An Amalfi lemon sorbet came in a pool of powerful limoncello and was a tad better that my own malt chocolate ice cream. Both were topped, however by some peanut cookies that crumbled at the slightest bite.
I was being good and avoided Mr booze. My chum dived into an unfeasibly large glass of Chabli but left it there and we both stuck to water after that.
I was being treated so did not see the bill but would guess that it came to about £60 including tip. Dinner would be closer to £75 for two.
With a £7.70 return to London Bridge, that still equates to less than a ton for cooking that is as good as anything I can recall in the 300 + posts on the blog so far.
It was pouring with rain when we left, but we didn’t care. A meal liked this restores ones faith in restaurants and, what’s more I still have that huge container of piccalilli to work my way through.
A result in Reigate. Who knew?