Review: The Plough Inn, Coldharbour
Muddy revisits this true foodie haven hidden away in the Surrey Hills - The Plough Inn is a rural retreat of a pub that's worth a detour.
There are some pubs you just know are going to be brilliant. I first reviewed The Plough Inn in Coldharbour two years ago when it had recently been taken over by a young couple who had refurbed and restyled it to create a glorious village pub and boutique B&B with a barn for private events. It also had its own microbrewery.
The creds were already screwed down then – great food, brilliant countryside walks nearby, boutique rooms for staying over, and local ales and beers on tap. It’s a pretty pub, in the heart of this small village tucked away deep in the Surrey Hills, about 15 minutes drive from Dorking.
Having undergone a major refurb, the decor is warm and stylish with a mix of stripped timber flooring and oversized flagstones, loads of cosy rugs, leather chairs, cushions and throws. There’s a fab beer garden out the back, as well as a separate barn which is perfect for private functions.
The barn is a brilliant space – cosy and snug in winter with a blazing log-burner and in sunny weather there are huge glass bi-fold doors that open onto a courtyard. You can hire the barn on its own or with the courtyard – or if you have a bigger event you can also hire the dining room of the pub which is just across the courtyard. And of course there are six boutique bedrooms upstairs, so you practically have exclusive use, although the bar section will still be available for locals.
The pub is popular with walkers, but also attracts people who come here for the great food. And of course, there are also the locals. And that’s what this pub does well – it managed to still feel very much like a local village pub, while also being a destination pub.
SCOFF AND QUAFF
The food here is seriously good, and I don’t say that lightly. I have eaten here a few times now since Becky took over, and it’s always consistently good.
The menus offer a selection of great gastropub food – from favourites like fish and chips and steaks to panfried skate wing and duck. As much as possible the ingredients are sourced locally.
My most recent visit was a Thursday evening, and despite it being quite possibly the wettest day of the year with flooding in the area, the pub was still busy.
For starter, I chose the Dirty Vicar and leek filo pastry parcel and Becky, my colleague, went for the one of the daily specials: the salt and pepper squid. Both came beautifully arranged, although I only stopped for a brief moment to admire the gorgeous plating before falling upon it ravenously. And the Dirty Vicar didn’t disappoint, as I suspected he wouldn’t.
As a pescatarian recently turned flexitarian, I was unable to resist the Surrey Farm 8oz ribeye steak, while Becky chose the home smoked Albury trout with king prawn pappardelle pasta with petit pois and courgettes. And that’s what’s so great about this menu – it’s so fresh and local. The steak didn’t disappoint, cooked medium rare as requested. It came resplendent with the gloriously chunky chips, grilled beef tomatoes, a Portobello mushroom and a baby watercress salad.
I had a tiny prong of envy when the trout turned up – being a big fan of fish – and the report from across the table was that it really was fantastically good. Duly noted for next time.
Despite a failure to finish our mains, we soldiered on to dessert – choosing to share the chocolate salted caramel tart which came with a side serving of caramel sauce. We had no trouble finishing this!
If you fancy staying overnight, there’s a choice of beautifully turned out boutique bedrooms – each named after parts of the local area. Read our review of the B&B here.
Oh yes, the kids would be welcome. And dogs too.
OUT & ABOUT
Leith Hill is not far, with a wooded walk to the gothic tower at the top which on a clear day has great views out over London to the north and the English Channel to the south. Denbies Wine Estate is also quite near, so you could make a day of it and stop off for a spot of wine tasting before lunch at The Plough Inn.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Couples looking for an escape weekend in an idyllic area; Sunday lunchers (or any lunch); dog walkers as the inn is super woof friendly; local drop-inners. There’s a lovely garden backing onto fields, and in the spring/summer the terrace will be an atmospheric place to hang out and it’s all on one level and child-friendly.
Not for: It’s a country pub tucked away in the countryside with great walks nearby. If you’re after something more formal, though I’d go elsewhere.
The damage: Mid range. Starters £6-10; mains £13-21 and desserts around £8.
The Plough Inn, Coldharbour, nr Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6HD. Tel: 01306711 793. ploughinn.com