Review: The Plough Inn, Coldharbour
The Plough Inn in Coldharbour is one of the loveliest pubs in the Surrey Hills - and now with a new owner and a new chef (with Michelin connections), of course there's a brand new Muddy review. Pass the napkin, we're going in!
The Plough Inn in Coldharbour is one of the loveliest pubs in the Surrey Hills – and now with a new owner and a new chef (with Michelin connections), of course there’s a brand new Muddy review. Pass the napkin, we’re going in!
The Plough Inn is not new on the Muddy radar, we’ve been visitors here for several years. And no wonder – with great food, brilliant countryside walks nearby, boutique rooms for staying over, and local ales and beers on tap, there’s nothing at all to quibble about.
About a year ago, new owners moved in – bringing with them a new manager and chef (plus an incredibly gorgeous pub pooch called Raki).
It’s fairly typical for pubs to undergo a buff and shine when new owners come in. But you know, if it’s not broken don’t fix it – and so they didn’t.
The previous owners had done a stellar job or restyling what was then a tired pub to create a glorious village inn and boutique B&B. There’s also a barn for private events and a microwbrewery.
However, the kitchens have been sprinkled with a dash of Michelin fairy dust, with the arrival of Matthew Bishop who trained under Marco Pierre White and also worked as a head chef for Gordon Ramsay. Most recently he was head chef at Roast in Borough Market.
The decor is warm and stylish with a mix of stripped timber flooring and oversized flagstones, leather chairs, cushions and throws. There’s a fab beer garden out the back, and a separate barn which is perfect for private functions. And of course there are six boutique bedrooms upstairs.
The pub is popular with walkers and cyclist, but also attracts people who come here for the food. And of course, there are also the locals. And that’s what this pub does well – it has retained its village pub vibe, while also attracting visitors for far and wide.
Next door there’s The Shop at the Plough, which has become a favourite stopping-off point for the many cyclists that tackle these Surrey hills. The shop serves tea, coffee and fresh pastries, and sells a wonderful selection of local food. There’s also a bicycle repair kit for cyclists who are unfortunate enough to need it.
SCOFF & QUAFF
This is where The Plough Inn really stands out. The new chef has added finesse to presentation as well as boosting local and seasonal produce, original flavours and interesting textures for more of a gastro experience.
There’s clearly an intent on quality. But it’s all about doing traditional dishes really well, so fish and chips (£18.50), Sirloin steak (£30), burgers (beef burger £18 or black bean and sweet potato £16.50) and pot roasted lamb shank (£23). The menu changes about every six weeks.
I started with a beetroot carpaccio with blood orange and chicory salad served with toasted walnuts and a citrus vinaigrette (£8). It was light and fresh – and a perfect started for the follow up main of pot roasted lamb shank (more on that in a minute!).
Mr M chose the home cured trout with fennel jam, chicken skin and toasted soda bread – and very happy he was too. For mains, he chose the Aspalls Cider batter haddock with chips, crushed peas and a tartare sauce. I don’t often get excited about traditional fish and chips – but I did snaffle a taste of this, and it’s actually now ruined me for any other fried fish ever. It was that good – a super thin and incredibly thin batter, perfectly cooked fish inside. The crushed peas had a light herby taste and the chips were just right.
And now onto my own dish – the pot roasted lamb shank, which was served with pearl onions, peas, broad beans and chorizo. Rich and meaty, the lamb literally fell off the bone, and the chorizo and bean sauce was a lovely accompaniment.
There was absolutely no need for pudding after that. It was a heavy and filling meal for lunchtime – but, of course, that didn’t stop me. We’d intended to order one pudding to share, but we were instead talked into sharing a taster of two: the plough bread and butter pudding with chocolate (£7.50) and the Belgian chocolate brownie (£7.50). And yes, I can confirm, they’re a fabulous combination and the perfect way to round off a delightful meal.
If you fancy an overnighter, there’s a choice of beautifully turned out boutique bedrooms – each named after parts of the local area.
Yep. And dog-friendly too. I visited for midweek lunch, and the place was busy and buzzing with a mixture of families (schools were on their Easter break), couples and groups of friends – plus several pooches.
OUT & ABOUT
The Plough Inn is at the foot of Leith Hill, and there’s a beautiful 1.8 mile circular walk through woodland, heathland, and farmland that takes you to top of the hill and the majestic gothic Leith Hill Tower. On a clear day there are 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 or after lunch at the Plough.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Couples looking for a weekend or overnight escape; Sunday lunchers (or any lunch); walkers (the inn is super woof friendly); local drop-inners; and families. There’s a lovely garden and it’s all on one level and child-friendly.
Not for: With its charming and rustic interiors and out-of-the-way location, it’s probably not best suited to those looking for an uber hip and urban spot to dine.
The damage: Mid range. Starters £7.50-£8.50; mains £16-£30; and desserts around £7.50. There’s also a two courses for £24 or three courses for £29 offer which includes a glass of house red or white wine.
The Plough Inn, Abinger Lane, Coldharbour, nr Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6HD. Tel: 01306 711 793. ploughinn.com