Next time you meet friends in the pub, make it this one. There are cracking views over the Thames, rooms if you fancy an overnighter, and great gastropub food too.
THE LOWDOWN / LOCATION
The pursuit of the perfect gastropub is one of my favourite weekend sports. And when I find a pub in Surrey with stunning water views, I know I’m onto a winner.
The Bridge sits on the Thames in Chertsey, and aside from the water views, it ticks a lot of boxes. Firstly, it’s a mere 15 minutes drive to Heathrow Airport – so if you’re looking for an overnighter before (or after) a trip away, this would totally fit the bill.
Secondly, there’s a great seasonal menu, a pretty decent wine menu and wonderful views, plus plenty of space to park the car in a double story carpark right next door.
And The Bridge regularly holds events including live music, wine tastings and quiz nights. A full list is here, but one event that promises to be great is the All Things Rosé wine tasting on Thurs 1 Aug. As well as tasting a range of wines from Berkmann wines, there will be a one-off summer tapas menu inspired by the rosé wines and prepared by Head Chef and 2012 Master Chef semi-finalist Karl Byron.
It’s a bit of a tardis inside – with four different dining areas, a conservatory plus a lovely outdoor terrace. There’s a rustic quality, with flagstone flooring through most of the pub that meld into a simple dark timber floorboards.
The decor is a wonderful mix of squishy soft sofas – in vintage leather, velvet, tartan and stripes – and tables with a hodge podge of different style chairs. There’s no doubt it’s been artfully put together to look like it’s been casually thrown together – and the result is a wonderfully welcoming and comfortable scheme.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The menu is strongly focussed on meat – with even the fish dishes coming with lashings of bacon. My dinner guest was a fellow Aussie, and the daughter of a former butcher – so she’s used to top class cuts of meats. And she was impressed with offerings.
I’m not a massive carnivore, so for my starer I went for the fiery prawn cocktail with avocado, chilli, lime and coriander and my Aussie mate went for the Angus salt beef fritter with stout gravy and horseradish. My prawn cocktail was light and fresh, with a lovely Marie Rose sauce. My friend was impressed with her beef fritter, and said the gravy was particularly good.
Moving onto mains, I went for the vegan beetroot and barley arancini with spring vegetables, parsley and tomato sauce. My friend chose the BBQ pork belly with spiced potato wedges, celeriac apple and walnut slaw, and coriander and lime. We were both very happy with our choices – though I did have a little food envy. We enjoyed a lovely bottle of rosé wine, recommended by our waitress.
Puds were a bit of a no brainer – double chocolate and Guinness mousse for me, and the sticky toffee pudding (with salted caramel ice-cream) for my friend. Both were lovely.
There are 47 rooms at The Bridge – and as well as being close to Heathrow, you’re also close to Thorpe Park (seven minutes by car) and Chessington World of Adventures (20 minutes’ drive) – so it’s a pretty good spot for family trips away.
I went on a Thursday evening and there was a good mix of couples, families and groups of friends. The menu is pretty kid-friendly, with things like burgers, fish and chips, and sausage and mash on the main grown-ups menu. There are also mussels, which my kids are a big fan of!
OUT & ABOUT
You’ve got the whole world at your feet here – thanks to Heathrow. But if you want to keep you feet on the ground (or pretty much on the ground) – Thorpe Park is less than 10 mins away by car. Chessington is 20 mins away. But to be honest, I’d just pull up a pew overlooking the river, order a nice bottle of rosé wine and sit back and watch the baby ducks and swans float on past.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Hearty dining with great river views and a friendly local vibe plus swish bedrooms, should you want to roll straight to bed after dinner. The Bridge is centrally located, with plenty of parking, so it’s a great place to meet friends, stay over before or after a holiday, or head out for a luxuriously laidback meal.
Not for: If it’s silver service you’re after, this isn’t the place for you.
The damage: Starters £6-£9; Mains £11-£24; Puddings £6.
The Bridge, Bridge Road, Chertsey, Surrey, KT16 8JZ. Tel: 01932 565644