The Plough Inn
Have you discovered this rural pub with a gorgeous beer garden, boutique rooms and fabulous food? Oh, and did I mention it has its own microbrewery?
I love finding a brilliant pub that’s off the beaten track – the ones you’re unlikely to drive past unless you detour (or get lost). That’s the Plough Inn for you, a pretty pub in the heart of the tiny, idyllic village of Coldharbour deep in the Surrey Hills. It’s a few miles out of Dorking – but while it might be in a rural location it attracts people from all over. And with Leith Hill nearby it’s a really pretty part of Surrey to explore.
The pub was taken over by local couple Becky and John Hopper a few years ago, and they’ve restyled it to create a glorious village pub and boutique B&B with a barn for private events and its own microbrewery.
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.
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 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 & QUAFF
Okay, so the real reason I’d come here again is the food. It was seriously good, and I don’t say that lightly. I eaten here a few times now since Becky and John took over, and it’s always been 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 Friday – and after a romp up Leith Hill with the dogs – I was ready to devour the full three courses! I started with cockle fritters from the specials board, which were served with leaves from Secretts Farm Shop in Milford. Mr M also ordered from the specials, choosing the salmon terrine with gin and tonic jelly and juniper berry dressing. Both were brilliant choices.
We stuck with the specials for mains – the yellow Thai fish curry for me, and the crispy seabass with clams, mussels and tiger prawns for Mr M. I was struck by a moment of food envy when the plates were delivered – Mr M’s looked amazing – but it soon passed and I didn’t regret my Thai curry for one moment. It was full of flavour and delish.
For puds, it had to be the coffee crème brûlée, which came with a scoop of chocolate ice cream – times two. Perfecto!
If you fancy an overnighter, 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.
Yep. And dog-friendly 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.
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: Don’t know, really. It’s a great pub/restaurant in a great location. Nothing to complain about here.
The damage: Mid range. Starters £6-10; mains £13-20 and desserts around £8.
The Plough Inn, Coldharbour, nr Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6HD. Tel: 01306711 793. ploughinn.com