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The Black Horse

The newly refurbished Black Horse in Reigate is creating quite a stir locally, not least because of its Michelin starred ties.

THE LOWDOWN

The Black Horse is the newest gastro pub in stable of the White Brasserie Company pubs, little sisters to Brasserie Blanc, Raymond Blanc’s more accessible answer to his Oxfordshire restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

You’ll find the pub on West Street in Reigate, on the outer edge of the town heading towards Dorking – with a big well-lit carpark to the side and a mahoosive garden at the back.

THE VIBE

With the sun shining on a bright midweek lunchtime, the vibe is most certainly relaxed. The garden is part terraced leading to a large grassy area with picnic tables. The attention to detail is lovely; gorgeous woollen throw rugs draped over the backs of the chairs and large plaid cushions angled on the benches. Just outside the door is a large basket of blankets – the perfect way to extend the life of this garden as the cooler evenings draw in.

Inside, the pub has been refurbished in a style that fans of Whites Brasserie pubs will be familiar with. It’s contemporary and stylish. The windows in the two main dining rooms have been made bigger to make the most of the view on to the big garden space, and it creates a wonderfully light space.

If you’re familiar with the pub under its former owners, Time Well Spent, you’ll probably remember an large but faded dining space. Not any more! The refurb has resulted in sectioned-off areas creating zoned dining areas, which includes two small alcoves perfect for private parties or large family groups.

The bar areas now sports a shiny new polished timber bar, as well as a cosy snug with armchairs and lots of cushions. Happily the original slate tiled floor is still in place in the bar, and the oak timber floor flows throughout the rest of the pub.

SCOFF & QUAFF

The builders finished up only four weeks ago, but I legged it down to quickly to see for myself. Food is seasonal al la carte and like Le Manoir and the Brasserie Blanc restaurants, The Black Horse is staying close to the French influences of their Michelin starred part owner. There’s a mix of traditional French classics (moules marinière, snails, bouillabaisse and a good selection of steaks) and British favourites (Cornish beef burger, gammon steak, pie of the week). I love fish, and there is a good choice here, from rock lobster through to Icelandic hake.

To start, I chose the British rope-grown mussels steamed with marinière and they were perfectly done – not too creamy, and not too garlicky but with plenty of saucy juice. Tracy, who’s also part of the Muddy Surrey team, went for the Scottish salmon gravadlax, with dill, Dijon mustard, cucumber and lemon crème fraîche. She was very happy with her choice.

For mains I stuck with fish, and manager Danny Wratten Sanchez’s recommendation of salmon and crab fishcake with chilli and ginger, lime mayonnaise and a green papaya salad. Thank you Danny – it was a good choice. Tracy went for the chicken and green papaya salad, with mixed leaves, coriander, mint, cashews and a Thai dressing. She said it was the perfect choice on a warm summer’s day.

Both meals were washed down with a crisp New Zealand Sauv Blanc, and I finished with the zesty baked lemon tart, which was light and lemony – exactly as it should be.

KID-FRIENDLY?

The big garden and off-street parking makes this place pretty ideal for kids. There’s a more formal terraced dining area which leads to a larger grassed area with picnic tables. Inside those sectioned off areas make it a pretty good proposition for families or groups of families. One area can seat about 20 – the other about half that.

For younger children there’s a kids’ menu with typical kids’ fare like mac n cheese and mini burgers, and for older children they offer a half price-half portions on some of the items on the main menu.

OUT & ABOUT

Reigate is a lovely town with a great choice of independent shops. Priory Park is a large open space with a fab kids’ playground with sand and water features and a huge timber ship, skateboarding park, tennis courts, fields, woodlands and a lake. Reigate Hill and Gatton Park is just a short drive away with plenty of walking options.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Families, girly lunches, couples, groups, special occasions are all perfect here.

Not for: This is great gastropub food, but those looking for a more starchy experience might want to head elsewhere.

The damage: Good value for what you get. Starters between £6-8.50; mains from £12 for gammon steak through to £21.50 for slow-cooked shoulder and leg of roast suckling pig; sides are between £3.10-£4, and puds and cheese are from £4.50-£7.60.

The Black Horse, 93 West Street, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 9JZ. theblackhorsereigate.com

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