Muddy eats: The Rambler’s Rest, Coulsdon
Tis true that Muddy has a terrible weakness for a cosy gastropub on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But I also have a my list of requirements. Good food and a wood-burning stove are at the top of my list. A rural location helps. And if the pub welcomes dogs, then even better.
The Rambler’s Rest, just outside Coulsdon, ticks all these boxes – and more. There’s also a stonking great garden which is a gorgeous sun trap in the summer, and the nearby Chipstead Valley and Banstead Woods for working up an appetite. It’s not called the Rambler’s Rest for nothing. The area is great for dog-walking, and the pub welcomes dogs in all parts of the pub, except the restaurant.
The building feels Tudor (though that’s total guesswork on my part) with its low ceilings, dark oak beams, higgledy-piggledy flow and open fires. There are several eating ‘areas’ that kind of flow into each other in the pub, keeping the feel intimate and buzzy. There’s a cosy restaurant area at one end, and a large bar area in the middle, that leads to the other dining areas as well as out to the courtyard garden.
I’ve been several times – with a group of girlfriends for a sneaky midweek girly lunch, with Mr Muddy and the mini Muddies, and with a large group in one of the areas that is set away from the main bar to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. Each time I’ve had a different experience. And each has been very good.
My most recent trip was for the friend’s birthday. The birthday girl had pre-ordered feasting plates for each table to share before our main. We ordered our mains from a pre-arranged set menu and it was an easy choice for me: seabass. And this was lovely. A friend went for the roast chicken with sweet potato fries, which she, too, was happy with.
The Sunday roasts have a good reputation here, and from previous visits I can vouch for this. They’re served all day, and all the meat roasts are served with gorgeous goose-fat roast potatoes. Mmmmmm! There are the usual roast options: beef, pork, chicken, lamb and a fig and dolcelatte nut roast.
As well as the popular Sunday lunches, the pub gets it right in all the other areas: nibbles and sharing plates, salads, pizzas, and all the classics like fish and chips, burgers, and the steake, ale and portobellow mushroom pie. And plenty of ‘I fancy a change’ things too – from battered halloumi to slow-cooked pork belly with seared scallops. You can be sure the ingredients are going to be amazing and the cooking spot on.
It gets quite busy, so it’s probably a good idea to book in advance if you want to be sure of a table. In the winter, it’s fabulously cosy – and even better if you can nab a table by one of the open fires. So that’s yoru Sunday afternoon sorted – grab the dog, get the Hunters out and cosy up at the Rambler’s Rest after a walk.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Couples, families, groups of friends, Sunday lunchers, walkers, dogs are allowed in the bar.
Not for: Super-special occasions – it’s a lovely pub, but pub it is.
£££: Fairly standard gastro pub prices. Starters go from £4.95 for soup to £10.50 for scallops. Mains are from £12.50 for the fish and chips, £17.95 for pan-fried seabass up to £23.75 for the fillet steak. Sunday roasts are from £12.95 (for the nut and pork roasts) up to £17.25 for the lamb.