Muddy eats: Garsons Restaurant, Esher
The Muddy blog was still but a gleam in my eye, when I sniffed out the opening of Garsons’ new restaurant in West End, Esher.
And not one to miss an opening, I ignored the freezing cold, fluffed up the hair, and headed out for a canapé (or three) and a glass of fizz.
Mr Muds had a prior engagement, so I was flying solo. Call me Muddy no mates! (I really was!)
If you’re local to Esher, you’ll know that Garsons is the 150-acre farm, garden centre, farm shop and pick-your-own farm shop. It’s the largest pick-your-own operation in the UK. It’s been in the same family – the Thompsons, not Garsons as I assumed – since 1871.
The new restaurant – an octagonal-ish shaped space with one hell of a chandelier and big glazed doors that will open in the warmer months – has finally birthed after after an 18-month refurbishment.
The design has been inspired by the market halls of the early 20th century, with a chunky white-painted steel framework. There’s a nice little link there too, as Garsons has a century-long legacy supplying London’s fruit and veg markets, with particularly strong ties to Borough Market at London Bridge.
The view across the pick-your-own fields, will be lovely I reckon (it was dark y’see on opening night!), and the menus take their inspiration from the food grown out those big windows, with fresh produce a massive feature. Well, it would be, right?
The menus are for lunch or breaky. Tapping into the red hot trend for smoothies is a make-your-own-smoothie bar (£2.95), but if (like me) you might go for something a little more, er, substantial, there’s grilled smokey bacon or Cumberland sausages from Bevan’s the local butcher, in bloomer bread (£3.95); or a classic eggs royale with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce (£6.95).
At lunch, there are sharers to tempt, including a pork platter, fish platter or veg platter (all £11.95); a range of options from the deli (bagels, wraps, focaccia and ciabatta (£5.95-£8.45), and kitchen classics from burgers (£8.95) to slow braised beef (£9.75) and macaroni cheese (£7.95).
There’s also a pretty cool kids’ menu for £4.95 with a choice of smoked haddock fishcakes, breaded chicken goujons, penne pasta with a fresh cherry tomato sauce and meatballs on spaghetti. I get a bit sniffy about children’s menus, what with all those basic chicken nuggets and bland pizza offerings, but this one ticks my boxes with it’s choice of home made food.
You can’t fault the prices here either, and from the samples I scoffed on opening night, this is bloody good nosh. This would make a great lunch or breaky venue. Add a bit of shopping or pick-your-own – the farm grows 34 crops with 76 varieties and the picking season is from May to October – and by-crikey you’re on to a winner.
No need to thank me *puffs out chest*, it’s what I do.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: This place will suit most people – those who want to combine shopping with lunch or afternoon tea, parents and children (there’s plenty of room for a buggy), girly get-togethers, and anyone who likes to know the provenance of their food.
Not for: This is probably not the place for you if it’s romance you’re after. You have to walk through the shopping centre to reach the restaurant, and it there’s not much in the way of intimate nooks.
£££: This is great value nosh, with almost everything under a tenner. The breakfasts are very reasonable – cafe prices. Deli fresh choices and sharing platters are £5.95 – £11.25, burgers £8.95 and salads are £6.95.
Garsons Restauant, Winterdown Road, West End, Esher, KT10 8LS, Tel: 01372 460198 garsons.co.uk