Muddy Eats: The Water’s Edge, Horsell
I’ve had my beady eye on The Water’s Edge at Horsell near Woking since it opened early this year. This new café on the site of Heather Farm, a wetlands centre on Horsell Common, is my idea of heaven. Its specialty is gorgeously simple food, made from organic, locally produced ingredients, served in a relaxed environment with a beautiful view right out the window. Yep. This is definitely one to remember folks.
The restaurant is run by Aneke Spacie, dubbed the ‘Michelin mum’ for her experience working in Michelin star restaurants. She’s a stylish lady with serious food creds peeps, having worked with some big names and in some of the best restaurants in the world, including with Rainer Becker at Zuma, Alan Bird at the Ivy, Alain Ducasse in New York, and my old pal, Mark Hix, restauranteur and columnist at The Independent.
And yet The Water’s Edge café is a million miles from the high-and-mighty exclusivity of those city restaurants. It’s set amid 17 acres of riverside meadows and wetlands, and you get to it down a track that winds through woods. To get to the cafe from the carpark, you have to cross a little bridge to pass over some of the wetlands. And if you’re dog owner, you’ll like this place even more, because there’s a 2.8km trail along the river Bourne where you can walk.
Aneke has styled the restaurant herself, and aside from having impeccable taste, she’s also thought of everything. There’s a corner for kids with toys and colouring books, a basket of blankets for those days when you want to sit outside but the weather is not quite warm enough. There are dog biscuits and water, for Mutley, and a basket of towels to dry him off.
For those with kids, Aneke has put together kits so they can go looking for tadpoles (or frogspawn) – so you can sit outside with your latte and cake, and watch as the kids teeter at the edge of the wetlands collecting all sorts of swampy goodies. It’s just so wholesome, and takes me back to my own childhood on the farm in Australia.
Which brings us nicely to the food. It’s a simple menu, but perfectly executed. Most of the food is produced on the farm, and what’s not, is sourced from local producers where possible.
The menu includes an all day brunch, using eggs from the free-range chickens on the farm, and an assortment of buttermilk pancakes. There’s also a choice of salads, homemade soup that comes with freshly homemade bread, and some options for those with bigger appetites, like the steamed burger with candied smoked bacon, a Prosecco-glazed breast of organic chicken (I told you this lady had style), slow-cooked pork belly, and a selection of sharing platters.
We arrived at 10am, so it was brunch all the way for us: smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on a bagel for me, the veggie WEdge breakfast for Mr Muds, and buttermilk pancakes (natch!) for the mudlets. Miss 9 topped hers with the Canadian maple syrup, while Mr 11-and-three-quarters – never one to hold back – had his with popping candy and some other confection that I can’t quite remember (chocolate drops, maybe?), and dollops of cream. Suffice to say, it went down a treat. All of it. The scrambled eggs were among the best I’ve ever had, Mr Muds was very pleased with his veggie breaky and, well, I think you can probably guess what the mudlets made of their pancakes.
I had coffee too – Americano with hot skimmed milk on the side – and it was the best coffee I’ve had in a long while. Silly as it sounds, it came exactly as I asked for it. But you’d be amazed at often I get cold milk on the side, or hot milk already in the coffee. *Sigh* I know, the problems of the middle classes, eh!
The cafe is open only during the day, although there is a private dining supper club in evening. Oh, and the cakes! I forgot to mention the cakes. That’s them below. There’s a huge selection, so if you just want some of the (fab) coffee and amazing cakes, this is your place. Whoever said that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, clearly hasn’t been in the vicinity as this lot! (I’m talking directly to you Kate.)
THE MUDDY VERICT
Good for: Families, groups, couples, people with dogs.
Not for: Those looking for a fine dining experience. This is a day-time cafe. I haven’t been to one of the supper clubs, but I suspect you may get a fine dining experience there.
£££: This is great food for the price. The pancakes were £4.50 (and portions are generous); the veggie WEdge breakfast was £7.50, and the non veggie version (with locally produced pork sausages) was £8. The bagel, eggs and salmon was £6. Salads are between £7 and £10. That chicken I mentioned, the one glazed in prosecco, that’s £9.50. A fillet of beef with sweet potato fries and salad was £11.50.