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The Onlsow Arms

We’re whoppingly blessed with pubs around here and here’s another corker – we’re hard-pushed to fault this place at all!

Where would we be without our pubs? Great for a can’t-be-bothered-to-cook Sunday lunch, girly get-together, a romantic night out, a relaxed gastro experience, or just a muddy-booter-at-the-end-of-a-dog walk. Here’s a new review for your delectation, a fantastic gastro pub that seems to tick almost every goddam box you may have.

The food being served by pubs these days is so often a notch above the traditional grub I remember, and at The Onslow Arms in West Clandon, it’s a notch up above that again.

This is a pub with a good reputation for food, the emphasis here is firmly on the restaurant side of the business. That said, there is something here for everyone. The building is a bit of a tardis – a trad country pub with hanging baskets and beams from the outside, but inside it’s a warren of spaces that seem to go on and on.

There’s a huge courtyard with some shelter and heating, and the most gorgeous collection of potted plants I’ve seen outside the RHS gardens at Wisley. This is certainly no container garden that’s been shoved into terracotta pots and left to it’s own devices. Someone (one of the owners, I’m told) spends time here tending these plants, and it shows.

Mr Muddy and I snuck off for a mudlet-free lunch while they were at school recently. We’d planned to take the muddy pooch, as there is five-mile circular iFootpath walk from the pub’s carpark that I was keen to try out, so I booked a table for two in the bar area, where dogs are welcomed. As it was, an earlier appointment got in the way and muddy mutley had to stay home, but when we were shown to our corner table by the window there was a fresh bowl of water waiting for her. Now that’s thoughtful.

I knew right then, that The Onlsow Arms was going to live up to it’s reputation. And I was right. It was a Friday and the pub – both the bar areas and the dining rooms – were bursting at the seams. The crowd was a mix of retired folk, business folk and people like Mr Muddy and I skiving off work on a Friday afternoon.

For starters we shared a salad of roasted butternut squash, broccoli, edamame beans, houmous and pomegranate. There are many days when this alone would suffice for my lunch. Today was not one of them. But it was a lovely fresh way to start out.

For mains it was a fish pie from the specials board for Mr Muddy and I ordered the sea bass with braised leeks, gnocchi, cavolo nero all sitting beautifully in a lobster bisque sauce. Both were perfectly executed, gorgeously presented and delicious.

Moving on to pud – it had to be done – I was rather taken by the ruby plum and almond tart which came with a spiced marscapone cream. One word. Three letters. Yum.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: A large family gathering, a weekend family lunch, dinner or lunch for two, a girly get-together, a Sunday afternoon pint al fresco in the summer. And definitely dog walkers.

Not for: I’m scratching my head to think of anyone who wouldn’t like it here. I guess if you’re a fan of starched white tablecloths and fine dining, it wouldn’t be an obvious choice.

£££: Starters and desserts are around £6-8 apiece, with mains £10-£22.50. Puddings are around £6.

The Onslow Arms, The Street, West Clandon, Surrey, GU4 7TE. Tel: 01483 222 447. onslowarmsclandon.co.uk

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Surrey