The Bel & The Dragon country inn group is synonymous with the Home Counties and now has operates across 5 locations in Reading, Godalming, Windsor, Cookham and more recently, Churt in the heart of the Surrey Hills.
Bel & The Dragon Churt has occupied a fantastic building and finally sprinkled the right amount of fairy dust to make this place the roaring success it deserves to be – a succession of country hotel companies have struggled to make the best of it for years now. But lucky for this local community, it appears that Bel & The Dragon has saved the day by introducing good food, friendly staff and creating a relaxed environment. The management has given the place a much needed facelift, introducing more natural light, soft pastel colours and shabby chic feel throughout. All 14 bedrooms have been totally refitted too.
Lucky for us Churt is 5 minutes down the road and having previously dined in 2 of the group`s other restaurants and thoroughly enjoyed it, we decided to go check it out and share our experience.
There are 3 great dining spaces to mention; the bar, the restaurant and the garden, which is soon to open and promises to be one of the finest pub gardens in Surrey, with its new outdoor pizza oven – can`t wait for that!
The bar is the perfect place to start the evening off with a few cocktails, some local real ales or perhaps some champagne. A lighter bar food menu is available for both lunches and dinner should you prefer a quick bite to eat or if the restaurant is full.
During the refit the restaurant was extended to cater for more covers and this was clearly a wise move as the demand from the locals has been massive, in fact it`s hard to get a table these days, even during the week. The kitchen is now in full view of the restaurant, something that many diners quite like these days. There`s also a private dining room, which can be booked for special occasions at good notice.
Now to our culinary experience.
The menu changes seasonally and contains a healthy offering of hearty British favourites. Our starters were Shetland Mussels & Crusty Bread and Cider & Bacon Broth and Pink Peppercorn Squid with Chilli Jam. Presentation, taste and portion size was superb.
Our mains was Jack O`Shea Rib of Beef on the Bone with Violet Artichokes & Confit Garlic, with a couple of sides for good measure. Again, portion size, flavouring and presentation could not be faulted.
To complete the night`s feast was a Tarte Tatin. You simply can`t leave without trying this if you get the opportunity to dine here.
To sum up, I think it`s fair to say that we, and so it appears, the local community as a whole, are impressed and thankful that the building is finally back to its former glory and buzzing with a great atmosphere. The volume of smiley guests every night of the week proves this. The food is delicious and fairly priced when you consider quality, taste and surrounds – expect to pay around £40 per head for a 3 course meal.
This is definitely going to be our `pub of the summer`, especially with the installation of the new traditional pizza oven.
Something definitely well worth noting for local foodies is the monthly supper clubs that TBel & The Dragon run. They are incredibly good value at around £45pp, which includes half a bottle of fine wine also. See you there!
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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