Opt for a staycation in Surrey or jump on the train or in a taxi thirty minutes outside of London and, trust me, your tummy will thank you for it. Having opened its doors only months before the country went into lockdown, The Drumming Snipe is back up and running and is proof that good food minus any entitlement is easy to find outside of Zone One.
With a large beer garden and patio, featuring a couple of quirky horse trailers, there’s more than enough outdoor seating to satisfy those minimising time in indoor spaces, as well as offering more tables for a high number of bookings – something from which the smaller spaces of central London restaurants suffer.
I always order snacks for the table (yet somehow they always make their way to sit right in front of me…) and the beef shin croquettes with truffle mayonnaise definitely did not disappoint. Oozing with meat, you most certainly get your bang for your buck here and with or without the truffle mayonnaise, they are a delightful start to the meal. The crispy Cornish squid had just enough tang to its taste with its salt and pepper flavour and chilli dipping sauce – however it could have been cooked a little longer for my liking.
The trick to eating well is going out for a meal with your family who will feel compelled to let you assist them with their orders and let you sample a bite or two (read, ten). The Jersey potato soup with spring onion comes in a glorious bright green and is the perfect warming appetiser as we move into the colder months. Brixham King scallops feature on the starters menu, in case you were fretting that leaving an obnoxious London postcode would mean any less fanciful dishes and ingredients. Served with truffled sweetcorn and garlic, these were up there with the croquettes. I believe the suffolk chicken, smoked ham and crayfish terrine was a dish enjoyed by the whole table as it was devoured almost entirely before it made its way round to me. There’s always one… Fresh, flavoursome and fruity, with its addition of celeriac, grape and apple salad.
“Everything you could want from a dish”
The mains menu offers a variety to choose from; there’s everything from gurnard with summer girolles to grilled peach with goat’s curd almonds but also the humble shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and burger plates for those who prefer the safer home comforts. Then comes to the specials. Considering three out of four at the table selected from this additional menu, I’d say it’s worth paying a bit of attention to. The pork chop with pork stew was met with a gasp and then silence, as mouthful after mouthful was greedily golloped up. The rib of beef comes on an impressive board, accompanied by bone marrow; triple-cooked chips and its own cast-iron bonus pot of beef stew. I’d advise going for the bar above your usual ‘doneness’ for steak as this medium was a little pinker than expected. An absolute feast, – that might make you temporarily comatose – these two will surely satisfy all meat-eaters out there. Advice: don’t order extra chips with these dishes – and that’s coming from someone who states fries as one of her love languages.
I chose from the à la carte menu and could not have been more pleased with my plaice swimming in shrimp butter sauce and smothered (in such a positive way) with samphire and shrimps. Everything you could want from a dish and it is one that I will definitely re-order upon my return to this friendly little gastropub.
Accompanying our mains came carrots and peas in chervil butter and Cornish new potatoes in seaweed butter. These butters are small but mighty and did their job perfectly, adding both flavour and complexity to these simple side dishes. I used to work in a restaurant where the mother of the owner would order miso soup and a bowl of rice upon each visit, without fail. She said if these two foundation dishes were done right, she could trust the rest of the menu. If they lacked in any way, it was likely the rest of the food would also be compromised. This has never resonated more with me than when I was eating these carrots, peas and potatoes. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever spent more time thinking about carrots, peas and potatoes, let alone writing about them.
“I’m a strong believer in the existence of a separate dessert stomach.”
I know, you’re thinking, how can she possible have room for dessert? Now I’m a strong believer in the existence of a separate dessert stomach. Not only this but I also truly believe that eating something sweet after a large and/or heavy meal can actually aid the digestion process. Im serious and not just looking for any way to justify dessert – although this is something I would absolutely do. Regardless, if you think I’m passing up my cheesecake or sticky toffee pud, you can think again. We did opt to share the gooseberry crumble, peach and almond tart with clotted cream and the sticky toffee pudding. My winner was the latter, with the honeycomb ice cream and butterscotch ginving it that little bit of an edge.
Yes, it’s a little bit of a trek from London but we also forget how long it takes us to move across London most of the time. Here, what you pay in cab or train fare you make up in fair prices, large portions and some pretty good pub-style grub.