“ Address: 60-62 The Street / Puttenham / Surrey / GU3 1AR / England „
Our work canteen has been going steadily downhill for the last couple of years. From the price hikes (soup went from 50p to over a pound), to the gradual erosion of choices (4 or 5 main meal choices have gone down to 2, and they always seem to have pig in them), the queue, once round to the end of the corridor on roast dinner Wednesdays, hardly exists anymore, and the seating area is full of people like me, who bring in their own food these days. They should have a Tupperware party here because I'm sure they'd make a fortune, judging by the amount of plastic containers I see there every day. I also hear they're making a record profit, which just goes to show customer service doesn't matter anymore to these greedy catering companies after a quick buck.
Anyway I digress; on a sunny Friday, myself and a couple of colleagues decided to get out and about and try one of the country pubs outside Guildford. I remembered The Good Intent in Puttenham from some years back, when the work culture was more conducive to lazy pub lunches on a Friday, rather than the must look busy at all costs exploitation that is more the norm these days.
THE GOOD INTENT
The Good Intent is a pub located just outside Guildford, in the village of Puttenham, down the A3 a little, just south of the Hogs Back. It was first mentioned in the 1861 census, but the building has earlier origins. The original design for the pictorial sign, which hangs outside the premises, was submitted by the artist, Mr G. E. Mackenney in 1976. It portrays Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) praying in his tent for victory for his Roundheads over the Cavalier army of Charles I, and pledging his good intent for the people of England if that prayer was answered. Good Intent perhaps, but didn't quite work out that way, did it? They could have called it The Cheerless Despot but I guess that isn't such a catchy name for a village pub. Reading from their website, they are proud to maintain it as a traditional local pub.
There is a focus on real ales here, with three regular hand pulled pints as well as guest ales. I noticed Theakston's Old Peculiar was slated as a future guest, which reminds me a lot of my student days. The pub has been featured in the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Good Beer guide for 20 consecutive years. This is a very impressive pedigree for a real ale drinking Northerner like myself, and further evidence that this is an unspoilt spot.
They've got a decent menu with mains choices such as homemade burgers and pies, scampi and lamb. They also have fish & chips and curry nights and Sunday lunch. Starters include breaded brie and smoked salmon. Desserts include sticky toffee pudding and apple crumble torte. The base seems to be traditional pub fare, with more cosmopolitan dishes thrown in. They even sell free range eggs!
The pub seems to be active in village life with lots of events on such as musical evenings, a cycling club, a quiz night and even a golfing society (well this is Surrey). A lot of information about the village is contained on their informative and fun to read website, as it's a good walking route.
I would class it as a pleasingly unspoilt country pub, which hasn't been gutted to make way for chrome fittings and poor value nouvelle cuisine, a fate that has been handed out to at least 3 pubs in the area I can think of (OK, since you're asking, The Jolly Farmer in town, now The Waysider, The Seahorse in Shalford and The White Hart in Wood Street Village).
As you enter, there is a menu board to the right, with the bar directly ahead of you and a dining area in a slightly lowered area to the left. The wooden parquet floor looked like it had been there for some time, along with the wooden tables and chairs, although that's not to say they were in bad condition, as they were anything but. One thing I liked was the place mats, which seemed to be glossy pictures taken from around the pub, such as the sign outside, as well as a slightly incongruous one of a pair of wellington boots. There were about 5 tables in the dining area, so not a huge part of the pub but it seemed about correct. The wall ledges near the top were lined with ash trays, and the lower part of the walls had several old pictures from the 1900s featuring Puttenham village and the pub, which I thought were nice. Behind our table on the wall was a dartboard, with a piano on the other corner. On the windowsill were some plants to add a bit of life, an effect perhaps broken up by the big loudspeakers on either side. I noted an area behind the corner of the bar marked as the "moan zone"; luckily, we didn't have discourse to take advantage of this facility.
When we arrived at about 12:40pm that Friday, it was pretty quiet, with a couple of people dotted around the bar and tables. We were actually the only ones in the dining area at that point. By the time we left at about 2pm it had filled up somewhat, so it seems like quite a popular spot where we chose out time well. Even at that point it was busy but pleasantly quiet; a very convivial atmosphere in my book.
Orders were taken at the bar, and we ambled over to a seat of our choice, seeing as the dining area was empty. We also tried a beer, Harvey's Sussex Best, that was brewed in Sussex but used local hops, which was good, clean tasting stuff. Apparently Puttenham has the last commercial hop garden in Surrey.
The food took about 10 minutes to arrive, so pretty prompt, which is good, 'cos I was flipping hungry. I plumped for the steak and ale pie with side vegetables and a choice of mash, chips or new potatoes, having been tempted by a gentleman's plate with it on. I went for the mash which he ordered as it looked quite superb. The portion was a more than decent size, a good triangle wedge of the pastry hiding a substantial portion of meat. Gravy and more meat surrounded the big plate, with a big dollop of mash covering just under half of it. The pie crust was excellent; firm enough not to crumble but soft and moist enough to cut without flaking too much, with a slightly fluffy texture. The rich gravy went well with the chunks of lean steak. One minor criticism would be that the gravy was a tad bitter; having made steak and ale pie myself I can attest to having difficulty with getting this right, balancing the ale bitterness with the sweetness of the meat. I would surmise that a little bit of sugar could have remedied this, but this is a very minor quibble that didn't detract from the quality of the meal. The fact that I comment on it all is actually testament to it being genuine home cooked fare and not some pre-packaged sanitised catering effort. It's real food with the same issues any home cook would have, which I actually find very reassuring. The mash was lovely and fluffy, with some little chunks of potato proving it was proper home made stuff.
Served on a large side dish were 4 decent size vegetable portions, nicely arranged. Five large Brussels sprouts were OK, but I'm not really a fan, mind you since I ate them all they must have been good. A huge piece of cauliflower was nice; not soggy at all, nice and slightly crisp. The same applies for my portion of carrots and broccoli. Perhaps these were steamed instead of boiled, but whatever they did clearly worked. This was one of the biggest side portions of vegetables I've seen in a pub lunch, but it wasn't just quantity, it was quality too.
So overall then, my dish was excellent, ticking all the boxes of taste, value for money and presentation.
One of my colleagues ordered the vegetarian option of ricotta tortellini in spinach, mushroom and cream sauce, topped with parmesan. He was a bit disappointed that it didn't come with bread, but this query led to some outstanding service. At no extra charge, a good portion of baguette with some butter was served to him for free. Now how often do you get that these days? These people appeared to really value their customers; I can't praise them enough for this ostensibly simple gesture. I am told the sauce was pleasantly creamy and the tortellini tasty. It certainly looked a treat from where I was sitting. And another decent portion to boot.
My other colleague had the homemade beefburger with bacon, cheese, salad and chips. Now this really was a monster portion, which he struggled to finish. A half plate of big, chunky chips was joined by a quarter of the plate of cucumber, onion, tomatoes, red peppers and lettuce. In the other corner was the unfeasibly thick burger in a white bun topped with a big slab of bacon. We reckoned the burger was an inch and a half thick. Apparently the whole caboodle was really tasty.
Overall, this was a very amiable experience that was well worth the drive. Which of course is easy for me to say as I didn't do the driving. At just under 9 quid for each dish, it isn't the cheapest option around, but you certainly get what you pay for, in terms of quality and portion size. In addition, they are resisting the erosion of proper pubs in favour of trendy bars which is to be commended. We need places like this as well as modern pubs. Highly recommended for those lazy pub lunches that barely exist anymore.
The Good Intent
60-62 The Street
Tel : 01483 810387
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website : http://www.thegoodintent-puttenham.co.uk/
A traditional village pub.