Newest Review: ... were a large number of somewhat mature diners in the restaurant, but that possibly reflects both the area and the early hour for lunch. T... more
The Blithe Horticulturist
The Jolly Farmers (Betchworth, Surrey)
Member Name: mattygroves10
The Jolly Farmers (Betchworth, Surrey)
Date: 21/08/09, updated on 21/08/09 (82 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent food, reasonably priced, interesting decor
Disadvantages: Very modern on the inside, only two real ales
When looking for a country pub, I usually seek at the small, local, traditional variety. The Jolly Farmer's in Betchworth, Surrey (nearish Dorking) is not of that ilk, but it is, nevertheless, a good find.
From the road, this looks to be a large, modern pub, almost ala Weatherspoons. There are lots of signs outside advertising it as a 'food emporium', there is a big(ish) car park - two things that worry me slightly when looking for a country pub. However, that first impression is mistaken.
Going in through the front door, you can see a shop immediately in front of you, selling jams, jellies, chutneys, vegetables and other 'artisan' foods (including a scrumptious looking cheese counter). There is a small bar, on which sits some cakes and cupcakes, along with two hand pumps, a large shelf of wine behind, and the typical lager pumps. Near the windows at the front of the pub are some comfy chairs and a very comfy sofa, along with some high stools and matching tables. This bit, however, is a very small part of the establishment.
Delving further in, you realise that this 'pub' is more accurately described as a restaurant. Despite the traditional trappings in the front, the restaurant section (which is the bulk of the building) is modern, bright and airy - parts of it almost resembling a front room; this is probably due to the seemingly domestic beige carpet. There are light coloured modern(ish) art paintings on the walls, all of which are for sale. The chairs are high backed and comfortable, and the tables are a decent distance apart.
When I was there with a colleague on a weekday lunchtime, the clientèle were ... mature ... this is likely to be a result of a combination of the time of day, the location and the day of the week. I would also guess the restaurant has a local reputation (a good one!)
The staff were mostly uni students (I saw a memo when I went to pay asking the staff to let them know when they were going back to uni), and friendly and efficient. We received menus very quickly, and our drinks' order was taken quickly (two pints of Summer Ale - very refreshing they were too), and when they took a few minutes to arrive, we were kept informed as to the progress (at one point they had to change the barrel).
The food is mostly sourced locally, and much of it is also available in the connected shop. We shared a ploughman's and a deli platter - truly, we could have shared either one and had plenty to eat. The cheese was strong and crumbly, the chutney tart and delicious, and the cured meats very tasty. Both platters also included wee little soft cheese stuffed peppers, artichoke hearts and tomatoes - again, these were lovely. We also (not realising the size of the portions) shared a plate of chips, which were utterly superb - hot, crispy outside and fluffy inside - perfect. Looking at the plates of the other diners, the hot food looked equally as tasty, and the portions equally as generous. I can see why this is a popular restaurant.
After eating (and we both left a fair amount of food), we took our pints into the shop and had a browse (though bought nothing), sat outside briefly (nice, but unremarkable garden, split into a drinking/smoking half and an eating section) - sadly, it was wasp season, so we soon decamped indoors to the comfy sofa near the front. The staff had no issue with us doing this, even with our pints in hand, and never pestered us to pay.
I settled the bill (just over £30 for both meals, two pints each and the chips), very full but happy. Whilst this isn't a typical 'drinking' boozer, it had an excellent restaurant, clean and spacious loos (at least for the ladies' - I can't speak for the mens') and friendly staff.
Recommended (as a restaurant - I wouldn't necessarily chose it just to have a quiet pint).
There is more information on the restaurant and shop here: http://www.food-emporium.co.uk/jollyfarmers/index. html
Summary: An excellent artisan restaurant, though not so much a pub