Newest Review: ... than eating. The view and atmosphere outside is lovely in the summer, how-ever this area does get very busy during the summer. The F... more
The Quays to a Great Lakeside Family Carvery
The Quays (Surrey)
Member Name: Hishyeness
The Quays (Surrey)
Advantages: Great views, excellent value, family friendly, welcoming
Disadvantages: Gets very busy and noisy at peak times. Good, but unspectacular food
With my recently graduated brother-in-law managing to secure his first proper job recently, the news that I was to join him in the ranks of the employed resulted in much rejoicing by my father-in-law, so much so, that he felt suitably inspired to treat the family to a Sunday lunch. Having previously visited The Quays for tea on a couple of occasions with my mother-in-law, he liked the look of the carvery and decided to take us all there for a slap up roast.
My previous experience of carveries has not been particularly memorable, usually consisting of some anaemic meat being pathetically hacked at by an equally pale, spotty and terminally bored teenager. As such, as a veteran of a fair few expensed lunches at the City's top tables, my expectations were not so much low as totally non-existent. However, my gastronomic snobbery does not extend as far as refusing a free lunch, so I kept my thoughts to myself and dutifully tagged along.
The Quays is located on Coleford Bridge Road, just off the A331 close to the village of Mytchett, and not far from the town of Camberley. Given its nondescript approach road, sprawling loose gravel car park and long and unassuming frontage, it's safe to say The Quays will not be winning any awards based solely on aesthetic appeal.
However, the vista changes immediately as you step through the main entrance into the building. The carvery is immediately on the left, the unfeasibly long bar is set off to the right, but bang in front, running the whole length of the building is the windowed view out over the lakefront. It's virtually impossible to sit anywhere in this establishment without a decent view. Having called ahead, we were advised that the restaurant had two "bookable" sittings for Sunday lunch - one at noon, with the other following on at 2pm (note however, that the carvery remains open on Sunday until 8:30pm if you prefer dining at a later hour).
Given church commitments later that afternoon, we opted for the earlier sitting and were shown to a table situated below the carvery with unimpeded views over the lake, which is actively used for sailing and a variety of water sports. There are plenty of tables with benches outside, but few takers given it was a blustery early Spring day. Our table was a fairly basic affair with an eclectic hotchpotch of variously styled chairs and benches.
SERVICE & ATMOSPHERE
We were greeted in short order by our young and friendly server and proffered menus. However, we had come specifically for the carvery, so we gave these the most cursory of glances before making a beeline for it. Although the dining room was sparsely populated when we first arrived, it wasn't long before it starting filling up with a steady stream of families, many with young children, out for a leisurely lunch. As such, a boisterous busy atmosphere began to develop, so if you are looking for quiet, sophisticated relaxation, you are unlikely to find it here, at least not for the Sunday service.
On warmer, more welcoming days, there is a small children's play area with enclosed trampoline to help keep the younger set occupied. Given it was a little too chilly to be outside, the kids' activity pack, which includes a small box of crayons and a dedicated children's menu, was a welcome distraction.
The decor is an eclectic mix of old and new, with slightly dated (but new - as in not threadbare) carpeting. The very long bar parallels the lakeside frontage and fits in well with the barn-like interior. There are several different types of seating areas to suit different tastes such as a secluded lounge, bar style high tables with stools, coffee shop settees with low tables and more traditional tables and chairs of various style and sizes.
Disappointingly, the walls are adorned with typically generic photographs and pictures, with nothing reflecting the local area or unique to The Quays itself. The place has a vaguely pub chain feel to it, so I wasn't surprised to learn that it does, in fact, belong to the Orchid group of pubs and restaurants.
The carvery has four available meats - roast pork, a gammon joint, roast beef and roast turkey - although these can vary from service to service (apparently, they sometimes have lamb or chicken instead). You are served two or three quite generous slices of meat and can opt for one type or smaller portions of two. You also get a selection of trimmings, consisting of a perfectly cooked super size Yorkshire pudding, Cumberland sausage and a stuffing ball.
While waiting in the modest queue, I was licking my chops as I saw my brother-in-law get three generous slices of medium rare beef and quite fancied the same, but when my turn came, the carver, resplendent in white apron and chef's hat, turned the beef joint on its side and much to my consternation served me up the very well done side bits. Fortunately, I wasn't bashful about my preferences and he cheerfully obliged with a slice of rarer meat.
On the other side of the carvery, there is a self-service buffet with a selection of vegetables, including sautéed sliced carrots, roast potatoes and parsnips, shredded red cabbage, minted new potatoes, steamed broccoli, and leeks in a cream and mustard sauce. There is also a variety of condiments on offer, including apple sauce, English mustard, creamed horseradish, mint sauce and two types of gravy (one with onion and one without).
The food, in general, was quite well cooked, but hardly spectacular. My beef, unsurprisingly for "end bits", was a little on the dry side, but the proper medium rare slice was decent enough. I had also opted for a slice of the gammon, which was slightly too salty, but otherwise quite succulent. My wife's turkey was moist but lacking a bit in flavour. Fortunately, and perhaps surprisingly for a chain pub, there were a number of real ales on tap, so I was pleased to be able to accompany my roast with an excellent pint of local Hogsback Ale.
After a great deal of thought (i.e. about five seconds) we decided to treat ourselves to a selection of the delicious sounding deserts. I weakly resolved to confine my calorific excesses to a sticky toffee pudding which I shared with my wife, served with a separate pot of custard. It was served piping hot with a moist base and a lovely rich and cloying sticky toffee topping. To be frank, the custard, although quite nice in its own right, was almost extraneous.
My wife also ordered a Belgian chocolate and West Country clotted cream tart with a mint crisp ice cream, ostensibly for our daughter, but it wasn't long before our spoons were making surreptitious sorties across the table for a bit of a taste. I asked for my pudding to be accompanied by double espresso, but it was a bit of a while before it arrived, and when it did it was lukewarm - fairly typical given the wide, open style coffee cup it was served in.
The Quays is a great place for family outings, especially for those with younger children, as given there are so many other families of a similar demographic, you don't feel quite as self-conscious when junior decides to get a bit vocal. There are plenty of high chairs available, and the cheerful staff are used to catering for, and interacting with children. Most tables have a view of the water, however, a select few, ours included are placed parallel to the lakefront, meaning half the table faces the lake, while the other half have their backs to it, which, given that the vista is such a large part of the appeal, is far from ideal.
As an aside, on my Hogsback and espresso induced trip to the Gents, I discovered clean and well kept facilities but with a couple of light bulbs missing, which made it unnecessarily dark. Incidentally, The Quays offers free Wi-Fi, just in case you fancy bringing your laptop or netbook, but I can't vouch for the quality of the connection given that my wife vetoed the idea of me reviewing the place while I was there...
It may sound like I am damning The Quays with faint praise, but that would be slightly unfair, especially given my penchant for gastronomic snobbery. The carvery food, atmosphere and service are perfectly adequate and overall, represent excellent value for money. They also offer a full pub menu, including the usual suspects like burgers, steaks, fish and chips, lamb shank, and various grills (see their comprehensive website for full details).
For a party of eight, my father-in-law paid a touch over £100, which included drinks, coffee and deserts for five of us, with the carvery coming in at £8.99 (£7.99 Monday to Saturday) for adults and £4.99 for kids. At that price, it seems churlish to complain. Given the pretty lakeside setting, I would be more than happy to drop in again if I were in the area, but The Quays doesn't, for me at least, have enough about it to justify making a special trip.
General Manager: Jenny Searle
Coleford Bridge Road
Surrey GU16 6DS
Monday to Saturday: Noon to 11pm (Carvery open Noon to 2:30pm and then 5:30pm to 8:30pm)
Sunday: Noon to 10:30pm (Carvery open Noon to 8:30pm)
Phone: 01252 372656
© Hishyeness 2010
Summary: A family friendly carvery with a view.