The Duke of Wellington in East Horsley has a long history of being a great village inn. First as The Greyhound in 1576, then remodelled in the 1840’s by Charles Bray, the architect of The Houses of Parliament who gave the pub its famous brick and flint work.
The Duke of Wellington reopened in spring 2017 following a refurbishment by new owners The Peach Company who have stayed true to the buildings rich history. The brickwork columns of the striking exterior have been repainted in their original black and green stripes and the distinctive arches with their terracotta tiles and friezes restored.
Warm colours, copper, brass, silver and polished wood have been used to transform the cosy interior into a comforting welcoming space. Rich cream and olive walls are teamed with English country pattern fabrics and deep brown button backed dining chairs in the restaurant, alongside period pieces making every seat one you want to sit on.
The most enticing of features have to be the two big open fires, one with a gleaming copper surround, armchairs upholstered in bold geometric fabric and rich brown leather. I love the exposed brick and the accessories that nod to the history of the building, pistols and shell case carriers from the Battle of Waterloo, a pair of hunter boots and 1830’s political cartoons of The Duke of Wellington.
There is an extensive drinks menu to please everyone with a good selection of wines by the glass and bottle, many of them world-class wines. Specialist ales and craft beers to tempt you. If you like cocktails I would recommend the Chambord or Kir Royale or the Peaches grand gin, your choice of gin and tonic, mixed in a grand coupe with plenty of ice, fruit and juniper berries.
To start I chose the Warm Crispy Camembert served with fig relish and rocket. A word of warning this starter is not for the lighter appetite, so only order if you are very hungry. A warm and comforting starter bursting with flavour and coated in delicate breadcrumbs. matched perfectly with the sweet fig relish.
My husband chose the vegetarian deli board for one from the pubs Christmas menu. Warm crispy camembert, mushroom pate, parsnip & cheddar croquettes, tomato chutney and warm pita bread which he polished off without any help from me. The selection of picky bits does draw you in and makes for an exciting festive starter. Both my husband and I really liked that you were able to mix and match from the pubs Christmas menu and main lunch menu as sometimes Christmas menus can feel a little restrictive and at times boring.
Fully aware that Peach pubs source all their meat from Aubrey Allen, the Queens butcher I chose the Christmas free range Worcester bronze turkey served with chipolatas, sage and onion stuffing, roast potatoes, cabbage, carrots and parsnips and cranberry sauce. Unlike other pub turkey dinners I have experienced in the past this Christmas dinner didn’t disappoint in any way and was as close to a home cooked turkey dinner as I think it’s possible for a pub to produce on a large scale.
The meat was beautifully tender with a deep buttery flavour that made every mouthful utterly joyous. My husband did admit to food envy after sampling some turkey himself. The roast potatoes were light and fluffy on the inside and perfectly crisp on the outside. The vegetables were cooked al dente which is how I like them to be and the chipolatas and stuffing were equally as tasty as the turkey. If you are looking for the perfect Christmas dinner in Surrey then look no further than The Duke of Wellington, East Horsley.
My husband opted for the Roast Sea Trout from the Christmas menu served with horseradish potato cake and caper and almond brown butter. With its festive pink hue the sea trout is a great alternative to turkey for non meat eaters this Christmas. My husband said that the trout was beautifully delicate and delicious and matched perfectly with the horseradish potato cake and almond brown butter.
Not holding back I chose the sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice-cream for dessert and my husband chose the very festive espresso martini iced parfait from the Christmas menu. Comforting and indulgent on a wintry saturday this sticky toffee pudding did not leave you disappointed as pub versions of the dessert often do. The sponge was moist and light and the caramelised sauce rich and moorish. However the star of the puddings was definitely my husbands espresso martini iced parfait.
When we chatted to head chef Nic Baba he explained that the espresso martini iced parfait was the most challenging dish to make out of all the dishes available on the menu. The quantities of alcohol and cream need to be exact otherwise the dessert will not set. It would be easy for the chef to be heavy handed with these flavours but the parfait was perfectly balanced and surprisingly light and refreshing. The perfect end to a christmas feast. Luxurious without being too rich.
Nic said ninety percent of everything used in the pubs dishes is British according to seasonality of produce. The kitchen team is large comprising of six chefs and two assistants because everything served is made on site apart from the bread and ice cream.
Nic’s favourite dishes from the pubs lunch menu included the winter salad. He said Clonakilty black pudding is the best around and is made up of the blood of both a pig and a sheep. Nic also recommended the oriental salad of pak choi, carrot, mooli and peanut salad and oriental dressing with the choice of adding chicken, hot-smoked salmon or grilled halloumi. He also added that Aubrey Allens lamb is the pubs best seller and is available on the Christmas menu.
All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to The Duke of Wellington in East Horsley and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the pub to friends or family. With a great ambience, friendly staff and top quality food I am sure The Duke of Wellington will soon become a become a first choice pub in Surrey. I can’t think of a more perfect Sunday than a walk at nearby Hatchlands National Trust Park then a visit to The Duke of Wellington for a delicious Sunday roast.