Restaurant Review – Little Dudley House, Dorking, Surrey Hills

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Restaurant Review – Little Dudley House, Dorking, Surrey Hills by Rachel Quigley

As much as I love the city, it’s always great to venture into the countryside for an evening. And whereas Little Dudley House is a bit further than I am usually willing to travel just for dinner, the location, service and ambiance were certainly worth it.

Perfectly nestled in the rolling Surrey Hills just shy of Dorking town centre, it is a perfect location – certainly in the suburbs but not isolated enough you feel cut off from civilisation. And very easy to find. 

Myself and my dining partner – let’s call her Red – were warmly greeted at the door and given the option to sit on the terrace. It was a warm summer’s night with a light breeze so was a perfect option. You can opt to sit in the dining room which is warm and romantic yet simple and modern looking, achieved by teaming its original oak timbers with 21st century furniture.

Dining in the conservatory is another option and because it is entirely made of glass you can enjoy dining under the stars without venturing outside. All modern and tastefully decorated without any fuss. And everything is pristinely clean, including the bathrooms.The look LDH seems to be going for is rustic with a hint of luxury and the menu certainly reflects this


Little Dudley House

With items such as fish and chips and fish finger sandwiches teamed with whole baked lobster and dressed Devon crab, it offered everything to suit both the simplest and most sophisticated of palettes. We were handed an extensive list of over 20 cocktails but were assured that the capable bartender could rustle up anything we liked.  The wine list had more than 70 different wines as well as a selection of sparkling, all easily divided to search for your preferred type.We started off with a crisp, cool glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc which was professionally poured by Jack – who assured me he wasn’t a waiter but the events manager and seemed to oversee the smooth running of the evening as well as ensuring I was catered for. 

Flattered as I was to accept the VIP treatment it is sometimes better to go to restaurants anonymously to ensure you get the same treatment as everyone else. But I needn’t have worried – as I looked at the surrounding tables every diner’s whim seemed to be catered to and several different staff came over throughout the evening to top up our drinks and make sure everything was OK, as they did with every table.

The starters arrived quickly and Red’s crayfish cocktail was beautifully served in a glass shell-like bowl with dicings of salad and just enough fish to make it a generous but not filling starter. My salmon cakes had the perfect garnish and were deliciously infused with dill which perfectly brought out the flavour of the fish. They were the right size so as not to spoil the main event and our empty plates were taken away promptly. 

The main course is the only real complaint myself and Red had. LDH has the novelty idea of serving certain dishes on wooden boards which I felt gave it a more gastro pub feel which was not in tune with everything else. It lacked garnish – especially the steak – and as my mother always says, hot food should never be served on cold plates. And that goes for wooden boards as well.  But I had a look at the other diners and depending on what you ordered most of the other dishes were beautifully garnished on a (hopefully) hot plate. Though I imagine serving their plum tomato and courgette risotto on a wooden board was out of the question. 

Little Dudley House


My hand baked lobster was juicy, succulent and meaty without any of that fiddling about with claws and shells that takes away from the pleasure of eating shell fish – you should never have to wrestle with your dinner before you eat it. The taste was complimented with a garlic butter which also went very well with the chips.  Red said her fillet steak was a bit dry, though she did ask for it well done – a crime on to itself – but it was a good size with not a hint of fat on it and the pepper sauce was creamy with a kick.

 The portion sizes were generous but again the whole thing lacked in presentation.And the chips – my kingdom for a good chip. For something so simple why is it impossible to get good chips in any restaurant? I think chefs seem to think they are so simple they don’t need special attention but believe me they do.  The menu said hand cut – we both expected thick, homemade-style chips that you can actually tell are made from potato, but what we actually got was the French frie’s bigger, slightly fatter brother. I was disappointed and thought they were quite bitty – I prefer a small portion of long, thick chips than a large portion of small bitty chips. Red agreed.

We decided we could probably squeeze in dessert and something fabulous about Little Dudley House that a lot of restaurants make the mistake of is that our starters came out quickly, but there was enough time between courses to digest the food.I was positively stuffed after the main but the staff waited sufficient time between ordering and bringing out the next course to make sure I could finish it, it would have been a crime against cooking if I hadn’t. They were both absolutely exquisite.

I opted for the chocolate fondant and exchanged the Horlicks ice cream for caramel ripple. What I got was a warm, moist, chocolaty cake which oozed a bit of heaven when you broke into it. Completely melt-in-your mouth chocolate paradise with a slight undertone of something – I want to say almonds or amaretto liqueur but I can’t say for sure. Red had an almond cherry tart and swapped the cherry ice cream for strawberry. The pastry was perfect and there was just enough filling. The tart was also warm and served as a perfect accompaniment to the ice cream.

The evening was rounded off with a perfect coffee and as darkness fell, the attentive staff lit night lanterns and candles making it a fabulous evening to sit on their terrace while enjoying the weather and ambiance.  Perfect for a romantic dinner, small party, drinks and a quick bite with friends or even an outing for the family and all of these seemed to be enjoying the fine wine and food making it very busy (but not too much) for a Monday evening. It is obviously a very popular place and for very good reason.

I shall definitely be swapping my Soho sushi house for Little Dudley House in the not-too-distant future. Prices are quite reasonable depending on what you order but there is an array of prices on both the food and wine menus.

Children can also eat free on a Saturday and Sunday with every adult main booked


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