Two to Four–Hope for Surrey Dining

In the maddening swirl that is the week before Christmas I accepted an invitation to dinner at Dorking’s established Two to Four with my wife and grabbed a moment of self-indulgent calm before the festive storm.

On a wet Thursday night it appeared that many others had the same idea. The low beamed restaurant filled with families & friends downstairs and work colleagues in the upstairs private dining rooms all clinking glasses and laughing.

Surrey’s dining scene is better known for its gastropubs. The gastropub menus may be similar but they are well executed. So admittedly, my expectation of Two to Four was not enormous, but a sip of prosecco and glance at the menu suggested otherwise. It overwhelmed with choice.

We started with the chicken, apricot, smoked bacon and pistachio terrine and the foie gras wrapped with ham hock and spicy quince chutney. But we could have easily had the seared mackerel fillet with shaved fennel, potato and wholegrain mustard salad. We wavered over which bottle of wine to order in vain hope of pleasing each dish but the restaurant manager suggested wines by the glass instead. Less profit for her, better for us – a lovely touch.

The thick sliced terrine delivered packed a meaty punch. The ham hock, in contrast, was more delicate. Subtle yet enlivened with the chutney. The waitress, having sensed my earlier indecision, brought the mackerel too – a small taster portion that proved the chef knew how to create a balanced, flavour-packed dish.

A ten hour slow-cooked blade of beef served in bourguignon sauce with potato puree and thyme-roasted root vegetables, was a hearty and filling deconstruction of the French classic. The baked Brixham cod with roasted parsnips, beetroot and horseradish mash overpowered with its brittle mustard crust but the hidden fish was perfectly soft and translucent.

By this stage, there was only room left for a shared pudding. We plumped for the yoghurt & vanilla panna cotta with winter berry compote. It was more posset than panna cotta and didn’t benefit from depth of tart berries because it was fine on its own.

Since longstanding chef and restaurant manager took over the business from the previous owners, adding more locally sourced produce has been the only substantial change. Surrey makes a blue cheese, who knew?

Sadly, you may not get to try any of this because the menu changes frequently. But a reinvented menu is not why I’d go back. I’d return for the cooking. Each dish carefully thought out, tested and prepared by a chef who knows what he’s doing, though his penchant for mustard could be tempered. Fresh ideas and quality ingredients, cooked well at reasonable prices – more Surrey restaurants should try this.

This is a slightly longer version of the blog post that appeared on Surrey Life’s website.

Published by Brett

Brett is an experienced lawyer and business executive who focuses on commercial outcomes. He has worked across three sectors in England & Australia advising and leading initiatives in digital, media and technology

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