Quality is the cornerstone of the Richard Onslow’s offering in Cranleigh.
It is pub with a great dining room which has always impressed the Restaurant Inspector.
Four years ago the village centre premises had been shut for six months before John Taylor injected a new life into the historic building, and helped by his co-owners Peach Pubs, he has created a real community asset.
However, the various events, special evenings and bed and breakfast offering, must not be allowed to detract from the simple truth that the Richard Onslow serves food of the finest quality.
It is not ‘fine dining’, but it is sophisticated pub grub, the ingredients of which would be snapped up by any chef worth his salt nationwide.
For example, John is proud to say one of his main suppliers, Aubrey Allen, provides the meat for half of the country’s Michelin starred restaurants.
Upon arriving at the Richard Onslow we received a warm and friendly reception from staff unaware of our visit.
We chose to sit in the corner of the large dining room which opens out from one of the two bars.
To be honest, the room looked a touch more tired than on previous visits, but the menu swiftly distracted us from being overly critical of the décor.
To start we selected Queen Scallops with Bacon and Butternut Squash Risotto (£7) from the specials board, and from the main menu Toulouse Sausage Cassoulet with Garlic Croutons (£7.45).
Both starters were wonderfully more-ish, warming and very satisfying.
The risotto had a generous number of mini scallops nestling on top, with crispy bacon bits adding salty crunches to the body of the dish, which also hid perfectly cooked cubes of flavoursome butternut squash.
The cassoulet was also excellent, the white bean French stew flavoured traditionally with tomato, carrots and onion providing a fresh base against which the salty Toulouse sausages could shine.
In true French style, homemade brown bread was used to wipe plates clean.
Next came the real showstopper, Shoulder of Cornish Lamb to Share, Red cabbage, Garlic & Thyme Roasted Roots & Baby Jackets, Rosemary Jus (£42).
Brought to the table all rested on a large slab of wood, it looked spectacular.
At £42 it is one of the more expensive dishes on the menu, even when divided by two, but for those who love tasty and tender lamb that falls off the bone it is worth every penny.
The dish could also easily serve a family with young children, or arguably three adults as well.
The meat was succulent yet the outside boasted a tangy crunch from the long roast.
Our enjoyment of the well flavoured vegetables with the lamb was made even more apparent when it was realised the condiments, including the favourite mint sauce, had been left neglected while the dish was devoured.
They were simply superfluous.
For dessert was served a Creme Brulee with Lemon Shortbread (£6), and a Valrhona Chocolate & Hazelnut Tart, with Clotted Cream (£6.50). Neither could be faulted.
The Richard Onslow is a bistro pub worth visiting as a dining destination.
Yet it also continues to serve as a community pub with a broad mix of events and special occasions for both regulars and visitors alike.
With a meticulous attention to quality, it has all the ingredients for success.
For more information visit www.therichardonslow.co.uk
Review by The Restaurant Inspector.
TO ENJOY A FREE MAIN COURSE AT THE RICHARD ONSLOW, USE THE 2 FOR 1 VOUCHER IN THIS WEEK’S COUNTY TIMES (17/10/13), ON PAGE 67.
Do you have a pub or restaurant you would like the Restaurant Inspector to review? Call 01043 751 233 and ask for the Restaurant Inspector