When a restaurant promises you’ll be served the best steak you’ve ever had, that’s a big claim.
There are hundreds of average places selling mediocre steak and chip combos, some bits of beef more akin to boot leather than anything else.
But when you get a really good steak, it can make a meal truly memorable, and that pub or restaurant instantly makes the shortlist of my favourite places to be.
At the Chequers Inn, Slaugham, the new owners are clearly passionate about giving customers the very best steaks. Their pub in Esher the Albert Arms is already a hit with discerning carnivores, and now they plan to replicate their success here, serving hand-picked cuts of best quality Longhorn beef, which they age themselves.
When we visited we were first struck by the light decor in the pub, with stripped back wood, spacious dining areas and a beautiful view from the conservatory across the garden and into the countryside beyond. Vases of fresh roses added a touch of simple elegance, and the artwork on the walls featuring food and drink made it clear that the focus here is on good, fresh produce.
Executive Chef Brett Duarte is obviously very passionate about his craft, and about ensuring excellence is consistent. After a chat with him about the steaks they serve, my mouth was watering and I couldn’t wait to try one.
But first came the starters. I opted for Warm Salad of Mushrooms, which delivered a satisfying combination of salty lardons and broken potatoes with the golden yolk of a softly poached egg dribbling down and the tang of pickled shallots.
Of course I had to also try a mouthful of the tempting dish selected by my companion - divine Pan Fried Scallops which sat beautifully among peas, bacon and baby gem with a lemon butter sauce.
Now our expectations were high for the steaks which followed. We had both gone for the Fillet - my companion had asked for the Chef’s Cut but our friendly waitress checked and returned to tell us the chef hadn’t been satisfied with the quality so it was not available. We took that as a very good sign - I would much prefer a dish to be taken off the menu if the chef isn’t happy it reaches their standards.
We chatted in the relaxing atmosphere while waiting for the main course to arrive, enjoying the surroundings.
When the dishes were brought out you could see that the beef is the star of the show - sitting splendidly in the centre of the plate accompanied only by the sauce boat. Side orders came separately, triple-cooked chips ready for dipping into the silky stilton sauce.
And did it deliver? It certainly did. Melt in the mouth, cooked to perfection, and perfectly complimented by the crispy chips. There were a host of other side orders on the menu which sounded delicious, I’m told the Truffled Mac-n-Cheese is one to try and the Whole Baked Cauliflower Cheese to share is also one I’d love to sample. But on this occasion I was content just to savour the succulent beef.
On the dessert menu I was pleased to see a good selection of cheeseboards alongside the home made sweets. My companion immediately chose a Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tart, which looked lovely with shiny chocolate and a generous peanut layer. I tried the Lemon Curd, Poached Rhubarb and Pomegranate Salad which looked too pretty to eat when it arrived at our table. Its fresh flavour and sharp edge was an ideal way to round off a delightful meal, served with a sweet dessert wine.
Overall we thought the prices were reasonable. The steaks themselves are more than you might pay in other restaurants, but this is one case where you definitely do get what you pay for, and it’s worth ever penny. So, was it the best steak dinner I’ve ever had? I think it probably was, and we are already planning to return with family and friends very soon.