London House Restaurant has the longest waiting list in Woking! Owner and head chef Ben Piette took a brave plunge into the competitive world of restauranteurs in 2011 after travelling on a one way ticket from his home town, Frejus in the south of France. His restaurant has since been the talk of the town, and one of Surrey’s most popular jaunts.
As a proud Provencale girl myself, I was intrigued by Ben’s roots and his move from the vibrant Riviera to the rather less sunny outskirts of London. His menu relies on French recipes and techniques but certainly has a hint of British too.
He offers modern food with an emphasis on flavour and great produce. We were treated to our pick from the four course, a la carte menu with wine pairings chosen by our knowledgeable waiter.
After a round of wonderfully soft bread with sweet balsamic and olive oil, we were offered smoked salmon amuse-bouches, perfectly formed mini mouthfuls. Starters brought both the highest and lowest point to the meal: an exquisite winter squash veloute with basil parmesan butter and a bagful of seeds was perfectly flavoured and wonderfully smooth, but the potted duck with marinated duck skewer was diappointingly served cold and this made the taste suffer.
We both opted for meat mains next, though a fish course is available for hungrier diners. As the restaurant became busier the service a little slower and so our thoughtful waiter bought along two surprise bowls of cullen skink with duck egg molle, beignets and baby spinach. The mains were substantial and hearty, just what you need for winter. Roasted rump of hogget (an older lamb) and Pan seared fillet of beef with slowed cooked ox cheek. Both meats were well cooked, though could have perhaps been slightly rarer, if I’m being fussy. The hogget was accompanied by complementing carrot and celeriac (so good I would have appreciated a bit more of it), wilted baby gem and sweet balsamic jus. Less traditional, the beef arrived on a bed of lasagne pasta, far too filling but intriguing nonetheless.
After a shot glass of strawberry milkshake not dissimilar to fromage frais, our desserts arrived. Split into simple categories, we chose the Citrus and Treacle options from the list. The puddings at London House are perhaps the most experimental of the dishes. The Lemon tart came with meringues, poached clems, cranberry, pomegranate and shortbread, an interesting mix of flavours which I couldn’t quite decide on. The Treacle sponge was remarkably plain but did become exciting once garnished with the Armagnac clotted cream and pine nut croquante. Dark chocolate truffles and fresh mint tea were a lovely conclusion to the meal.
We were first to arrive and last to leave the restaurant on this particular Tuesday night, which just proves how much we enjoyed our time at London House. In the capital London House would have to fight hard for the top spot, but in Woking this little independent restaurant deserves the credit it receives.
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