The Dew Drop Inn in the Hurley Forest is run by Simon Bonwick and members of his family, Although Simon still oversees the kitchen and cooks at some services, since mid-2023 the cooking is mostly done by his son Charlie. The emphasis on high-grade ingredients and old-fashioned classical cooking is the same as when Simon was running The Crown at Burchetts Green nearby. Today we were offered a set menu.
Bread was made from scratch in the kitchen. It was fermented with yoghurt and apple and was served warm. These bread rolls had very good texture, and it is interesting that with just two cooks here they manage to make the bread, yet plenty of starred restaurants claim that this is impractical and buy their bread instead.
A cocktail glass contained white crab meat on a layer of avocado and a garnish of pink grapefruit segments. This is a classic flavour combination and worked very well, with the sharpness of the grapefruit balancing the natural sweetness of the crab. This was quite a simple dish, but the balance was spot on and this was an excellent start to the meal (15/20). Puy lentils bearnaise and celeriac paysanne was a quite hearty autumnal dish that had a mix of contrasting textures and was carefully seasoned (14/20).
Lamb rump Paloise was served with aubergine and chevre pencils and a rich Paloise sauce (essentially a Bearnaise sauce but with mint instead of tarragon) with carrots and greens served on the side. The lamb was cooked pink and had excellent flavour, and the sauce was really superb, a pool of glistening richness that was nicely balanced by the vegetables. The carrots had lovely flavour and turned out to be grown in an allotment of Simon’s father. I am not sure that the dish really needed the “pencils”, which were another quite rich element, but the sauce was really special (16/20).
Truckle Cheddar was served with fruitcake, and Epoisses cheese came with excellent home-made flapjacks. For dessert we had honey pudding, ice cream and custard, which was very enjoyable though perhaps not the lightest way to end a meal (14/20). At the end of the meal, I also had a chance to taste an off-menu item, a slice of lemon tart, that had lovely pastry and excellent balance. This was based on a Roux Brothers recipe and was gorgeous.
The service, led by India Bonwick, Simon’s daughter, was charming. The bill came to £65 per person, which was very fair considering the quality of the ingredients used and the amount of effort and skill in the kitchen. The lovely sauce with the lamb was an example of old-school classical cooking that you rarely see these days, where even many multi-starred restaurants save effort by buying in sauces. The Bonwick family have combined to construct a remarkably welcoming environment in this little pub, with serious cooking at a moderate price.
Further reviews: 06th Apr 2023