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The Godstone Hotel and Coach-House Restaurant

We visited on Thursday 14 January 2016. We will not be returning. The meal we had was not good enough in many respects.

There were hints from the start. We walked past the busy and vibrant eatery over the road and into the Coach-House with its one table of four diners. Asked about the menu, front of house had no idea how the Brie starter was cooked or served.

Never mind. We were here for dinner to celebrate an eighty-eighth anniversary and the birthday boy had picked our venue… best to hope for improvements after a shaky start.

The wait for food gave me time to inspect the surroundings and the cutlery. Both suffered from having been around far too long in their present state and gave out forlorn sighs of “Help, I'm jaded.” My knife and fork took me straight to a Seventies seaside Winter Garden with all its predictable tableware… the sort of trappings which are now found at car boot sales.

Starters were not a success. The Brie was in very firm slabs with little of the marinade flavour and uncooked. I do not understand this approach. It left out tastes and textures which were waiting to be revealed.

The fishcakes had a pleasant smoky something or other in them. The coating was crisp but they did not convince me as anything other than shop-bought. Soggy, over-dressed salad and a strange attempt at making a sauce from sun-dried tomatoes did little to relieve disappointment.

Main courses failed in like manner. All food was either under- or over-seasoned. The minty lamb and vegetable pie was really salty. Its puff pastry top was acceptable enough to be considered a comparative triumph.

Before arriving we had laid bets that the man of the moment would choose liver and bacon. He did and so did I. Gah! There was no finish to the meat and it had been left too long in the pan, reaching that state of unappetising graininess which should be avoided at all costs.

We were quietly unanimous in rejecting the idea that the kitchen might be able to produce a satisfactory dessert and asked for our bill.

If the food were better prices would not be unreasonable here. The wines have a pretty universal restaurant mark-up until you look at the top end which stretches the margins even higher.

The owner was on holiday. I can only hold a faint hope that he brings back something, anything, positive from Italy, home of one of the world's greatest cuisines.  Whether the usual chef or a substitute was cooking, he or she should be ashamed of allowing such poor efforts to be served.

Such a shame. There must be plenty of competition in this sector but, even if this particular corner of Surrey is saddled with mediocrity, it would surely be a matter of personal pride to try for excellence in some small way.

After the drive home, we enjoyed home-made marzipan fruits, coffee and Armagnac… and reflected that my step-father, now in his eighty-ninth year, can still cook liver perfectly - one of many things which the Coach-House, most disappointingly, cannot do.   

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