Pizza Hut? Check
Kebab shop? Check
Dodgy curry house? Check
Even dodgier Chinese takeaway? Check
Sound familiar? Probably because you’ll find these and many more soulless, generic restaurants down the high street of most London suburbs. Unless you live in the vicinity of central London, I’m afraid that this is the best that many of us can expect in terms of culinary treats. Take French food for example. Restaurants like Côte prove how popular and easy it can be, yet you’re more likely to find Gérard Depardieu appearing in Eastenders than you are a good French restaurant down an average high street. So I was quite excited to visit La Barbe, a French restaurant in the sleepy suburb of Reigate which has been around for near enough 30 years!
It’s a bit of a cliché, but the restaurant really does transport you into a little corner of France. The exposed brickwork, spindly wooden chairs and bright artwork create a homely and convivial atmosphere whilst the live accordion player adds a nice touch of Gallic charm to the restaurant.
In keeping with the style of the restaurant, the menu offers a range of classic provincial French dishes. My starters of Crispy filo pastry with fried king scallops was beautifully cooked and complemented by a sharp butter & lemon sauce. A little disappointing was Miss Pancake’s Salmon, which had apparently been marinated in a saffron & lemon juice, but resulted in a plate of fairly bland fish. Mains were a well cooked Rabbit in mustard with some lovely creamed spinach stuffed in pasta and a rich, rustic Lamb & tomato casserole which was a little too heavy on the sharp tomato sauce, but satisfying to mop up with some lovely baguette. We finished off the meal by sharing (yes I do share!) a light, buttery Apple tart.
With some good cooking, lovely service and sincere Gallic charm, it’s not hard to see why La Barbe has been around for so long!
Cuisine: Classic French
Dinner for 2 (excluding drinks): £60
71 Bell Street
Surrey, RH2 7AN
Tel: 01737 241966