The Clock House
High Street, Ripley, GU23 6AQ
The Clock House in Ripley (formerly Drake’s) is privately owned by Serina Drake, who has – together with head chef Fred Clapperton and the team – firmly put this renowned restaurant back on Surrey’s culinary map. It has received wide critical acclaim and was awarded a Michelin star in October 2017. The AA also wasted no time checking it out after the name change, immediately awarding it three AA rosettes. The gorgeous Georgian building in the centre of the High Street has been sympathetically restored over the years, and a stylish blend of contemporary touches complement original oak beams and Georgian features. Drinks can be enjoyed in the oak-panelled cocktail bar, which has recently been extended, or in the pretty walled garden when the weather permits. The restaurant is open from Wednesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, with a great-value set lunch menu from just £31 for two courses, or dinner from £50 for two courses. What’s more, a fabulous vegetarian menu is always available. For those wanting to linger longer over their lunch or dinner, Fred has devised a seven-course tasting menu, which showcases the team’s talent, creativity and passion and is available with matching wine for an unforgettable experience. The tasting menus are offered alongside the set menus, except on Saturday evenings when the seven-course tasting menu is the sole focus. On paper, Fred’s food may seem deceptively simple, but behind the scenes, hours and layers of preparation will have gone into each unique and beautifully presented plate. Menus may include the likes of chicken liver, cos lettuce and anchovy, and perhaps charred leeks, onion, thyme and horseradish – a delectable vegetarian starter. Menus change seasonally and the restaurant’s kitchen garden produces many of its own herbs and other produce. The eclectic wine list offers yet another voyage of discovery; the selection embraces small-scale producers – including many local English vineyards – and there is something to suit all tastes and budgets, along with a wide selection of wine by the glass. Service is relaxed yet highly professional, and far from stuffy.