The Old Bell
Phone:- 01883 712181
It was a sunny, hot Saturday; and so Eva and I decided to take a trip out of town to Old Oxted, a village, only 20 minutes train ride away from Croydon.
I haven’t been to Oxted since my childhood, so we took pot luck with regard to our dining needs. Having visited a couple of hostelries, we were delighted to stumble across The Old Bell; a 15th century pub that serves traditional and modern English cuisine.
The pub is a traditional timber framed building dating back to the 15th century. Low ceilings with timber beams and columns are decorated with the usual knickknacks (hops, horse brasses, photos etc) accumulated over the centuries of use.
The restaurant and bar meld into one, so you can combine a trip to the pub with a meal (every Englishman’s dream!).
The menus are on chalkboards dotted around the walls.
There is a smoking and non smoking area, plus a garden. We were offered a choice of tables, and took one by the window.
The chairs were old fashioned highback “cottage” style, and were exceptionally comfortable.
The menu offers a staggering array of dishes including; pate, smoked salmon parcels, baked goat’s cheese, pies, fish, spinach and Roquefort tart, steaks, ham and eggs and vegetarian dishes.
I would venture one small suggestion; whilst the use of chalkboards is fine for specials, we found it to be a little inconvenient placing the entire menu on it. I would suggest that the “standard dishes” are detailed on menus (even if only photocopies) placed on the tables.
We were promptly and warmly greeted by one of the staff when we arrived, and were shown to a table. Once seated, the ordering system was explained to us.
You choose from the menus on the walls, then place your order at the bar; quoting the number attached to the candle stick on your table.
After that the service is as in any other restaurant; ie further orders for drinks, wine, desserts etc can be placed with a member of staff. All of whom we found to be cheerful and efficient.
I chose the warm chicken liver and bacon salad as a starter. This was very good, there was a generous portion of both liver and bacon tossed with a green salad and croutons. The liver was not overcooked, and was complemented by the bacon.
I chose the mixed grill for my main course, with a couple of fried eggs as an extra. The grill included; a lamb’s kidney, calves liver, a double lamb loin chop, a good sized portion of steak, a sausage and a slice of gammon. This was served with home-made chips.
The grill was professionally cooked, not burnt or dry. The meat was of good quality, although parts of the steak were a little chewy. A hearty meal for a hearty appetite!
Eva started with the smoked salmon parcel stuffed with crab. This was served with cherry tomatoes and beetroot. It was a good sized portion, the chef had not stinted on the crab stuffing. The combination of flavours was first class, and made an ideal starter.
Eva chose breaded pork with apple squares in a sage sauce for her main course. The combination of flavours was mouth-watering. The sauce was very “sagey” and was complemented by the flavour, and texture, of the cooked apple cubes; which in turn enhanced the flavour of the lean, tender pieces of pork in breadcrumbs. The pork had been cooked to a golden brown colour.
The dish came with new potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and courgettes; all cooked to perfection.
The bill, which included; a bottle of Chablis, two Irish coffees and brandy, came to £60 before service.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, and feel that it was exceptionally good value. Well worth a trip to Old Oxted. I recommend that you do the same.