This afternoon we landed from a week-long holiday in Berlin. Far from feeling refreshed, revitalised and relaxed, all the things we wanted from our quick trip away, we found ourselves sweaty, exhausted and completely fed up of people. Expecting to nip out, pick up a short list of supplies for dinner and retreat back into the solitary safety of home, we were surprised to find ourselves sitting at a table in Daylesford mere hours later.
How did this happen? I’m not too sure. Maybe it was the clean and bright but not hospital-like interior, full of warm light woods and candles. Perhaps it was the deli spread of cheese, meat, bread, pastries and potted products that tempted us inside. I’m betting it was the endless empty tables and bar stools that sold the restaurant; the lonely comfort we sought had been found.
Daylesford is an organic farm in Gloucestershire with four restaurants in the UK, one in Japan, food available via Ocado and a concession stand in Selfridges. The latest addition to their roster is in Esher, which opened its doors less than a month ago, bravely making a stand against neighbours Carluccio’s and Zizzi’s, those tired high street chains.
The first glitch was that the bar was one lime short of a mojito. Yes, really. If only we had picked up a lime in our shopping, we would gladly have handed it over. Alas it was not to be, so we settled for a Daylesford Cup – crushed strawberries, a twist of lime and prosecco, which made for a light and refreshing summer drink. Speaking of which, the cucumber and mint in the carafe of tap water gave it a juicy and zesty edge.
Both Friends went for the burger trio which, judging from the tables of those around us, was the most popular dish. Technically sliders, these little cuties were lamb & mint, Aberdeen Angus beef and chicken & sage. What the minimalist menu neglected to mention was that the Aberdeen Angus came with melted cheese, which lactose-intolerant Friend had to pick off – perhaps she should have mentioned it upon ordering, but shouldn’t the menu be nice and clear?
I had the brown shrimp chili linguine which, as the menu didn’t mention, came with cherry tomatoes, courgettes, rocket and parmesan shavings. Lucky that I really like all these ingredients, which complemented each other and added a sweet edge to the warm-but-not-hot-spicy chili. In short, this was a very yummy dish.
We got a side order of fries – a bit steep at £3.50, but I’m in a farm restaurant in Surrey, what do I expect? – which were crispy, hot and moreish. All our food arrived within fifteen minutes of ordering and was piping hot; this would have been a little more impressive were we not the only people in the restaurant at the time of ordering. I’ll have to come back during lunch rush hour.
The staff were mostly female and very young, giving the whole place a laid-back, chilled vibe. The bathroom – or ‘loos’ as the door called it, how delightfully British – smelt like heaven thanks to the Daylesford toiletries scattered around and transported me to a Scandinavian spa. Our meal was a little on the pricey side but the food was good quality and tasty – our meal ended with three empty plates. The place is a breath of fresh air to an otherwise stagnant high street. We’ll be back to try the coffee, mini lemon meringue pies, bakewell tarts and, well, the list goes on.
Daylesford, 48 High Street, Esher, Surrey, KT10 9QY. See their website for other locations and information.