GOLDER’S GREAT NIGHT: THE OLIVE TREE, SUTTON GREEN
The Gastropub. Across the nation, gleaming pints of Peroni are doled out by uniformed staff before we gleefully chow down on ‘Something to Share’ prior to gorging ourselves on ‘Pub Classics.’ The heavy burden of eating and drinking at this sacred institution and placing it in the Surrey gastropub pantheon falls to me. So, in order to balance out my effete, Surrey-boy tastebuds I brought along my mate; salt of the earth, man of the people Paul to evaluate the Olive Tree’s Proper Pub-ness.
I’m Sorry, Where? THE OLIVE TREE, SUTTON GREEN
The odds of you stumbling across the Olive Tree are admittedly low. Despite being slap bang in the middle between Guildford and Woking (taking only 12 minutes or so to drive to from each) it does feel a bit like a beacon of civilisation among the wooded wilderness of Sutton Green.
The pub fully leans into this however and there is ample parking onsite and even a dedicated bus stop.
Seriously, the public transport is surprisingly convenient. You can be in Guildford in under twenty minutes as late as 11pm on Fridays and there’s even a midnight bus on Saturdays. I’m all for promoting a pub that has such easy and cost-effective potential for night out escalation.
Getting the Basics Right
First things first, if you can’t get a decent pint at the Olive Tree (especially a well poured Guiness) then we might as well call it quits here.
Fortunately, the staff at the Olive Tree were more than capable of pouring a cracking Guinness as I was personally able to verify.
For those who don’t fancy a pint of the dark stuff, there’s a great lager lineup and selection of ales on tap. Personally, I like the recent inclusion of the controversial London lifeblood; Beavertown Brewery’s Neck Oil. On a hot sunny day though it’s hard to top a well-kept Peroni or Camden Hells Lager, both of which are on draught.
As for the ales, for me the headline act is Timothy Taylor’s Landlord with Hogback Tea coming in a close second. I’ll certainly be gravitating towards those once temperatures begin to drop.
This is to say nothing of the extensive whiskey lineup, which can even be accompanied with a cigar (I was unable to sample this time, as both the expenses account and my boss’s patience would be rapidly depleted once whiskey and cigars start appearing on my receipts).
The Main Course
What makes the Olive Tree a great gastropub, however, is of course the food.
Staying within our rigid class roles, I ordered the Crab Arancini to be followed by a Goan Prawn and Hake curry. Paul, clearly yearning for a return to the 70’s, went for a prawn salad starter and a steak and ale pie for the main course.
When I’m eating at a gastropub, I’m looking for big flavours, generous portions and the odd sprinkle of inspiration.
All the food certainly delivered on these points. My arancini came paired with a delicious harissa mayonnaise, whilst Paul was genuinely astonished and delighted at the number of prawns he got as his starter.
As for the mains, well, people who lament the quality of British food clearly haven’t eaten this pie of the day. The combination of a rich, flavoursome steak and ale pie, creamy mashed potatoes lathered in a thick, robust gravy and all washed down with a lovingly poured Guinness is really the peak of what a great gastropub should offer.
For me though, the Hake and Prawn curry is the only choice. It’s almost too good, as for me it now consigns the rest of the menu into oblivion. Aromatic and bursting with flavour, but also with enough heft to pair with even a stout or ale, for those wanting something a bit different out of a pub meal it’s a must. That’s to say nothing of the gorgeous hunk of soft flaky hake balanced on top of this absolute treat.
Finally, before I’m inevitably banned by every major counselling and psychological association from dispensing life advice; do yourself a favour and make sure you get their chips. The canyon carved into each one for maximum sauce absorption is a revelation.
I can’t tell you much about tasting menus or Michelin stars, about exclusive venues or fine dining. I can tell you however that if you like pub food done well, you owe it to yourself to give the Olive Tree a go.
To make a booking or see what’s on, visit www.theolivetreesuttongreen.co.uk