The Rubbing House, Epsom Downs

We had been running errands around the old neighborhood all morning when suddenly, hunger struck.  It was a traumatic experience.  I was surrounded by places that I had grown up around but nothing looked quite how I remembered, or of it did, that was enough to put me off!  After a unreasonably long time, I had a light bulb moment…

A few months ago, probably around a bank holiday weekend, a bunch of my friends went to The Rubbing Horse up on Epsom Downs.  Not hugely remarkable until you realize that none of them are connected at all and I was just seeing random Instagram or Facebook posts.  I realized it was years since I had been up there and it was even longer since I had been to the Rubbing Horse.  For once my brain actually worked at the exact time it needed to and I remembered!  So off we trundled!

Thus named as it was the spot people used to rub down their horses after a ride across the Downs, way back when.

Thankfully Mum was with me and we has Doris (generic name for any SatNav type device or app) to guide us that last few corners!  When we got there it all came flooding back and we chuckled about how we could have needed help finding it.  It’s at the other end of the Grandstand to The Darby Arms.  Not difficult really!!  The Boy just shook his head unsurprised at my lack of navigational skills.

Beautiful in the summer.

In we went and were seated straight away.  The inside is nice and spacious – I couldn’t hear the conversation at the next table, and it had lovely tasteful Christmas decorations.  The staff had very jolly Christmas ties too!  Thankfully it wasn’t like Christmas puked multicolored tat everywhere and if there was any seasonal music I couldn’t hear it.  Half win and half sad about that!!

The really tough decisions started immediately.  The menu looked amazing.  How is a girl meant to chose between so many delicious sounding treats?!  Mostly with “eeny meeney miney moe” to be fair!

We settle on sharing three starters.  It was the only way that I could work out what to order.  Thankfully The Boy is always happy to have suggestions and so is Mummy!  My inner foodie always rejoices when I am out to dinner with them!

Highly recommended.

First choice which was more The Boy’s than mine was some very, very tasty cheesy garlic bread.  The bread was fluffy and soft, and it wasn’t overly greasy from the butter.  Also, it tasted like real garlic had been used rather than factory mass produced garlic flavour.  They didn’t scrimp on the cheese either which as you know, means an automatic pass from me!

Who doesn’t like squeaky cheese!?

Second choice, which was a nod to Mum’s taste, was the halloumi with sweet chili sauce.  Given I live in the Middle East you would think that I would be a little disappointed but faaaaaaaaaaaar from it.  This was one of the best halloumi dishes I have ever eaten.  It was simple but perfect.  Literally three slices of halloumi with some rocket in the middle of the plate, drizzled with sweet chilli sauce.  Amaze.  I should have had it all to myself  but that would mean I didn’t have a chance to try dish 3….

Retro goodness!

Number 3 was the winner for me.  Prawn and crayfish cocktail.  (I’m literally drooling again looking at the picture!!)  There was a little too much sauce for my preference, but the flavour of it was absolutely spot on.  Initially you got the sweet and creamy taste but there was a little kick that built up.  Possibly the best I have ever had.  The prawns and crayfish were meaty and moist while the lettuce stayed crispy.  Honestly, it was so good I was shocked.

I would head back for theses again.  I was so impressed.  I literally couldn’t fault anything.  Given the high standard of the starters, I was really excited for the main courses!

After a nice little break for digestion, our main courses arrived!

I have to admit at this point that I did not try Mum’s main.  She had a very pretty chicken, avocado and bacon salad.

She asked for the dressing on the side specifically.

She really enjoyed it and had nothing bad to say at all.

The Boy had fish and chips.  His standard order.  It was bloody huge!

Blugh to the peas!  I hate peas!

It wasn’t as good as it looked though sadly.  The fillets were really quite thin so combined with also thin (but tasty) beer batter, the was just really quite greasy.  Chips were fab as an aside.

Then mine.  I chose the steak burger.  I topped it with bacon, onion, mushroom and cheese.  A bit overkill maybe but I like toppings on my burgers!

Boo.

It looks great, right!  But that’s it.  It was not good at all.

The burger tasted like a cheap cut of meat, minced down to tiny bits, squashed together again with some force and then over cooked.  On the flip side, I thought the onions, mushrooms and bacon were under cooked.  The coleslaw was really bland which was disappointing.  Again, the chips were good.

I would recommend you avoid it.  I didn’t eat it past the first few bites.

When the waitress came to clear the plates I couldn’t be bothered to explain why so said it wasn’t a problem but that it just wasn’t to my taste.  You know some days you just don’t want to cause a scene?  That was how I felt.  She asked why I hadn’t told her when she did the table check.  Turns out that I hadn’t actually had a bite by that point because I was too busy trying The Boy’s fish and ordering Mum a glass of wine (because you have to corrupt a salad eater somehow!) to get into my dinner.

I was disappointed, especially after such a good set of starters.  But, I had chips so it wasn’t all lost.

By this point, I was done.  Where I have been so poorly recently my stomach had completely shrunk anyway so I didn’t have any room for desserts.

That is a partial little type white lie.  I had a bite of…

Why powdered sugar?!

The Raspberry Crème Brûlée that Mum ordered.  The sugar was a little burnt but the custardy goodness under it was divine! Shame about the lack of decoration.

And…

Round of applause for this over indulgence!!

The Eton Mess that The Boy ordered.  It was HUGE and delicious!  Top marks!

Despite my terrible burger, at this point, I would have gone back.  I love the setting, the food was generally good, and the atmosphere was lovely.  The bill was just under £100 so I didn’t think that was too bad either.

Then…

45 minutes after the initial charge for dinner had gone through, a further charge of 20% of the meal cost was put through.  We were back in Sussex by this point and had in no way agreed to any further charges.  We contacted the bank and upon their advice have not directly contacted The Rubbing Horse.

I don’t like fraud so will not be returning.  It’s a shame.

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