The address – Old Church (Bridge Street, Godalming) was something of a giveaway as to what we were about to enter. Originally built as a church in the 1800s the building has been turned into an unusual and strikingly attractive restaurant, complete with beamed arched ceiling and stained glass windows – Bel & The Dragon.
On our left, as we entered, was the bar set on a chequerboard green, white and grey floor, beyond that big chunky tables, including scribbling tables for children, banquettes and chairs.
In the space where the altar would have stood a table with wine bottles and behind that, clearly on view, the kitchen where Head Chef Etienne Hugo and his colleagues produced seriously good food. On an upper level, another seating area offered a high-level vantage point for the goings-on to the floor below.
The staff are lovely. They all went out of their way to make us welcome advising on parking and generally looking after us and especially our delightful waitress Grace.
Food full of flavour
For us though the food was the star turn of the show. Good quality ingredients, cooked beautifully, were delicious – think tasty, rustic, generous-portion cooking rather than tiny-portion fine-dining. If you like full of flavour food Bel & The Dragon is the place to head for. The restaurant also boasts a Josper Grill.
Menus change regularly but our soup starter got full marks as did the duck salad. We shared the so-tender-it-fell-apart slow-cooked lamb plus roasted veg. Starters range from £6 to £11; Mains £9 to £33. Desserts £6 – but if there are two of you and Tarte Tatin is your thing for £7 each you will have probably the best Tarte Tatin this side of the Loire where it was invented. There is also a good value Express Lunch menu.
Wine prices are competitive and house wines, served from a magnum, are charged by the volume consumed. Bel & The Dragon has a longstanding relationship with one of Burgundy’s most respected producers, Olivier Leflaive, who works with them to produce Bel & The Dragon’s own label white and red burgundies.
A variety of events we were told are held regularly, and for summer Big Green Egg BBQs are evidently proving popular. Open 9am Monday – Sunday. www.belandthedragon-godalming.co.uk