Dining out at...
PUBLISHED: 12:04 17 October 2007 | UPDATED: 14:53 20 February 2013
The Headley, Great Warley
FINDING The Headley in the leafy spread of Great Warley common is easy thanks to two gigantic modern pub signs. Size matters too inside with a cavernous bar with low leather seating, off which you'll find the downstairs dining area. A larger dining area exists upstairs, allowing The Headley to accommodate up to 180 people.
The lunchtime à la carte menu features predominantly modern British dishes with European flavours dotted throughout. I started with the fennel soup followed by British Lop pork chop, served with a bean and chorizo stew with smoked paprika. An expansive wine list stretches to more than 200 bottles listed according to wine style and representing most wine-producing countries and numerous grape varieties. Curiously, only smaller 175ml glasses are available on the wine list, which has implications if you don't want to stretch to a bottle. My Argentinian Chardonnay coming in at £5.50 proved the point.
Served in white china, the fennel soup looked the part, garnished with a streak of ground fennel, with a superbly crunchy Parmesan and sesame crostini to one side. The soup had an excellent depth of flavour featuring the light aniseed of the spice with a background of morels.
The Headley is the second venture for chef/proprietor Daniel Clifford, who also owns the popular two Michelin-starred riverside restaurant Midsummer House in Cambridge. Daniel works in the kitchen with Scott Wade, who has previously worked at The Gun in Docklands and Mirabelle. A formidable pair.
My main course once again showed presentation to be high on the agenda at The Headley. My meaty pork chop topped a spread of complementary colours, constituting baby broad beans, petit pois, butter beans and garnet chunks of punchy chorizo. Still pink in the middle, the chop was particularly succulent. I found the dish quite adequate in size, although larger appetites can choose from a number of vegetable and salad side dishes.
Although located on the calm of Great Warley common, the M25 is only five minutes away, so it is easy to envisage diners coming from far and wide as The Headley surely becomes established.
Desserts range from a cheeseboard served with oatcakes and quince, to American-style dishes such as chocolate brownie with cardamom ice cream or a lemon and lime cheesecake with lemongrass ice cream. However, I couldn't help being drawn to try the exotic-sounding yoghurt bavarois served with poached gooseberries and fennel pollen croquante. The fennel pollen croquante turned out to be a very thin oblong of very light caramel (to add welcome crunch), speckled throughout with the pollen.
It didn't disappoint.
Useful to know
The total cost of the meal was £31.75, including a glass of beer and green tea. This is an independent review, featuring
a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and wine editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.