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Conveniently located just off the main road in Bury Common, The Squire and Horse was built in the 16th century and was originally known as The White Horse. We received a friendly greeting from the efficient staff on duty that evening and seated ourselves at the bar to peruse the menu. We had a drink at the bar and enjoyed a convivial chat with Wendy who runs the pub with business partner and head chef Nick. The pair have been operating the freehouse business for over fifteen years, Nick originates from Australia, where he worked in top restaurants and won numerous awards for his innovative food. Wendy told us business was good and that they have many loyal regular clients from as far afield as Guildford. A quick look online at Trip Advisor confirms that diners are generally very impressed; the Squire and Horse gets 4 1/2 stars out of 5 for food.

The larger part of the restaurant is towards the rear of the building but there is a cosy bar dining area where we chose to sit near to an attractive wood-burning stove. The decor and furnishings are traditional with wood beamed walls and at the time of our visit the pub was prettily decked out in full Christmas finery.

The gastro style menu offers a good variety of dishes but is not too extensive and there were some tasty specials to choose from too. I opted for the smoked haddock soufflé which had the consistency of the lightest fairy cake. It was mouth-wateringly moist and delicately salty with flakes of smoked haddock, served with a smooth cheese sauce and a generous portion of smoked salmon and the most delicious griddled asparagus spears which were crisp with a sweet char-grilled flavour. It was one of the tastiest starters I’ve had in a long time. Jeff started his meal with a generous Halloumi dish. The tender cheese was crisply fried in a light batter and served with a rich chunky tomato sauce with dashes of balsamic. Both starters were substantial but not so large as to spoil the main course. I stuck with a fish theme and chose a special of sea-bass (above left) served on pea and prawn risotto with a delicate, herb-flavoured creamy sauce – the juicy fish was beautifully presented and tasted wonderful. The rich aroma of the mushrooms paired with Jeff’s venison was delectable. The venison itself was seared on the outside and pink and tender inside. An oaky Rioja was the perfect accompaniment for the flavoursome meat.

I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth but am always tempted by Key Lime pie and the Squire and Horse’s version did not disappoint. The rich buttery base was thick, sweet and crunchy and a wonderful contrast to the smooth, zesty topping. It was served with a gorgeous sticky brandy snap, colourful raspberry coulis and Chantilly cream. Make sure you leave room for dessert as the portion sizes are not for the feint hearted (or those on a diet)! Jeff’s pudding was equally delicious although a little more manageable size-wise: Poached pear with a crisp sugar crust glaze and cinnamon flavour jus served with a separate pot of rich warm chocolate dipping sauce and cardamom and ginger ice-cream. Jeff was smitten and described it as ‘a little piece of heaven’. We felt that the prices, although not cheap for a ‘pub’ were very fair considering the quality of the food and throughout the evening we enjoyed helpful and professional service.

While we were there we also joined the Squire and Horse’s Member’s club. Membership (just £5 per couple) entitles you to various special offers including half price roast on Sundays between 5 and 7pm as well as alternative dishes and set price menus. There is also a separate children’s menu – fish and chips with lemonade batter sounds great – and all food is prepared with locally sourced produce wherever possible.

Open: Mon – Sat 12pm – 3pm and 5.30pm – closing Sunday – open all day. Squire & Horse, Bury Common, Bury, RH20 1NS 01798 831343 www.squireandhorsebury.co.uk/

The Squire & Horse

A friendly country pub at the foot of Bury Hill dating from the 16th century. Written by Editor Kris Thomas, 2016