The town of Godalming is situated in the countryside in southern England but not far from London. Its narrow streets are lined with many historic buildings. It’s a town with history.
The name means “of the clan of Godhelm”, and the Saxon settlement of Godalming was first recorded in the will of King Alfred the Great of Wessex, in AD 899. William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book of 1086 mentions this as a sizeable village with watermills which played an important part in the prosperity of the town. From medieval times Godalming became a centre for the manufacture of woollen cloth. The success of the industry reached its peak during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Bel & The Dragon, Godalming, is part of a high-end hospitality chain in this charming and historic county of Surrey. The name of this restaurant is taken from Bible and mythology, involving Daniel, the priests of a pagan god, and that dragon that seems to crop up frequently in European fairy-tales!
The building is a strikingly beautiful former Congregational church built in the 1800s, and the imposing architecture has been tastefully restored and woven into the new and thoroughly harmonious design where appropriate – although the chef won’t be serving soup from the font. The upper floor has long refectory tables and the original stained glass windows still remain, creating a unique ambiance for group dining. The restaurant with its high ceilings and gallery presents a number of areas for both eating and drinking, and there is the possibility of barbecues on the terrace during the summer.
Thoughtful, delicious and often whimsical
Group head chef Ronnie Kimbugwe has created a series of menus for regular visitors as well as those attending the popular Supper Clubs, which are held on the aforementioned gallery. It’s British cuisine here, with a focus on local and fresh produce. The open kitchen allows diners to watch the theatre of food preparation. It’s better than TV. Dining is smart/casual but the dishes remain thoughtful, delicious and often whimsical. The beef here is outstanding and the side dishes are vibrant, using quality, sustainable ingredients.
Bel & The Dragon Godalming is part of a chain but you would never guess. This restaurant has style, imagination and great individuality. The food admirably fits the location which works for those looking for great British cuisine as well as those dropping by for a drink. The management evidently prize unique buildings and are sympathetic in their refurbishing. This is a joy.
Restaurant opening hours
Monday – Saturday Lunch: 12 noon – 3pm
Dinner: 6pm – 10pm
Sunday: 10am – 9pm
Bel & The Dragon
Phone: 01483 527 333
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018