It was the first week of open beer gardens. Every news report said a booking at a beer garden was rarer than a cheerful news story. I was failing in my duty as a local food blogger not to have dinner in the great outdoors. I investigated and …. actually it wasn’t that hard to get a table after all. (Note to self, always send press releases to the BBC implying that my blogs will soon run out, or something like that.)

Fear of the cold persuaded me to book my Guildford Arms dinner at 3:30pm. By 3:45pm we were watched by many bemused drinkers from gazebos as we enthusiastically devoured a shared meal. The Guildford arms offer a meat, veggie and fish shared meal… which included cake. Easy sell. The starter was a simple mixed mezze of chorizo and other cold cuts plus a good couple of breads with olives. It was not Turkish mezze huge, but it probably needed to be this size to leave space for the mains.

 We forgot our plan to bring blankets. The heated lamps mostly worked, but the occasional icy breeze made it through. I heartily started on the salad of the main course not clocking how much charcolly-flavoured chicken leg and steak I was going to miss out on. I should have packed empty takeaway boxes… but I didn’t…

The cloudy Peckham pilsner proved to be exactly the sort of local drink you’d want to justify an afternoon out.

My husband swapped his sharing-menu-allowed-cake without a second’s hesitation from the waitress, but we concluded that nice as the rhubarb crumble was, the chocolate cake that we were supposed to have was the best option, Hazelnuts effectively complemented the light choc cake (I’d say brownie, heavenly light brownie) which, along with the astringency of creme fraiche mixed with salted caramel hit the dessert-desire right on the nose. The cake was crunchy, but only for the barest millimeter and then gave way to smooth light choc intensity. My husband’s rhubarb crumble was also rewardingly light.

We ended the meal with a nicely bitter espresso, another treat that was only workable through booking dinner ridiculously early. Mid-afternoon dinners are the way forwards in my opinion. Right, now to supper.

Did you enjoy HELEN AND THE GRANDBEES?

I’ve released a FREE extract “Helen, Ruth and One Bee” explaining how Helen came to see Lily as Ingrid. Click here to receive your free copy