Bluebells Restaurant & Bar, Shrubbs Hill, London Road, Sunningdale, Berks

Flowers, chocs? Lovely, thanks. But if you really want to treat your mum today...

Delivered the card? Been round with flowers and a box of chocolates? Or have you coaxed your children into taking a wobbling tray of tea and toast in to your missus in bed? No? Well, you are a bad person. It's Mother's Day today.

It's not too late. You could speedily book a table in a nice restaurant and pretend you had it planned all along. I'd be very happy to be taken to Bluebells, a restaurant I've passed many times on the way to visit various relatives. In fact, if everyone in my extended family decided to take their mothers out to lunch today, there's a fair chance we'd all be in Bluebells. It's an easy reach from London and right next door to the lovely parkland of Virginia Water, the perfect place for a Sunday perambulation. But I've never stopped there. There's something about restaurants on A-roads that's a bit unappealing – all that traffic flashing past, going somewhere else.

So today, as a recce for Mother's Day lunch, I and my teenage son Peter pull off the A30 and park. Bluebells is a long, low restaurant with a sweeping drive. It's an elegant exterior, but I'm still surprised by the interior. We're directed to seats in the lobby, which is arranged with leather club chairs and low, chic lampshades in areas divided by soft, semi-opaque curtains – it's stealth wealth all the way. A waitress glides over with drinks, menus and posh nibbles. The dishes on offer on a weekday evening (my only available time to scope out the place) show an intelligent approach to smart food – there's the expected lobster, sea bass and beef Wellington fare; there's also early season asparagus and rhubarb, as well as modish pork pie and Scotch egg (here made with crab and langoustine).

The long dining-room is also partitioned by lengths of fabric, which gives a frisson of intrigue – the idea of being able to earwig on one's dining neighbours (perhaps a celebrity from the nearby Wentworth golf course) while not fully seeing their faces – the sort of pursuit my mother would love. No such glamour at my table; Peter, being grilled about a party escapade, tries to avoid incriminating himself by hunching over his BlackBerry.

When the starters arrive, though, he looks up. That Scotch egg affair has caught his eye. I'm having scallops with sautéed ceps, sweet-pea purée and a Parmesan dressing – both are prettily presented and deftly made, as they should be for £9.25 and £12.95 respectively.

When it comes to mains, the pretty dishes tip towards fussy. My braised belly and pan-roasted tenderloin of Sussex pork has rhubarb chutney and splodges of pale-pink foam dotted around it, which is mildly off-putting. It tastes superb, though – unctuous and flavoursome, topped with curls of crackling (£19.50).

Across the table, I barely have time to register the pastry-wrapped beef with molasses-glazed baby onions, porcini-mushroom purée and confit potatoes before it vanishes. As is the fashion, the balance of meat and veg in both dishes favours the meat (my mother gripes about this on Masterchef). It is, the son acknowledges, y'know, good, although you don't get much bang for your buck: the one slender slice costs £26.50.

It is probably daft to order rhubarb and custard pavé with toasted-almond ice-cream and crisp nougatine. The plate looks a little too much like the pork before it – similar vivid-pink atop a chunky square. There are frills and furbelows around the plate which, again, are extraneous, but the pavé has a firm texture and not-too-sweet bite that I adore, and the nutty ice-cream is a good foil. Peter's pistachio crème brûlée with pink pepper biscuits comes on a long white plate looking for all the world like a pavement after the carnival's gone by. But again, the chef's skill with flavour outdoes his decorative eye.

Our waitress brings a cork for the remainder of the Brouilly Louis Tête 2009, a perky but warming red that seems good value at £28. Our meal is a steep £120, but there's a special Mother's Day lunch today with three courses for £29.50. The menu suggests fewer culinary tricks than our dinner, but the skill of cooking means that generous, thoughtful children (are you listening, Peter?) will make their mothers very happy with a visit to Bluebells.

7/10

Scores: 1-3 stay home and cook, 4 needs help, 5 does the job, 6 flashes of promise, 7 good, 8 special, can't wait to go back, 9-10 as good as it gets

Bluebells restaurant & bar Shrubbs Hill, London Road, Sunningdale, Berks, tel: 01344 622 722 Lunch and dinner, Tues-Sat; Lunch, Sun. About £120 for two, with drinks

Celebratory settings

Summer Lodge

9 Fore Street, Evershot, Dorset, tel: 01935 482 000

This sumptuous Hardy-country manor house has a wonderful setting. Excellent cooking, elegant service, and its wine list is a masterpiece

Mr Underhill's

Dinham Weir, Ludlow, Shropshire, tel: 01584 874 431

Located beautifully by a weir, this restaurant-with-rooms offers outstanding food, thoughtful service and an interesting wine list

Jeremy's at Borde Hill

Balcombe Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, tel 01444 441 102

The food at this cheerful restaurant, best enjoyed on the terrace, offers a good balance between clever technique and allowing quality ingredients to shine

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2011' www.hardens.com

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform