Fringe Box



Letter: From Uruguay With Love (Especially of Some Guildford Eateries)

Published on: 19 Nov, 2023
Updated on: 19 Nov, 2023

From: Alvaro Cuenca

I am probably the strangest stranger to have set foot in Guildford in the last ten years. I have not met a Uruguayan either in England, nor in my country, who knew where Guildford was, let alone one who had been there.

My wife and I had a lot of misgivings when our youngest daughter told us she had accepted a job offer from Supermassive Games of Guildford. While my wife talked on the phone with her I frantically Googled to find where Guildford was. In the end, after visiting twice, each time for about a fortnight, we fell in love with the place and its people. It was a big disappointment a year later when our daughter moved to Vienna.

During those visits, we must have gone to eat at about thirty restaurants, coffee shops and pubs. This is a list of my top three best places to eat in Guildford. It is, of course, a personal ranking that allows for good food, setting and atmosphere.

We felt like strangers leaving our daughter alone in a foreign land, so emotions and the personal touch were as important as great food and good prices.

These are my culinary “postcards”…

The George Abbot pub, High Street Photo Google Street View

The George Abbot pub

After several delays in Barcelona and an absurd delay in Gatwick’s customs, our arrival to Guildford was quite traumatic. It was around three in the afternoon when we crossed the River Wey on our way to Walnut Tree Close.

Over the bridge I saw a white pub on the river that I decided was going to be our late lunch venue. But it was not going to be, the kitchen was closed and nobody seemed to care about hungry foreigners.

The auspices were bad, so we just crossed the street to the close by pub. It did not have a view of the river, but as we would soon see, it had a great heart. Its kitchen was probably closed too, but we were served an excellent sandwich and burgers and Guinness at a perfect temperature.

We had a great chat with the landlady who was really interested in who we were and what we were doing there. Suddenly Guilford was not so strange and foreign. We returned several times to the George Abbot until it practically became our office for our stay.

Back in Uruguay, with Guildford as our second home I wrote a complimentary letter to the pub, and incredibly, in these times of fast food and fast-finishing relationships, I received a lovely answer. So the George Abbot pub reigns west of the River Wey.

Positano Restaurant, Tunsgate Photo Google Street View

Positano Restaurant

After our arrival, we started to see what to do and where to go in the town and its Surrey surroundings. Google seemed to be sure which was the best Italian restaurant. Italian food is foolproof. It can be sophisticated if you feel like having a special dinner, or friendly if you feel like just having a pizza.

Google gave Positano so many stars and forks that my notebook computer nearly closed because of the weight. But each and every one of those stars was well given. The pasta was exceptional and the pizza crunchy and as good as the best in Naples. The size of the dishes was enormous but one does not want to stop until everything is gone!

Two comments on the architecture of the place. Going to the toilet is a nightmare, and returning to the table is even more complicated. Positano is like a gastronomic maze.

Like Theseus in the Minoan labyrinth, we should have laid down spaghetti on the floor to find our way back. The route seemed so neverending that it felt that our table would be over the river. Anyway, it’s a lovely place, with incredible food and great attention.

To be honest I did not like the outdoor enclosure of the street section I found this year. I understand business is business but tents are for circuses.

Carmona Restaurant, Upper High Street Photo Google Street View


I think this Spanish tapas and Argentinian beef restaurant at the top of High Street is the most underrated in Guildford. We went there at least three times and there was never more than one more table occupied while we were there.

Uruguayan beef is second to none, even to Argentinian, but I cannot think you will find a better steak in the town than in Carmona. Even the ¨chorizo¨, which in the whole of Europe is the disgusting Spanish paprika-infested sausage, was a perfect River Plate one. And the provolone (grilled cheese) was as if I had prepared it at my home’s firewood barbecue.

All in all a perfect ¨Uruguayan” dinner in Guildford, perfect for the farewell dinners we had on both of our stays.

Uruguay is a very expensive place to live, unbelievable as it sounds. So prices did not seem so expensive. From the ridiculously low prices of the pub and the Italian restaurant, to the meat and tapas at Carmona.

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