Living as I do in Islington, Richmond is not an area I visit regularly but every time I do I am impressed at what a gorgeous part of London it is. The borough is home to Hampton Court Palace and The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, but it is the River Thames as well as Richmond Park (London's largest park) that dominate the atmosphere of the area. It feels green, village-like and very well to do, with the most beautiful open areas and walks along the river.
Last weekend I made my way to beautiful Richmond to visit The Petersham Hotel and try Alex Bentley's "Glorious Game Menu". Built in 1865, and still privately owned, The Petersham Hotel lies on the top of Richmond Hill and boasts the most amazing views over the Thames and the surrounding Petersham meadows (cows could be seen grazing happily there), making it hard to believe that we were still in London.
The hotel and restaurant were elegantly furnished, and had a warm and comfortable feel with plenty of natural light. Service was efficient but unobtrusive which is always a big plus (waiters seemed to unexpectedly materialise whenever you needed them).
As we perused the menu, Dr G and I ordered a glass of Joseph Perrier Champagne. The champagne was lemon-green in colour, with a nice mousse and toasty/yeasty notes on the palate. At £13.50 I was impressed that we were served a whole 200ml bottle each rather than a glass of champagne that we had ordered.
The "Glorious Game" lunch menu is priced at £21 for two courses or £24.50 for three courses and is only available during October and November. There is also an option to upgrade many of the starters and main courses to more sophisticated ones at a little extra cost.
As a starter, I had "Seared partridge breast" (£3 supplement). The meat was perfectly cooked with the leg wrapped in a crisp vine leaf, and served on a bed of choucroute and mushrooms, and black truffle toast. The flavours of game and autumnal vegetables were well matched in this dish.
Dr G decided to start with a "Ballotine of foie gras with pistachio & green peppercorns" (£6.50 supplement). This was also excellent - the foie gras was creamy and served with a slice of smoked duck, green beans and golden raisin and camomile jelly.
Another "Glorious Game" main dish was the "Roasted pigeon breast". This was served with smoked Morteau sausage (richly flavoured uncooked/smoked sausage from the Morteau region of France, smoked for at least 48 hours in sawdust from conifers and juniper) and choux farci (stuffed cabbage parcel), fondant sweet potato, blackberries and red wine reduction.
The "Pot roasted grouse" was well worth the £18 supplement tag. The meat tasted deliciously rich but not too gamey. It was served with game croutons, celeriac puree, braised red cabbage, and a fantastic bread sauce.
To accompany our game dishes, we ordered a lovely but entry level bottle of 08 Private Margaux Reserve @ £33.50 (Schroder and Schyler). As with most Bordeaux wines, this was a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, and had a good balance of fruit, tannin and acidity. I was pleasantly surprised to see the low mark up for this wine since it normally retails online at £17.99.
To finish off our bottle of Margaux, we had a selection of English and continental cheeses and quince jam or membrillo (£2.50 supplement) like Colsten Basset Stilton, Bosworth Ash Goats, Epoisses de Bourgogne, Reblechon Sovoi Alps, Livarot Normandie, and Comte Jura extra mature.
For dessert I ordered a "Pina colada rum baba" served with poached pineapple and coconut sorbet. The rum baba was light, similar to a souffle and tasted delicious with tropical fruit flavours.
Dr G opted for "Chocolate Moelleux" served with caramelised bananas and ice cream. The Chocolate Moelleux was very soft and yielding in the middle, with a lovely bitter chocolate flavour. I loved the presentation of this dish.
We were so entranced by the food, wine and the views from our table that we could scarcely believe three hours had passed when we rose at the end of our meal. We went for a brisk walk along the Thames path, which is at its most charming in Richmond and was the perfect end to our lunch.
Cost: the "Glorious Game" lunch menu is priced at £21.50 for two courses or £24.50 for three courses excluding drinks.
Likes: one of the best views in London, excellent standard of cooking, elegant surroundings. Perfect place for a lazy Sunday lunch followed by a stroll along the Thames.
Dislikes: although most wines were well priced, there were no options below £20.
Verdict: I can think of very few restaurants in London with such splendid views, outstanding British cooking, nor with such an impressive and well priced wine list. I was extremely impressed by The Petersham Hotel Restaurant in every respect. A really special place to take a relative or visitor you would like to impress, or as a treat for yourself. Very highly recommended.