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Thursday, 6 August 2015
Name: The Richmond
Where: 316 Queensbridge Road, London, E8 3NH, http://www.therichmondhackney.com/
Cost: Average spend - £35-£40 per person not including drinks. The menu is divided into 4 sections: "Raw" at £9-£10 featuring carpaccio or tartare of scallop, seabass, Sicilian red prawn or tuna. “Small Plates” from £7-£9, “Big Plates” divided into meat, fish or vegetarian options from £16 to £28 and “Sides” (£3.50-£4). Cocktails are unusual and inventive, with some interesting ingredients like hibiscus petals, agave and camomile-infused Pisco. They range in price from £8-£10.50.
About: The Richmond is a neighbourhood bar and restaurant in Hackney offering a number of cooked dishes but its focus is on British freshly shucked oysters and other raw seafood dishes. The cocktail menu is impressive and highly creative.
Opened by Australian chef Brett Redman (formerly of The Pavilion Café in Victoria Park), who is now the executive chef at both The Richmond and at the Elliot’s Café in Borough Market. Redman is joined by American business partner, the fashion stylist Margaret Crow who was the major force behind the elegant restaurant décor.
The restaurant has a rather unassuming front but inside, the dining rooms and bar are tasteful in a striking, dominant red colour, with bare dark wooden tables and subdued lighting. The Richmond is not a ‘neighbourhood’ restaurant as we know it – this is a stylish eatery serving super fresh fish and seafood with prices to match anything in Central London. As the diners sitting at the table next to ours confided – they love coming to The Richmond, but this was a meal they had to save up for!
What We Ate: We started with a selection of “raw” dishes - the scallop carpaccio, with ajo blanco, elderflower oil and grapes (£10). The scallop was meltingly tender and super fresh, though I wished there was a little more of it at this price level. The ajo blanco (a chilled soup of almond, sherry vinegar, garlic, bread) was good but again there wasn’t much of it, and in my opinion it could have done with a little more acidity (more sherry vinegar) or garlic for flavour, to give the dish the lift it needed.
Better were the Sicilian red prawns with lemon and basil (£9) – creamy, fresh and delectable with a hint of lemon and basil, they were great but again not the most generous of portions considering the price tag.
Our favourite raw dish was the tuna tartare with aubergine, harissa and mint (£9). The aubergine tasted like a Levantine baba ghanoush- lightly crushed and bursting with flavour, this was a cleverly conceived dish.The combination of aubergine, spicy harissa and fresh mint against the raw tuna was a first for me but one I will definitely try and replicate at home.
Moving on to the “small plates” section of the menu, we went for the crispy prawns and lemon mayonnaise (£8).Marinated in milk and oats overnight then deep-fried, due to long soaking they were very soft and so eaten whole, head, shell and all! They were really delicious, and I highly recommend them.
I don't normally comment on the bread, but the version on offer when we visited was from Bread Peddlar (www.lbpedlar.com), and was excellent. From August 2015, I am told the restaurant will be baking its own sourdough bread.
From the “big plates”, we had the Nduja spiced seafood stew with pasta shells and aioli (£19). This dish, a medley of octopus, mussels and prawns served in a spicy and scrumptious broth, was probably the highlight of the evening - richly flavoured with meaty textures, this was a great dish and surprisingly well priced.
The Hake with Vesuvian tomatoes, chickpeas and samphire (£17) was also excellent, served in a velvety butter and tarragon sauce and fresh chickpeas (a rare thing to see these days) which were delicious although perhaps a little firm.
To accompany, we had a side dish of cauliflower cheese (£4) – this was wonderful with savoury blue cheese flavours and a lovely creaminess from the unpasteurized British Ogleshield cheese from their supplier in Bermondsey.
For dessert, we shared a banana tart with creme fraiche and macadamia (£6) and also some fantastic deep-fried Beignets, served with fresh peaches and custard (£7) on the side. They were both great – comfort food at its best.
What We Drank: There is a fairly large and well-thought out selection of natural wines, served by the glass or half litre, as well as sparkling wines and Champagnes. Natural wine specialist Isabelle Legeron has devised the restaurant’s wine list.
Entry level white is a Rousanne - Viognier blend from the Cotes du Rhone, priced at £29, and the entry level red is a Tempranillo from Castilla, Spain priced at £27. It's a well thought-out, exclusively European selection of wines.
We started with a couple of refreshing cocktails - the Brit Spiritz (£8), featuring my favourite north London Kamm & Sons spirit from Holloway, elderflower cordial and natural sparkling wine. We also had the Richmond Fizz (£9), with Beefeater gin, fresh lime, Pedrino and egg white. Pedrino is another new London-based drink, an all natural blend of Pedro Ximenez, citrus botanicals, quinine and spring water, and 5.5% alcohol.
To accompany our food, we had a glass of two white wines. One by Alexandre Bain, La Levee, Pouilly-Fumé, 2013 (£9.50 per glass). Creamy, savoury, this was about as far from a generic NZ Sauvignon Blanc as it is possible to imagine.
From the "Orange" wine menu, we had the Cascini degli Ulivi, A Demua, Piemonte, Italy, 2010 (£9.50), a blend of Riesling, Verdea, Bosco, Timorassa, Moscatella. Rather like an oloroso sherry (lightly oxidized), this was a great accompaniment to the savoury octopus dish.
Likes: The tuna tartare with aubergine was delicious, the nduja spiced octopus, and the beignette. For me, the perfect meal would start with Richmond Fizz, followed by tuna tartare, nduja spiced seafood stew and the deep-fried beignette for dessert.
Verdict: The Richmond offers excellent British fish and seafood, with great raw seafood options. The cocktails are well-made and strong using unique spirits and mixers. As a neighbourhood spot, The Richmond is as good as it gets. Highly recommended.