Name: The Richmond
Where: 316 Queensbridge Road, London E8 3NH, http://www.therichmondhackney.com/
About: This was our second visit to The Richmond in Hackney, but this time we came to try their Sunday Brunch menu - you can see our earlier review here.
The Sunday Brunch menu offers the extensive selection of British oysters for which The Richmond has become known for (also available at other times), as well as a selection of meat and fish dishes that reflect an Antipodean, rather than a traditional British version of Sunday lunch. This is not surprising since the restaurant is owned by Australian executive chef Brett Redman (formerly of The Pavilion Café in Victoria Park).
The Richmond looks even more elegant in the daylight – the dining rooms and bar are tastefully designed in a striking, dominant red colour, with bare dark wooden tables and subdued lighting.
What We Ate: From the starter menu, we chose the English crab muffin (£7) - tender fresh crab over a toasted muffin, the whole thing dusted with lovely Espelette pepper – perfection.
The Grilled dived scallops and preserved lemon butter (£7) was also delicious - plump and meaty, and still adherent to its shell, although definitely singular rather than plural as described on the menu.
For main course, we had the lamb shoulder (£17) - slow cooked for 12 hours, then roasted, this combined crispy skin with the tenderest of meat, and was served with confit tomatoes, anchovies, samphire and aubergine – the blending of land and sea ingredients here worked well, the saltiness/umaminess of the samphire and anchovies (two of my favourite ingredients) with the lamb meat was so damn clever.
I hardly order chicken in a restaurant, unless it is of outstanding quality and The Richmond’s did not disappoint. Their spit roast poussin with pumpkin and sage stuffing (£18) was served with a rich, concentrated and velvety Marsala gravy that saw me scraping my plate! The poussin meat was sweet and succulent, and of excellent quality. The restaurant uses a wood fire to cook all its meats.
To accompany our mains, we shared a side dish of cauliflower cheese (£4) – the cauliflower was cut up into tiny pieces, mixed with cream and cheese and finished off under the grill for a crusty top – I congratulate the chef for making such an uninspiring vegetable taste so utterly delicious!
Deep-fried desserts are just the best things on any menu as far as I am concerned and so the apple beignets (£7) had to be ordered. Served with a fromage frais sorbet, the beignets were airily light, filled with apple puree, and dusted in cinnamon. I loved these babies.
We also had the brown butter financier (£7) - served with poached pears in cinnamon (I can never enough cinnamon in my life!) and crystalised almonds, this was also very good.
What We Drank: The Richmond is renowned for their cocktails and I urge you to order them when you visit. Sunday brunching can only mean Bloody Mary and that is what I had – lightly spicy, and strong, it got our brunch off to a very good start. Dr G opted for The French 75 which blended gin, sparkling wine and lemon, and had a refreshing intensity of lemon.
The wine list is extensive, and focuses almost exclusively on Europe. There is a good selection of wines by the glass or 500ml carafe. The entry level white is a Cotes du Rhone at £29, while for the reds, it is a Tempranillo from Castilla, Spain at £27. There are also some well-chosen British craft beers, as well as a couple of Belgian and USA options.
From it, the sommelier suggested a Loire red to accompany our challenging combination of lamb and poussin main courses. The Domaine de Veilloux 2013, Cheverny a blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cabernet Franc (£34) was light, but with a good weight of red cherry fruit and little tannin. This was a good choice that stood up to the lamb without overpowering the poussin.
Likes: There is some excellent cooking skill on display at The Richmond, and it's great to see a neighbourhood restaurant where complete confidence in the skill of the chef is justified. Service was faultless.
Verdict: Fantastic cocktails, highly skilled cooking and a gorgeous restaurant, what is there to dislike about The Richmond? There are very few places in London I can think of where I would rather be for Sunday Brunch. Highly recommended.