Hobbing & Nobbing @ The Petersham Restaurant, Richmond
16 Jun 2017
My first impression of Richmond is a crescendo of pleasure. Walking from the station is a leisurely 20 minutes to the hotel (you can take bus or drive, of course, too), passing blocks of restaurants and clothing shops, mostly upscale, and then swiftly reaching the green edges. Almost instantly Richmond opens up into farmland and a stunning display of the Thames.
Approaching the hotel (the restaurant is inside) and the closer I get, the more I feel I have reached a major landmark, with its tall cathedral-esque stature on top of a steep hill with no real sign of modernity in view.
The maître d’hôtel epitomises formality and etiquette, as do the serving staff and the general ambiance. They take our bags and jackets, seat us, treat us, and leave us.
But the first thing you will notice, and the main reason I suggest you come here, is the panoramic view (so make sure you come during the day). One entire wall is floor-to-ceiling windows, looking on to the green countryside you walk by to get here.
The restaurant is a living painting. The interior begs to be explored like a gallery, with sculptures and paintings filling the walls. Much like an elite art gallery on a weekday, the Petersham Restaurant is not buzzing, but has an intermittent flow of expensively dressed guests.
Our first dish is an unexpected delight: Wye Valley Asparagus, with poached duck egg, pomegranate and a creamy hollandaise sauce (£14) that feels both healthy and indulgent in one forkful. Slightly heavier and richer is the steamed Lasagna of Cornish crab, with capers in a buttery tarragon sauce (£17) that transports me to the Cornish coast.
We have an idea: ‘surf and turf’. First, a grilled whole Dover sole with capers (£38), again with a rich gravy of butter that starts to make us feel a bit guilty, and ‘turf’ with a rack of lamb, accompanied curiously by roast carrots, artichokes, beetroot puree, and pickled mushrooms (£26).
This last dish captures the distinct colour palette that I now associate with Chef Ade. His broad brushstrokes of pale rhubarb pinks and rich pea greens makes the food taste as beautiful as it looks. And the visual enjoyment doesn’t stop there. The restaurant, refurbished earlier this year, levelled up with sensuous furnishings, golden detailing and royal saturated hues, nodding to the traditional with rustic mirrors and faux candlelight (complete with simulated dripping wax).
The Petersham Restaurant is as rich as Richmond itself, where you might be rubbing elbows with London’s own landed gentry, but you’ll discover that there’s more to this restaurant than meets the eye. Chef Ade’s visual artistry sizzles on the plate and jumps out in bold explosions of colour. The windowed wall is a truly living painting that blurs the boundary between ‘out there’ and ‘in here’ in full panorama. Your date will swoon with enchantment. My only concern is that this restaurant’s secret is too well kept, and only those with an adventurous spirit will make the journey.