Thursday, 30 September 2010

Post number fourteen, 'Petersham Nurseries'

Richmond riverside is quite beautiful. That stunning view from the road the runs out of Richmond gate towards the town centre, past Mick jagger's house, you know the one.  The river bending away towards Ham, Twickenham in the distance, the Petersham hotel proudly sharing the view with you. Somewhere down there on the left before the river winds right is one of the most eclectic and coolest nurseries in London, Petersham nurseries. Home to a fantastic restaurant run by a hugely talented lady, Skye Gyngell.

How it came to pass that a Chef with the talent of Skye opened a restaurant in a greenhouse in a nurseries in Petersham I am not too sure but delighted diners have been enjoying it since 2004.

That said the nurseries and Skye are actually somewhat of a dream team. Her focus revolves around cooking seasonal, superbly sourced ingredients, I suspect a good deal of which are grown within a stones throw of the shed like kitchen. Her style is to me a food heaven, kind of St John meets River Cafe with a slice of Alice Waters thrown in. I believe she worked with Fergus Henderson way back in his French house days.

I managed to procure a relatively last minute booking on the last bank holiday of august(it has been extremely hard in past to get a reservation) and I was pretty much blown away with the place and the food I ate.

The dining room is really a stylishly adorned greenhouse, the amazing colour of the natural dirt floor was the first thing that hit me, cadbury's crunchie honeycomb gold, stunning albeit uneven and no doubt messy on more inclement days. We were very fortunate with our bank holiday weather this particular day, sun glorious sun.

The ever changing menu is a delight, full of saliva inducing interesting combination's. Sea bass, chicory salad and aioli, squid and romesco sauce, Guinea fowl and special, Peteresham tomatoes. All so good.

As bubbly goodness to start we all were suckered in by the rose petal, rose watered proseco, a delicious aperitife.

I chose the squid with romesco sauce to start followed by the fillet of beef with farro and salsa verde...served at room temperature (was knowingly informed of that ).

The squid plate was so pretty, there is real thought in presentation here, a rustic style but hugely appealing. The beef was fantastic, perfectly rare but heat had been allowed to seep through, it melted in my mouth. The farro and salsa verde was superb with it, a touch of preserved lemon in there too which added a lovely citrus fragrance to the accompaniment.

For dessert I had a hazelnut tart with creme fraiche and some perfect raspberries.

Two Italian wines with our meal, a light herby white and a fruity cool red, both excellent.

The fact is just this; The food was sensational, the service was just ok really. The surrounds were as special as the food. A moment in time.

The cooking at Petersham nurseries is better than that I experienced at my visit to Chez Panisse last December, indeed the heart of these two restaurants is very similar.

Chez Panisse has one michelin star, Skye Gyngell deserves that accolade too for the wonderful entity she has created, on the Thames, near Richmond. 

It's a special occasion venue, it's River Cafe prices and on this experience for me, slightly better. It's undoubtedly more pleasing in the summer than winter, but you have to go, if you love to experience a kitchen that thrives on the passion of seasonal, innovative quality food.

for our sunny bank holiday magical experience, five out of five stars. 

Petersham Nurseries
Church Lane
Off Petersham Road
TW10 7AG

tel 0208 940 5230

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