A Birthday Lunch Beside The Thames
Where – The Bingham, Richmond- Upon-Thames.
Style – A small boutique hotel with an enticing location beside The Thames at Richmond. The décor is neither brutally trendy nor over the top bling. I would describe it as more Left Bank allure, like a sophisticated, pampered, kept woman with very good taste. So far so good, it is my birthday after all!
Dining room – The pretty dining room offers endless vistas for gazing out of The River Thames with balcony seats for high summer dining al fresco. The room resembles a Paris salon and is styled with pale golden Louis chairs and chandeliers that rustle and sparkle like a woman’s evening gown.
The Lunch – Well-made bread is usually a very good barometer of the food to follow. On this occasion the bread is very good indeed. It arrives on a wooden board, and while the butter is perhaps a little too melted, the bread comes with a delightfully crisp crust, contrasting nicely with the soft, fluffy texture within – so a promising start.
As a champion of local, organic and seasonal ingredients, let’s see how The Bingham fares.
Starter – It is not often I become excited by a salad, as this is something I love to create at home. The menu describes the seasonal salad as follows – a salad of organic leaves with…… When the salad arrives, I am quite moved by its beauty. The salad is colourful, like a plate of jewels and glistens with freshness and interest, as if plucked straight from the hotel’s garden. I am a relieved too find that the usual tasteless, achingly trendy micro salad, which tastes of absolutely nothing is replaced by leaves which are as colourful as they are delicious. The salad consists of morsels of sweet, roasted beetroot, artichoke, cauliflower, glazed tomatoes, (how do they do that?) along with the interesting addition of caramelized walnuts and intensely, white, fluffy goats cheese, which make this starter dish pleasingly substantial. If salad always tasted this good, I would eat up my greens every, single day.
Main course – I am still purring to my partner about the salad, when my Cornish Stone bass arrives. The fish is cooked to perfection, with a crisp skin that tastes so good that I eat every morsel on the plate. Something, I almost never do. I like the way the carrots are cooked in a sweet, orange reduction and the combination of delicate fish, sweet vegetables, seasonal cobnuts and melting gnocchi works like a treat.
My partner has chosen the vegetable risotto, and after a disappointing meal the night before her pronounces this ‘very nice’, which coming from a very analytical, theoretical scientist, is praise indeed.
Pudding – A cheesecake with celery sorbet – how could I resist such a conceit? This was great fun and looked far too interesting to eat. While I found the cheesecake perhaps a little too sweet for my taste, the ice cream had that elusive, homemade taste, texture and creaminess and the sorbet – well that was curiously refreshing and odd in a good way.
The scientist became very excited by the cheeseboard that offered a selection of five tasting cheeses, of various tastes and pungency, with a delightful selection of handmade breads and biscuits. Again, this was a hit, but don’t say I told you so.
Lunch for Two at The Bingham – Set Menu – £16.00 – 19.50 per person; A la Carte, £45.00, per person. Bookings: www.bingham.co.uk; Tel : 0208940 0902