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Please note, since this review was published, Bingham Riverside has been relaunched by MasterChef: The Professionals 2013 winner Steven Edwards. Time Out Food editors, FEBRUARY 2020.
It’s the ultimate compliment: ‘you look younger’. And that’s exactly what I want to say to the Bingham Riverhouse, the relaunched restaurant of a boutique hotel in Richmond.
The last time I ate here was a decade ago, and while the food was perfectly precise, the room was hotelly and dull, all plush carpets and upholstery in shades of ecru. Now, it’s more youthful and relaxed. And genuinely lovely.
The floors are golden parquet, the chairs wicker. Battered old Penguin paperbacks fill the bookshelves, their distinctive orange spines on display. The only lights are the dinky lamps on every table, or those picking out art on the heritage-toned walls. It’s like hanging out in the casual room – the orangery, say – of a grand house, if it also happens to be smack-bang on the Thames. Because, oh, have I not mentioned the view? Just over a third of the indoor tables have seats overlooking the river (though lots of French doors means that everyone has some semblance of a vista).
The view is glorious: the Thames, edging on to the hotel’s garden, sits a level below, so you can see right across the river, and its banks are lined with lush, leafy trees, with only the occasional building poking through. If you come on a sunny day and bag a table on the narrow terrace, then you truly are living the dream.
As for the menu, it’s everything a neighbourhood restaurant in a smart postcode should be: interesting enough for a special occasion, crowd-pleasing enough for a weeknight supper.
The (complimentary) bread was exceptional. Freshly baked and still warm, it was billed as sourdough but was like eating thick slices of savoury cake, with a loose crumb and a deliciously brittle crust. It came with a giant dollop of frothy, well-seasoned whipped butter. I’m still regretting turning down seconds. Also incredible (and also free) were the petit fours: dark chocolate truffles with a good hit of salt. Sometimes, simple really is best.
Away from the freebies, a starter of ‘raw beef’ was dazzling. Essentially, it was a mellow take on a steak tartare, the hand-cut ruby meat topped with a glistening egg yolk. But the inclusion of roasted rice, the kernels nutty and puffy, plus fragrant micro-flecks of caraway seed, elevated it from the ordinary, to the extraordinary.
Also memorable: dinky medallions of lamb loin with crunch-coated sweetbreads, a jewel-box of vegetables and an intense, inky-hued olive purée. Or a hunk of cod veiled by a slice of shimmering lardo, with a sauce that seemed to have Tuscan leanings, all white beans and slow-cooked tomatoes.
Two courses, plus freebies, cost £37 a head; wine starts from £25 a bottle. Given the posh postcode and the bucket-list view, this is eminently decent. Best of all, this dining room, with its savvy, super-friendly short-sleeved staff, still feels like a bit of an undiscovered secret. So go soon, while you can.
61-63 Petersham Rd
|Price:||Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £130.|
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