NOTE: Since this review was published, former Hix Soho chef Damian Clisby has taken over as head chef. The Time Out Food and Drink Team.
The ultimate in rustic charm, complete with a real meadow on its doorstep, Petersham Nurseries is the perfect balm for the frazzled urbanite. Housed within the garden centre, the Café resembles a stately greenhouse, hung with Indian prints and pictures, and furnished with rickety tables and chairs.
Cat Ashton is now head chef, following the departure of Greg Malouf in late 2012; the seasonal menu remains a delightful read. A pre-starter plate of prosciutto san daniele with rocket and melon was exactly right on a summer’s day – as was a peach bellini. Burrata with courgette flowers, sorrento tomatoes, shallot and rose dressing was queen of the starters; squid dusted in polenta with rocket, chickpeas, chilli and aïoli was oddly subdued.
At this point, things slightly unravelled, despite the best efforts of the charming young staff. An overly long wait for mains produced roasted baby aubergines (with red and yellow datterini tomatoes, ricotta and basil) that simply hadn’t been cooked long enough and were unforgivably chewy; grilled pata negra pork loin with sweetcorn, salsa, coriander and tomato was a glorious combination, but again, the meat required work. Such flaws are not really acceptable at these elevated prices, though a side of Cornish new potatoes with anchovies, crème fraîche and salsa verde couldn’t be faulted, and neither could a delicate strawberry, prosecco and rose sorbet. There’s also a Tea house, where light lunches and cakes are served, a shop and of course, the Nurseries.