There is something lovely about returning to a restaurant you’ve always thought of fondly, but because of life and everything else in-between – you’ve sadly never managed a return visit. The last time I dined at The Petersham Restaurant in Richmond was way in 2015. Back then it was under a different chef and the interiors were slightly different – but the fantastic service and the stunning park views still remain.
It’s looking lovely inside at the moment and on a sunny day, those views really are glorious. Looking out over the river and down on to Old Deer Park where the deer run free. Shades of purples and grey’s adorn the room, a grand doorway welcomes you and before dinner, there’s a lovely seating area to enjoy a glass of bubbles or two.
Looking after the kitchen now is head chef Jean-Didier Gouges who has secured this restaurant four AA-Stars. Gouges arrived as former head chef of Rhubarb’s fine-dining restaurant in the Royal Albert Hall, and before that worked at the likes of London’s Capital Club and the St Pancras Hotel Group. It’s a fantastic looking menu and every dish had us intrigued. Whilst we decided on what to order, we took the glass of bubbles to our table and tucked into a bread basket which was warm to the touch and came with some lovely accompanying butter.
For starters, we couldn’t resist the Inverawe Scottish smoked salmon. Carved tableside from the trolley, it’s served with classic accompaniments such as capers, shallots, lemon and of course some slices of bread and butter. The salmon was of excellent quality, lightly smoked and a fine choice to start our meal.
Better still and one of my favourite dishes from the menu was the deconstructed chicken parfait. Burst of colours and textures make up for a mixture of chicken liver crumble, fresh berries, quince, Champagne jelly, sweet onion coulis and grilled brioche. Rich and decadent with a zesty lift – I really loved this dish.
Delve into the main courses and it gets even better. If you’re struggling to choose anything from the menu, don’t hold back and order the Angus beef fillet. It’s succulent, packed with flavour, seasoned to perfection and perfectly cooked. If that wasn’t already enough to convince you, it’s accompaniments might. Buttery potatoes, morels, beetroot & carrot purée, braised onions, spinach and a drizzle of truffle jus which smelt and tasted amazing.
I’ve been eating a lot of duck as of recently and when it’s cooked well, it can be truly special and this wild duck Magret was just that. It comes with an oxtail croquette, juicy slow cooked pork belly, baby vegetables, chilli oil and black truffle sauce. It’s dishes like these which really show off the talent of the kitchen.
They save the best till last and they certainly did with desserts. A practically perfect ginger and pear soufflé which was so light and fluffy, then dusted with the hotel/restaurants logo. A little more ginger wouldn’t have gone a miss if I’m being extra picky to this perfect soufflé. Yet, you’ll hardly notice that – especially once you drop the spoonful of blood orange sorbet in the middle and enjoy the buttery shortbread biscuit on the side.
For chocolate fans, the smoked chocolate délice d’élise was on the menu. Expect spoonfuls of chocolate mousse, hazelnut and almond ganache, chocolate biscuit and rainbow edible soils. This will probably spend a lifetime on your hips, but it’s worth it.
It was great to be back at The Petersham Restaurant and to not only find it’s still as good as we remember, but even better and going from strength to strength. Accomplished cooking, fantastic staff and during the day or early evening – those stunning views over Old Deer Park. Prices are perhaps a little on the high side if I was being picky, but there are some great set menus to be had and with the launch of a brand new tasting menu it means there are even more reasons to book.