The Petersham, Richmond, Surrey TW10 6UZ - restaurant review

A striking hotel and restaurant on the side of Richmond Hill, The Petersham offers spectacular views straight down to the Thames as well as fine dining at its best. But it does come at a price, as restaurant critic JOHN HUGHES discovered

It was a glorious picture of the hotel, perched high on Richmond Hill with lush meadows stretching down to the banks of the Thames, that brought The Petersham to our attention at Surrey Life. The hotel restaurant is ideally situated to make the most of these panoramic views and when I visited with photographer Helen for a weekday dinner, we were fortunate enough to be seated right next to the window - a wonderful backdrop for a quality dining experience. Full of flavour Chef Alex Bentley's reputation preceded him and I knew we were in for a treat. And so it turned out with a magnificent culinary display of simplicity, flare and imagination. He offers a well-balanced menu, not too expansive, with dishes to cater for all tastes and a healthy bias towards fresh fish and seafood. For the starters, my six Irish oysters from County Louth were unspoilt by fussy presentation and were succulent and ultra fresh, served with just a slice of lemon and shallot vinegar. Similarly, Helen's Scottish smoked salmon was all about making much of the natural flavour, devoid of unnecessary frills. For the main course - served after an inordinately long wait by an apologetic waiter - I chose roasted squab of pigeon with crepinette, served with spring greens, fondant potato and crep bouillon. This was a heady blend of strong flavours, not least of all the crepinette, a round sausage patty wrapped in caul fat. In complete contrast, Helen selected a vegetarian dish - hand-rolled spinach lasagne with grilled goats' cheese, dried tomato and pesto - and with the extraordinary property, as Helen discovered, of each mouthful having a quite different flavour from the last. For dessert, I couldn't resist their crme brul�e of the day (I wonder how it differs on other days) and Helen had marble chocolate cheesecake with banana and passion fruit sorbet, the latter making up for the subtle presentation of previous dishes with a delightful quirkiness that raised a smile from both of us. A pleasant surprise Dining at The Petersham is not cheap and so the wine list came as a pleasant surprise with a broad selection of moderately priced wines, including a wide selection of half bottles from which I chose a 2006 Chablis. Perhaps not the ideal complement to my pigeon but quite superb with the oysters. I wish more restaurants in Surrey offered this many half bottles from which to choose. Although there is much to praise about The Petersham, there were shortcomings with the service on the day we visited. As well as the delay between courses, a drinks order failed to materialise altogether. Also, the bill for two, with only half a bottle of wine, crept into three figures, and I'm afraid we headed for home feeling that, based on our own experience, we couldn't quite justify the outlay for a midweek evening meal. Worth a visit Nevertheless, a lovely venue, magnificent views and superb food - and certainly well worth a visit for a special occasion.

What we ate...Starters Irish Oysters �8.00 Scottish Smoked Salmon �9.50 Main Courses Roasted Squab of Pigeon �23.00 Spinach Lasagne �13.00 Dessert Crme Brul�e �6.50 Marble Chocolate Cheesecake �6.50 Wine Chablis Domaine des Malandes 2006 (Half bottle) �13.75 VERDICT Food & wine 8/10 Service 5/10 Venue 8/10

3 other restaurants in hotels...The Latymer at Pennyhill Park Hotel London Road, Bagshot GU19 5EU Tel: 01276 471774 Michelin-starred chef Michael Wignall made The Latymer his home at the turn of the year and the restaurant hasn't looked back since Leftbank at Runnymede Hotel Windsor Road, Egham TW20 0AG Tel: 01784 436171 With its a la carte menu featuring an eclectic fusion of Mediterranean and British food, Leftbank is a fantastic riverside dining experience Restaurant 1881 at Stanhill Court Hotel Charlwood, Horley RH6 0EP Tel: 01293 862166 Set in the historic Stanhill Court Hotel, Restaurant 1881 offers fine dining in a stunning setting

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine 2008

Restaurant reviewed: The Petersham, Nightingale Lane, Richmond, Surrey TW10 6UZ Tel: 020 8940 7471

A striking hotel and restaurant on the side of Richmond Hill, The Petersham offers spectacular views straight down to the Thames as well as fine dining at its best. But it does come at a price, as restaurant critic JOHN HUGHES discovered

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