Call me lazy (for that is what I am) but despite numerous promises to myself over the past few years that I would visit the gorgeous South-West London area of Richmond, I had, until this weekend, never mustered the energy to organise my life and make my way down into this unknown green and leafy territory, despite it having a tube service running directly to its centre (even if it is the District Line, ugh!) and many of the wonderful characteristics that I so often crave when trapped in the confines of Zone 1. But this weekend, with the glorious weather and a need to escape Central London, I forced my friend to accompany me on an exploration mission to the depths of Zone 4 in search of food, scenery and wild deer.
On route I searched for restaurants that met our criteria: delicious and with a riverside view. A fair few came up as an option, but none had reviews to rival The Bingham Hotel & Restaurant, so we pinged it into the SatNav and off we went.
The Bingham is a gorgeous boutique hotel, destination restaurant and sun filled cocktail bar in one. Set within a Georgian townhouse overlooking the Thames, the restaurant is chic and has a reputation as a gourmet bolt-hole for gastronomic experiences. It is aesthetically ideal for a wedding and events venue, with a beautifully manicured garden and terrace. The Kitchen team are renowned for creating natural, modern British cuisine using the finest, locally sourced seasonal, sustainable ingredients.
Reservations are recommended, however we just walked in and waited less than ten minutes for a table on the terrace overlooking the beautiful gardens and slow flowing river. While we waited we enjoyed some fresh garlic olives, nuts and wasabi peas alongside a gorgeous glass of their Languedoc pale rosé.
We dined on Sunday, meaning the only option was to dine from their £38 three course menu. A little pricey but there was a choice of four dishes per course and when our food arrived it was obvious the culinary skill that was behind each of the dishes.
I started with the Mackerel served alongside a few elegant dollops of light creamy cheese and perfectly cubed watermelon, while Josh chose the Asparagus with perfectly cooked poached egg and beautifully thin slices of parma ham. Visually mine was a masterpiece, with the gorgeous deep pink of the watermelon alongside the tenderly chargrilled flesh of the mackerel, though mine was beaten on taste hands down by Josh’s bold flavour-filled plate in which the saltiness of the ham married beautifully with the fresh crispness of the asparagus. The flavours of mine were refreshing, summery and light but the impact on the tastebuds was nothing in comparison.
As it was a Sunday and I am never one to pass up a roast dinner, I chose the Roasted Sirloin with mixed greens, potatoes and a generously sized and well risen Yorkshire Pudding, though you’ll noticed from the picture, a slosh of gravy was absent which was a bit of an initial shock… I mean, a roast dinner without gravy?! Surely not.
How delicious this plate of food was ‘sans gravy’ is a testament to how succulent and beautifully cooked it was. While I may have liked a small drizzle of jus, the roasted sirloin was tender and juicy, and the vegetables were crunchy. The Yorkshire Pud was beautiful, with a crisp lip and a lovely doughy bottom which soaked up the juices from the meat like a tasty sponge. But it was the potatoes for me that championed this hearty plate, with a fluffy centre and an almost buttery skin.
Josh’s Hake on the other hand had a bit more elegance to it, with a few delicate flavours that were elevated by a few bold elements tucked away under the colourful salsa of tomatoes and dill. Deep fried and unassuming, what we assumed to be fish cheeks dotted around the plate, were sublime, with a bold, meaty flavour and a chewy (but not unpleasant) consistency.
Dessert was a pretty little plate of Blueberry cheesecake, and a quenelle of light sorbet on a bed of sweet, oaty granola. The cheesecake was creamy and light, like a mousse, with the subtlest of blueberry sweetness throughout. The small blueberries perched on the top made for a gorgeous burst of juiciness, and the sorbet added a gentle sharpness to the plate. It wasn’t overpowering, rather it was the perfect summer’s afternoon end to the meal.
Though it wasn’t quite the end. The mark of a fine restaurant is the offering of a few petit fours to end your meal. Alongside our bill (which wasn’t too devastating for a Sunday lunch in such a wonderful location) we were served a gorgeously rich chocolate truffle and a cube of delightfully light and chewy nougat, which just so happened to go beautifully with the last remaining sips of my rosé.
Our entire Bingham experienced had the soundtrack of a very accomplished violinist busking on the banks of the river, along with attentive and friendly service. Though prices are a little greater than an average pub Sunday lunch, very few can compete with such a beautiful and relaxing setting. If you have been putting off the journey down to the South-West London depths, may this be your motivation to finally make the effort.