I fancied a Pad Thai, and checked the 'Scores on Doors' website to see how the Thai restaurants in Richmond fared. Hmmm…. let's just say there are a couple of them I won't be going to again. Thankfully Thai Elephant scored well enough so that is where we headed one Sunday for lunch.
Thai Elephant, located next to the Richmond Bus Station, looks old-fashioned from the outside and the inside is much the same. Simple, comfortable decor and family friendly from the looks of our fellow diners. We were greeted at the door by a smiley waiter, though our waitress was less smiley, more surly. Loved their elephant t-shirts though.
Favorite Dish: I ordered the aforementioned Pad Thai, with chicken, and Alex had the Beef Jungle Curry with Coconut Steamed Rice. Dishes were served piping hot, portion sizes were good and flavours as expected. Nothing amazing, but honest.
Finally set foot in the Dukes Head after living up the road from it for a couple of years. The interior is cosy, with a bar in the middle and the seating area divided in half, with what appeared to be a dedicated dining area on one side. I think there may be a small beer garden too.
It was Sunday lunch, and it was fairly quiet when we arrived, so we took our pick of tables in the dining area. The tables were fully laid, complete with serviettes sticking out of wine glasses, and cute Dukes Head placemats. Our table, which was set for four people, was surely too small for four to eat at comfortably, thankfully there were only two of us.
The barmaid/waitress who served us was very smiley and friendly, and it didn't take long till she came over and took our order. There was a very short Sunday lunch menu, with three starters, three roast options, and four desserts. You may have been able to order off the regular menu as well, but we didn't enquire as we wanted a Sunday roast anyway.
Favorite Dish: We started with a bowl of Homemade cream of tomato soup with freshly baked bread. The soup was very creamy and had a good roasted tomato flavour. Some of the bread we were given, although it did seem freshly baked, was seemingly not freshly cut as it had dried out a little.
For main course we both had the 21 day hung extra mature roast beef with all the trimmings. The roast was served on a very large plate, which was filled with a decent serving of nicely cooked beef, a good Yorkshire pud, tasty roasted parsnip, carrots, potatoes, creamy cauliflower and even some red cabbage.
Oh, just a couple of complaints - the music was terrible, to my taste anyway, some sort of classical/opera which I found too heavy and depressing for Sunday lunch. And I think it is time to get some new toilet seats in the Ladies, and a toilet paper holder wouldn't go astray either.
Minor issues aside, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and the relatively cheap prices, and may well put the Dukes Head on our Sunday lunch rotation.
I rarely eat Indian food. I like it, but it doesn't like me. But when I kept reading good reports about a new Indian restaurant called Swagat, located just down the road from my place, curiosity got the better of me.
We arrived to a warm greeting from the smiling staff, and enjoyed their friendly, courteous service throughout our meal. The menu was more up-market than your standard curry house and there was plenty that caught our eye.
Favorite Dish: In the end we ordered one starter, two main courses, rice and naan. My favourite dish was the starter, Aloo Tikki Chaat, which was Spiced potato cake served on a bed of tangy chickpeas, very delish. In fact, all the food was excellent, the chicken and lamb curries were not at all oily, with well marinated, very tender meat.
The portion sizes were generous, and as we waddled home we were very pleased to have discovered another excellent Richmond restaurant.
The Orangery is a café and self-service restaurant located in Kew Gardens, hence only accessible to those who have paid to access the Gardens. It is housed in an attractive Grade 1 listed building, with a sunny terrace at the front for those rare, drizzle free days.
I recently visited Kew Gardens with a friend and we stopped by the Orangery for some morning tea. The self-service area is very clean and well fitted out. The food they were preparing for lunch looked and smelt good, and I was pleased by the large selection of fresh-looking cakes.
Favorite Dish: My friend had a coffee and a slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake, while I had a pot of tea and a slice of Chocolate & Coconut Cake. As it is self-serve, we could choose which slice we wanted which was particularly useful in this case as the size of the slices varied greatly! Believe it or not, I didn't choose the biggest slice.
Inside is a large, bright dining area, but as the autumn sun was shining we headed for the terrace and enjoyed our morning tea, along with a gossip and some squirrel spotting.
Fishworks is one of those (supposedly) more upmarket chain restaurants that you have meant to go to for ages but have never made it there. Well, a 50% off food offer finally inspired us to give it a try for lunch one Sunday.
We headed to our local branch in Richmond. I liked the look of the place - it was nice and bright with a large sky-light helping to brighten up the grey and rainy last day of summer.
Favorite Dish: We shared a starter of South Coast Crab Cakes, which had an interesting texture and some tasty dipping sauce. For main course we had the Organic Salmon Fillet with hollandaise sauce; and the Baked Monk Fish with ratatouille.
The most positive thing I can say about the food was that the fish seemed to be good quality - and rightly so as there is a fish mongers attached to the restaurant.
But we thought the food was overpriced, particularly when you have to order sides with many of the dishes. My £14.50 salmon became expensive once I ordered side orders of greens and potatoes, as the menu price just gets you the piece of fish. Coupled with this, the meals were unattractively presented on grotty looking, greasy plates. Not good enough.
Red Café is our local café though we never go there. It looks inviting enough, with lots of tables out the front on the shady terrace. There are always plenty of people drinking coffee and reading the paper, along with 'Old Mate' with his year round tan and never-ending cigar. Ok, we have been a couple of times over the years, but the very average coffee and unenthusiastic service had put us off.
Recently, friends who live nearby kept mentioning that they often pop in for a weekend fry-up if they are feeling a little worse for wear, so when a sunny Sunday dawned and we didn't feel like the usual bowl of cereal for brekkie, we ventured up the road to give the local caff another chance.
Favorite Dish: Thankfully 'Old Mate' and his cigar hadn't arrived yet, so we settled down with the paper and ordered the Full English and a pot of tea (still not game to chance the coffee). Food was good value, though eggs and bacon a bit too greasy for my liking, but do-able occasionally. A nice place to sit and read the Sunday paper though…well, until the cigar smoke becomes too much.
Cote Richmond is the 3rd restaurant to open in what is looking like being a chain of French Bistros. This Richmond offering opened at the end of June 2008, and I watched the renovations with interest, venturing in for lunch a couple of weeks after they opened.
Favorite Dish: We started with some Pissaladiere (flat bread) to share, which had Reblochon cheese & thyme on top. Whilst still eating this our main courses appeared (when I complained they said that the bread is not counted as a starter, hence the mains are not delayed). Main courses were the Mushroom Crepes; Steak Frites; and the Half Roast Chicken (the latter two being Weekend Specials).
Had a couple of different wines by the glass which were nice and decently priced. No room for dessert this visit. Liked the stylish décor and the relaxed atmosphere. Service was a little stilted, but it was only early days. Prices were reasonable and food quality good.
Brouge is a Belgian restaurant and beer hall which is newly opened in Richmond (July 2008). It is housed in an atmospheric basement which was previously home to a tapas restaurant. When the last restaurant closed and sign said a Belgian place was opening we were excited - nothing like some Moules et Frites, with some good Belgian beer to wash them down.
We headed to Brouge for lunch one Sunday, just a few days after they opened. Thankfully there were a few tables occupied, and our waitress said they had been pleased so far with local response. We liked the feel of the place and the staff were very enthusiastic. The drinks menu contains over 40 different Belgian beers, so there should be something for everyone.
Favorite Dish: For lunch we had the Lemongrass & Basil scented Mussels cooked in coconut cream, which was served with chips and bread; and the Homemade Steak, Mushroom & Belgian Ale pie, served with stoemp (a mashed mix of vegetables). Both meals were very enjoyable. The pie was full of flavour and the pastry so buttery. Initially the mussels seemed to be a small serve, but proved to be a good amount, and the creamy lemongrassy sauce was perfect. Chips were good too.
Too full for dessert, we regretfully rejected the Belgian waffles and Apple flans. We will just have to try those next time.
This is a great place to sit and have a cup of tea or coffee and of course a bit of pastry. The cafe is situated in the Terrace Gardens about a minute from the Thames walk. The gardens are super and the cafe has a great vibe. The views from the terrace and really good to. And being a fair trade cafe you know that you are supporting a worthwhile cause of a better deal for 3rd World producers.
Favorite Dish: Best tea with a view in Richmond!!!
St Margarets Tavern, or Maggies as I have heard the locals call it, is one of the best watering holes in London. The food menu is most interesting and the quality of the food is outstanding. Add to this the unique atmosphere of one of London's finest taverens and you have the ideal spot to enjoy a relaxing meal or a quiet drink or two. There is a good range of popular and local beers and wines. The locals are all very friendly and the bar staff, most of them foreign, are also reasonably friendly.
Favorite Dish: The duck, bangers and mash, beef ale pie, lamb cutlets..... there are many
Spurred on by some positive reviews, the fact that the restaurant is close to home, and by an interest in trying some Austrian wines, we headed to Café Strudel one evening, my mother-in-law in tow.
Initial impressions were good. Loved the look of the restaurant - simply and tastefully decorated, tables not too crammed in and lighting comfortable. The hostess/owner was a delight. Friendly, enthusiastic, patient and passionate, she really added to our enjoyment of the place.
Not being familiar with Austrian wines, we sought advice and then all chose a different wine by the glass, and were pleasantly surprised by the wines we sampled.
Favorite Dish: To start, my MIL had the Smoked duck terrine with orange compote, which looked great and tasted fine, though it was not quite what she was expecting (I think she thought it would be more pate like).
Main course was the Wiener Schnitzel with creamy mash and lambs lettuce; the Beef Goulash with savoy cabbage rosti and stuffed potato dumplings; and the Sea bass with lobster spatzle and lobster sauce. All dishes were great - the goulash got the thumbs up from our goulash connoisseur, and I really enjoyed the sea bass which was not over-salted as sea bass often is (to my palate anyway).
We shared two desserts - the Chocolate & hazelnut tart with vanilla ice cream and spicy chocolate sauce; and Chocolate fondant with poached strawberries. The fondant was over-cooked and was missing that rich gooey centre that we all love. The tart was much better, and the perfect ending to an enjoyable meal.
The Hope is a pretty new Richmond pub, which has risen from what was Molly Malones. It looks more gastro-pub than pub-pub, but the food leans towards the later.
Always keen to try somewhere new (and most importantly, within walking distance from home) we popped in for lunch one Sunday. Although we received a friendly welcome we almost walked straight back out again as the music was bad.... if you are a fan of 'High School Musical' you would have loved it, though surely even you would tire of listening to the whole album in one sitting.
Service was eager to please but inexperienced. Perhaps a bit more time studying the menu, and familiarising themselves with the (miniscule) wine list would be beneficial.
Favorite Dish: The menu had plenty of options, broken into sections such as "Little Bits" and "Sandwichy Things", though we ordered from the "Yummy Nibbles and Ample Mains" selection. We both went for the Ribeye Steak, served with fries and salad. Happily the steak was flavoursome and nicely cooked and the salad was fresh, though the chips were not cooked enough and pretty average.
The Hope has a small beer garden which should keep the smokers happy, and a cupboard full or board games which will no doubt become popular as the days become shorter. Not sure I would rush back for a meal at this stage, but would certainly return for a drink in the future.
Maki is a Japanese restaurant that opened in Richmond in November 2007. A friend told me she had noticed it from the bus recently, but hadn't tried it as yet. I decided to beat her to it, and dragged hubby there for lunch the day after she mentioned it.
Arriving at Maki, we tried not to be put off by the empty dining room - there was one other couple, and a family of four. The friendly welcome from the manager helped, as did the sign advertising their lunch special - Bento Boxes at only £6.
Favorite Dish: We both ordered a Chicken Teriyaki Bento Box, which came with Miso soup, salad, Vegetable Gyozas, rice and Teriyaki chicken. The meals certainly looked nice on first impression, and flavours were fine, though nothing amazing.
The waitress who served us was not very friendly, and I hated the way she cleared hubby's dish while I was still eating, and the way she attempted to clear our glasses when we hadn't finished our drinks yet. The music was terrible too - an odd mixture of bad classical music with some Christmas songs mixed in.
Oh well, our meal was pretty cheap, and the manager was nice. We won't be rushing back, though perhaps I will return one day and sample their sushi once business picks up a bit for them.
*** We returned in April 2008 and had a great lunch - fresh and tasty sushi and sashimi. Service was much improved. Would recommend now! ***
As we weren't going away for Easter, I decided that a nice lunch was in order on Easter Sunday - and what's nicer than a big juicy steak and a couple of glasses of ballsy read wine! With that in mind, a visit to Gaucho in Richmond was in order.
For those not familiar with Gaucho (aka Gaucho Grill), they are a classy chain of Argentinian steak restaurants. Having eaten at the Piccadilly branch a couple of years earlier, I must confess that I wasn't a huge fan - at that visit my steak had been disappointing and the service pretty bad. But I headed to the Richmond branch with a positive attitude, hoping for a good Gaucho experience.
Service was friendly from arrival, and we were seated at a comfy table with distant views of the river. Loved the décor, especially the cow-hide covered walls and leather chairs. The steak board was presented, where they show you the various cuts of steak on offer and explain the differences.
Favorite Dish: We both opted for the Rib-eye. I chose the 300g, while Alex chose the 400g, along with sides of thin hand-cut chips and some Humitas (pureed corn dish with way too much garlic). My steak was delicious - more medium rare than the requested medium, with that melt-in-your-mouth quality that you want in your rib-eye. Unfortunately Alex's steak wasn't so good - it was good quality, but had a pan fried taste to it and didn't melt like mine did. A bottle of Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon was an excellent accompaniment to our meal.
At the waitresses recommendation, we shared the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake for dessert. Delicious, but very rich, I'm glad we were sharing. We didn't linger there over coffee, but headed home for a cuppa and some more Easter eggs.
The White Swan is an historic Richmond pub which was built in 1777. It is located not far from the river, on a narrow street that runs along the wall of the old Richmond Palace. It is more gastropub than pub these days, and is a very popular place with locals, particularly for Sunday lunch. The dining area is split over two rooms, and there is a lovely outdoor section to the rear.
We dropped by for lunch one Sunday - I rang one day in advance and as there was just the two of us they managed to fit us in. The pub was almost full when we arrived, and they were turning people away not long after that.
Favorite Dish: The menu, printed daily, was short - 5 starters, 6 mains and 5 desserts. We decided to go for the more traditional Sunday lunch options - the Roast Beef and the Roast Lamb. Both were served with roast potatoes, cauliflower with cheese, and seasonal vegetable, and of course the beef came with a Yorkshire pudding. Both meals were very tasty, though the lamb was the standout.
An enjoyable meal, friendly service, and a great old pub are a good recipe for Sunday lunch - we will return.