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I had often walked past the magnificent old building you can see in the image, obviously an old church, which currently serves as an Arts Centre having been deconsecrated. One day recently, having a little spare time on my hands, I decided to go in and see what it had to offer. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, an art exhibition perhaps or some sort of arts class going on. In the event, there was one lady setting out chairs and another on the desk at the door. I explained that I had just been passing and was interested in the building and she was very charming and told me all about it.
I'll give you a potted history of the place. It was consecrated in 1889, dedicated to St. Alban the Martyr and continued as a place of Anglican worshipuntil the 1970's when the bulding was deconsecrated and the congregation moved to the smaller church across the road. It was known, in it's heyday as "the Cathedral of the Thames" and it is not difficult to see why. It is a truly magnificent structure and would certainly have been fit to be a cathedral. I stand to be corrected but I believe the architectural style is Gothic. It is cavernous inside and was designed to house a congregation of 1200. There are still certain reminders of the past use although not many. There are a few pleasant stained glass windows and the pulpit still stands although many of the other artefacts were removed. The pulpit is in a very odd position being halfway down the side of the main area not at the front as is usual in such buildings. I really have no idea what the thinking behind this was but the pulpit itself is a very fine piece of work and worth a look.
There are various classes and workshops and fairs throughout the year with full details on the attached website but it is primarily a performance space featuring music, comedy nights and a host of other things. Again, the website is the best guide here.
As I said, it is not primarily designed for visiting when there is not an event on but I am sure of you go "on spec" as I did, you will be made most welcome, I know I was. It is worth the time.
Written Sep 18, 2012
Address: Ferry Road, Teddington, TW11 9NN.
Phone: +00 44 (0)20 8977 7558
OK, I admit it is an odd title for a tip, and I fully appreciate that the tip will be of interest to only a very small minority of VT readers. That small minority are those who, like me, adore the surreal lunacy that was the Monty Python phenomenon.
One of my favourite sketches from the Tv series was the fish slapping dance. This consists of John Cleese and Michael Palin, dressed in tropical attire complete with topees and shorts. Mimicking an English Morris dance, Palin jigs about slapping a deadpan Cleese on the face with a couple of small fish. After he finishes, Cleese produces a concealed huge salmon (at least I think it is), belts Palin round the side of the head with it causing him to fall into an adjacent river lock. I admit it sounds ludicrous and not very funny, but I assure you it is hilarious. If you want to look, here is the link.
If you look closely, you will see a small hut beside the lock. Have a look at the photo and you will see that it was filmed in Teddington Lock. Just a small thing but I thought it might interest someone.
Written Oct 3, 2009
Readers of my other pages, London, Richmond etc. will know how much I love the River Thames. Indeed, I have walked most of it's length. Teddington lies on the river, and there is a pleasant well-signposted walk along it's banks. The official Thames Path website gives more complete details. It is a delightful walk almost any time of year.
Updated Oct 3, 2009
As I have mentioned in numerous other tips, specifically restaurant tips, I am a great believer in local knowledge and it was due to a local friend that we visited the King's Head Brasserie in Hight Street Teddington recently. Jonathan, a good friend who has lived in the area for some time, recommended it and specifically mentioned the service. Jonathan owns the excellent Middle Cottage bed and breakfast nearby and he told me that he had directed many of his guests here with excellent results. He even gave us a lift there, delightful host that he is.
As the name suggests, it is a former pub and still also serves that function with a delightful drinking area at the front of the premises. Had we not been dining, a couple of drinks here would have been most pleasant and this is an area with some very comfortable pubs.
The Brasserie boasts the name of Raymond Blanc, an internationally renowned chef whom I greatly admire and several of the menu items boast a BB symbol on the menu signifying Brasserie Blanc as their prevenance. Having done a little research I feel it is more of a franchise operation and the great man is rarely there, although at least the management are completely upfront about it and I know it is common in the restaurant trade. We attended on a midweek Autumn night and had no trouble getting a table which we were shown to by an extremely charming waiter. I should say here that service, as my Jon had suggested was exemplary throughout, full marks for that.
The menu is quite extensive and the choice was difficult. My companion and I opted for the Fisherman's board to share as a starter. This comprises Hot smoked Loch Duart salmon, potted smoked Cornish mackerel, crab mayonnaise and, although not mentioned on the menu, some delightful pickled cucumber. The whole was served with a warmed baguette and was simply delightful. A great start.
For mains we diverged. My friend ordered one of the most strangely named dishes I have ever seen on a menu, namely Priest Strangler pasta with a parsley and walnut pistou. Two things here. Why exactly this particular farinaceous dish leads to the strangulation of Christian clerics I have no idea and I had never heard of pistou before. A little internet research shows that pistou is a sauce made from garlic, olive oil and fresh basil, so like a pesto without the pinenuts really. As for strangling priests, apparently it refers to the type of pasta employed which is called strozzapreti and is supposed to resemble a rolled towel. I didn't investigate any further but I did try a mouthful and it was extremely tasty.
For my part, I had opted for Mr.s Keen's gammon steak, fried duck egg and creamy mash as opposed to the more usual chips (fries). As you can see from the image, it was presented delightfully and I was really looking forward to it. the mash was amongst the creamiest and tastiest I have ever had and I know a thing or two about potatoes being from Northern Ireland! I love duck eggs and this one was cooked to perfection. Now we come to the problem. I fully appreciate that gammon is likely to be salted therefore I had not seasoned it at table but it was incredibly salty. This was a shame as it was nicely cooked and the texture was excellent. I do not know if this was just a one off, a bad batch of gammon steaks or whatever but it really was so salty that I could not finish it. I cannot believe that any cook worth the name would have salted it in cooking so I can only conclude it was like that when it reached the kitchen.
This was such a shame as everything else had been so good. I would probably give it another go but steer clear of the gammon. I do dislike writing negative reports but I also like to write honest tips so here you have it.
To the logistics. the pub is open Mon-Sat: 11am to 11pm and Sunday: 12 midday to 10pm and the brasserie Mon-Thurs: 12 midday to 10pm, Fri & Sat: 12 midday to 10.30pm, Sunday: 12 midday to 9pm. There is limited parking at the premises.
Favorite Dish: The fisherman's board starter was absolutely superb.
Updated Sep 16, 2012
Address: 123 High Street, Teddington TW11 8HG
Phone: +00 44 (0)203 166 2900
Update February 2011.
Regular readers will know that I like to keep my tips up to date, especiaally regarding restaurants, so it is with considerable sadness that I have to report that this wonderful place is now shut. I shall leave the tip as a memento of a great little restaurant.
Whilst looking for somewhere to eat in Teddington on a Thursday night, I was somewhat surprised to find out that by just before ten in the evening virtually every kitchen had already closed. More or less by default, we went into the Trattoria Sorrento which, it transpired, was still serving. Ordinarliy, I am wary of places that are empty, as this was, although I am now at a loss to know why.
Possibly understandably the welcome was warm from what appeared to be father and daughter. The decor is very typical, almost retro, trattoria style, as you can see from the photo, very clean and tidy. My companion and I opted for the set menu which at £14:95 per head for three courses represents good value in what is a fairly affluent part of greater London.
I started with sardines, simply but perfectly panfried,and obviously very fresh. I followed that with quail in wine sauce served with potatoes and beans, which was very flavoursome. As a side note, the quail was better presented than it appears in the photo. I had started to dismember the bird before I remembered to take the photo. Not much of a sweet eater, I finished with a simple ice cream.
My companion started with a simple mozarella and tomato salad, followed by a veal escalope in a tmato sauce. I snaffled a mouthful of this and it was very tender and tasty. Orange slices in a warm sauce brought up the rear.
Whilst no expert I found the house white wine (a Piemontese 2008) very drinkable.
Whilst certainly no Locanda Locatelli, Trattoria Sorrento, on the basis of my one visit, serves good simple Italian food at prices that won't break the bank. what more would you want?
Updated Feb 8, 2011
Address: 132 High St, Teddington, TW11 8JB
Phone: +00 44 (0)208 977 4757