Petersham Hotel and a summer stroll:
This year’s haphazard attempt at summer didn’t bode well for a trip to Petersham Hotel. While I’m a huge fan of Richmond (and can get there easily), the pretty village of Petersham is too close to warrant a taxi but far enough to be a little miserable if it’s raining. Of course, a taxi is exactly what I would have done had the weather not turned out to be splendid, one of the best days this year. And, the walk along the towpath, from Richmond to Petersham is truly glorious when the sun shines.
We reached the hotel, a magnificent Italian Gothic building, dating back to 1865 by John Giles, the same architect who designed the Langham Hotel in Portland Place. The striking hotel is well known for a magnificent three-story staircase, one of the largest unsupported stone staircases in the country.
It is a beautiful setting, the hotel looks out across Petersham Meadows to the bend in the Thames. The meadows are protected from development by an Act of Parliament passed in 1902, and the view has been painted by many famous artists, including Sir Joshua Reynolds and J M W Turner both of whom lived locally. What better place to enjoy a glass of champagne than on the terrace, looking out over the river.
The restaurant at the Petersham Hotel itself has pretty views out across the river too. A comfortable place to dine, it does have the feeling of being the kind of place you might take your parents for lunch. And, the extremely reasonable set price lunch menu (£26.95 for three courses) would make that a very tempting option. You could eat very well without visiting the a la carte, with a choice of three starters and main courses and two desserts.
The a la carte is a more formal affair. We picked the pickled shimeji and girolle mushrooms with sea lettuce, chia seeds and beetroot (£10) and the sauteed scallops with banana plantain, black pudding and parsnip puree (£15) to start and were delighted with both.
The plate of mushrooms mixed with roasted beetroot and with a delicious dressing was the vegetarian option but looked substantial enough. I have an allergy to chia seeds so couldn’t taste, but my companion seemed to love the concoction.
My own sauteed scallops were lifted from the conventional by the addition of fried plantain. It worked remarkably well providing just a touch more sweetness with the parsnip puree and black pudding. The scallops were perfectly cooked too.
For her main course, my companion picked the grilled whole dover sole (£34), which came with ratte potatoes, capers and brown butter sauce. Prepared for her at the table, it looked utterly delicious.
A perfect dish to eat looking out over ‘that’ view
I picked the loin of wild scottish halibut (£29), a delicious piece of fish which was served with a pea puree, chorizo, puy lentils and a dry sherry sauce. The addition of a little samphire was good, I thought the sauce was dominated by butter rather than having much taste of sherry. But, that’s not a bad thing.
Of course by this point in the meal, we were both rather full. But it would have been churlish to refuse dessert when there were such tempting things on the menu. In the end I picked the chocolate delice with honeycomb and vanilla mousse (£8).
I might have ordered the classic summer pudding with clotted cream (£8), but it’s a dish I have to avoid because of a mild allergy to strawberries. My companion loved hers, a light a tangy dish with a good dollop of cream on the side.
We rounded off the meal with coffee on that terrace, before walking back to Richmond station. Or perhaps I should say staggering? A perfect summer’s lunch in a stunning location. What could be better…
Petersham Hotel Nightingale Lane,
London TW10 6UZ, England.