Tel: +44 (0)20 8939 0265
Address: Richmond Hill, TW10 6RW
Cuisine Type: Modern European
One of the best things about living in London is the ease of access to its open spaces, for London is a surprisingly green city. The only downside is that after some strenuous jogging (or in my case, leisurely strolling) through the parks, there is a distinct lack of decent places within the parks themselves to go for some reviving refreshments. Park cafes tend to offer the same overpriced uninspiring chiller cabinet sandwiches, limp pre-packaged salads and bottled juices and, with the notable exception of The Belvedere in Holland Park, fine dining is not really an option.
Which means that if, like me, you want to combine a walk in the park with an indulgent meal out (either a pre-prandial power walk to work up a healthy appetite, or a relaxing saunter afterwards to walk off some of the food), the trick is to find restaurants that are close enough to the park that it doesn’t feel like too much of an extra journey to get there.
And so it was that I found myself in Pembrokes Restaurant at the Richmond Hill Hotel, just minutes from the gates of Richmond Park. Housed in a Grade II listed building, Pembrokes has been redecorated to combine period features with a more contemporary feel. There is a cosy bar and the dining room, with its full length windows, is flooded with natural light. Shortly after being seated, a chilled bottle of Chilean white (£13.50) before us, we felt very much at home.
The menu is divided into a casual dining section, available all day, featuring light meals (£5-£14) such as Caesar salad, eggs Benedict and Aberdeen Angus burger with French fries and coleslaw, and a section for more sophisticated lunch and dinner dishes, which we opted for.
To start, I had carpaccio of beetroot with honey glazed duck, a winning combination of sweet-sharp disks of wafer thin beetroot and flavoursome slivers of duck breast (£6.95). The bloke ordered a classic starter of smoked salmon with caper berries and shallots (£5.95), served just the way it should be, even down to the little triangles of buttered brown bread. The pumpkin and Amaretto soup (£4.95) also sounded like a great winter warmer, perfect after bracing walks once the weather turns even colder.
Our main courses were equally satisfying, mine a generous braised lamb shank served with a white bean blanquette and truffle mash (£19.50), The Bloke’s a hearty panfried calves liver with creamed chicory and pancetta, served medium rare and topped with red onion jus (£16). Fish dishes such as salmon and smoked haddock fishcakes with sorrel hollandaise (£13.95) or seared sea bass fillets with poached saffron potatoes (£19) have plenty of appeal, and vegetarians are catered for with options like parmesan and herb gnocchi with cep mushrooms and artichokes (£13.95).
Having eaten more than I’d walked off earlier, I toyed with the idea of skipping dessert, but only for as long as it took for me to spot the white chocolate and brioche pudding (£4.25) on the menu. Who was I kidding? Dessert is my favourite course! Pembrokes didn’t disappoint with its ultra-rich, extra decadent version of a traditional bread and butter, thick slices of fluffy brioche embedded with juicy raisins and paired with a creamy white chocolate sauce. The Bloke showed considerably more restraint, content with a latte that did our waiter, a self-confessed coffee perfectionist, proud.
The drinks list features a mix of old and new world wines, as well as an extensive choice of smoothies, juices, milk shakes, cocktails and hot drinks.
Pembrokes is the sort of laid back, family friendly place that is great for any occasion – weekend brunch, coffee or afternoon tea, a light bite or a slap up meal – whether or not you fancy combining it with a walk in the park.