We arrived at The Petersham Hotel for lunch and sat in the perfect spot overlooking the famous bend in the River Thames near Richmond Hill that has been painted innumerous times over the ages by such eminent artists as Turner. Even Wordsworth had a word or two to say about the nightingales in the area hence hotel is situated is Nightingale Lane. For those poetry lovers here’s a snippet…
“Fame tells of groves – from England far away –
Groves that inspire the Nightingale to trill
And modulate, with subtle reach of skill
Elsewhere unmatched, her ever-varying lay;
Such bold report I venture to gainsay:
For I have heard the quire of Richmond hill”
One could imagine King Henry VIII being borne down the short distance down the river to Hampton Court whilst contemplating whose head to remove next.
The hotel is classy and the welcome couldn’t have been bettered as a smartly dressed man opened the door upon arrival. The restaurant is next to the bar area with the same beautiful view. The restaurant has a classic feel with crisp white table cloths, waiters in black waistcoats with white shirts and the staff well-trained to give you a very warm welcome. We drank gin & tonics (of course) then walked from the bar to the dining room which had begun to fill up. I surveyed the arrivals. Fortescue and I had made an effort to dress up. Flannels, jacket and tie. The assembling crowd had not. They were attired as if they might be sitting at home watching television. No doubt if one had looked at their feet some would be wearing slippers! Too lazy to change. Harrumph!
The Petersham is an old favourite of my chum Fortescue and myself although one does not return frequently enough. In tow was Fortescue’s brother, Fortescue the Elder. The set lunch menu was good value at £22.95 for two courses or £26.95 for three as we knew that the quality would be good and it didn’t disappoint. We ordered, then suddenly there was a scream and a scruffy parent came in carrying a 3 year old child who was placed in a high chair not far from us. Then their was a scream from further away from another small child in a high chair. It became apparent that about five tables in this fairly compact restaurant had toddlers in high chairs. Why was this? Were they all having birthdays and couldn’t leave junior at home? Nor be bothered to dress up! Surely the wonderful thing about going to a classy establishment is that one eats in elegant surroundings with reasonably refined company. If one cannot be bothered to treat such a destination with respect surely you should be in Ronald McDonald’s with your kiddies meal, a strawberry shake and bunch of balloons?
Fortunately, the children were pretty well behaved and one cannot really complain…any further. The odd scream or two seemed to be stifled pretty quickly. One tries not to be a prude but one is saddened by the fall in standards over the years. Anyhow, surely you want to hear about the food? Well maybe I have rambled too much but it was tasty fare. One started with Mackerel Escabeche and followed it with the breast of Cotswold chicken which was corn fed and very tasty. It was quite a large portion for those who appreciate such things so one would not leave hungry. (one must confess that one had already eaten half the chicken before taking the photograph above…apologies mes amis). Fortescue, ever the epicure, wolfed down his ham hock terrine with accompanying grunts of delight which one assumes meant that it was good. We drank a Macon Bussiere which was extremely palatable with creamy, vanilla oak flavours and one would highly recommend.
No dessert for F. and myself but F. The Elder chose banana cake with caramel and peanut ice cream which he too wolfed down. One could tell that they were brothers! Excellent coffee was accompanied by petit fours which we all tried not to eat but they all disappeared despite our protestations. Guilty mes amis, as charged, yes one did eat the odd one or so.
Overall it was a very good, well presented meal. It’s not up there with a Michelin star but then it isn’t priced at that level. It is excellent value. On a sunny day the view across the river is worth the money on its own. As we departed, I asked one of the staff whether there were always so many small children at Saturday lunch. “No” came the reply “we’re all taking valium”. So with that fact, one can say that a return is on the cards before too long.
The Petersham Hotel
Surrey, TW10 6UZ
Tel: +44 (0)20 8940 7471