|Roasted venison loin|
Fireworks, bubbles and feathers.... and not just on my plate. Where to begin with the tale of The Petersham?
The Petersham would be a terrific place to lunch on a clear day. It's posited high up on Richmond Hill in the grand old Petersham Hotel in Richmond, in prime position for glorious views over the Thames and surrounding meadows (see The London Foodie's blog for the day snaps). However, it's also pretty hard to beat it on Guy Fawkes night, when the hotel is lit up like something from a Golden Book and we sip our champagne watching the fireworks explode over the river.
Approaching the hotel is like wandering into a scene from Pride and Prejudice. It feels only right to start with champagne, and even better when it arrives in a 200ml bottle each (Joseph Perrier, £13.50).
Inside the decor is old school - classic and classy, it feels warm, romantic and elegant in the candlelight, if slightly like somewhere we should be in about 20 years time when we have a smart splash of grey hair and our own set of golf clubs.
Head chef, Alex Bentley, has gathered plenty of attractive options on the menu, but given the setting it feels right to stick to the seasonal "Glorious Game" menu.
|Seared partridge breast with truffle toast|
I start with the partridge (£13) - the perfectly seared breast nestles atop a rich black truffle toast with mushrooms (what better accompaniment could there be?) while the fabulously moist leg comes wrapped in a vine leaf. Both have an excellent, deep flavour although I find the leg a tad over salted.
TPG's tandoori spiced quail comes with shallot bhaji, chickpea salad, yellow tomato and mango (£12.50). The very Indian nature of this dish seems a little jarring in the setting, but the flavours here are fresh and vibrant, and the quail is superbly tender with lovely spices.
|Pot roasted grouse|
My pot roasted grouse. Oh my. If you like grouse, you'll love this. (And if you have your reservations, you'll almost definitely hate it). It's bloody, earthy and super gamey - you can almost taste the heath in the meat. The ends of the legs are still feathered up, which seems to add to the experience of eating something fresh from the hunt. It comes with a "game crouton" smothered in a luscious, rich pate, celeriac puree, braised red cabbage and a terrific bread sauce (£32.00). This is such an intense, memorable dish. I absolutely love it, but it's so immense in its rich "gameyness" that I'm unable to finish the last few bites.
TPG has the roasted venison loin (£23). It looks succulent and gorgeous, and the flavour is excellent although it's chewy. It's plated up with mushroom duxelle and walnuts, sweet potatoes, green beans and a well balanced chocolate and balsamic sauce.
|Apple tarte tartin|
|Vanilla rice pudding|
My gooey, apple tarte tartin with cinnamon ice-cream is a hit with us both (although I always think vanilla ice-cream makes for a better combination). TPG's chilled vanilla rice pudding is less of a success - it looks pretty, but the lemon flavour doesn't appeal and the accompanying tuile is slightly floppy. It's a minor lowlight in an otherwise fantastic meal. Perhaps we should have tried the rum baba? Puddings are £7 each.
Service is unobtrusive, but there when you need it. Our sommelier is particularly good and friendly. He recommends the Santenay 1er Cru, Domaine de la Pousse d'Or, Cotes de Beaune (£46) - big, fruity and earthy, it's a great accompaniment to our gamey meal. The wine list is extensive - and there's quite a few wines available for under £25, although there's nothing for less than £20.
The Glorious Game menu is available on an a la carte basis for dinner or for £24.50 as a 3 course set menu at lunch (£31.50 on Sundays) - although be warned that quite a few dishes carry a supplement.
The food, wine, service and overall experience are excellent - a great place to treat yourself. After coffees (with chocolate petite fours), our bill came to around £175 for two (plus service) although we did go for some of the more expensive options on the menu. It's not cheap, but you could dine here less extravagantly and you can expect fine quality to match the price.
The Petersham, Nightingale Lane, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 6UZ (Tel: 020 8640 7471)
Greedy Diva was a guest of The Petersham