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The Bingham, Richmond-upon-Thames

Louise Elgin's trip to SW suburbia was definitely worth it!

If the exact address of Mole and Ratty (of Wind in the Willows fame)  were known, I expect it would have been at Richmond Upon Thames. For here lies an exceptionally beautiful part of the river, where I dined in a perfect setting on a rare balmy spring evening recently.

The Bingham is predominately an exclusive boutique hotel that opens its doors to diners in the evenings. Its chic and plush interior cleverly combines an art deco style with classic Georgian architecture. There’s a rather slick bar serving all sorts of cocktails, and an elegant and spacious dining room complete with large French windows leading directly onto a heated terrace. Here one can enjoy the river in all its glory.

The restaurant’s menu is fairly short and concise, with a choice of five starters and six main courses. To begin, amongst others, there was Foie Gras served with fig chutney, mature stilton and carrot soufflé, and a chilled courgette and mint soup. I began with a plate of rare, blue fin tuna, served with aubergine, kiwi and balsamic strawberries. The tuna was beautifully tender, yet I couldn’t help feeling it was a rather odd marriage of tastes and flavours. Our other choice, monkfish tempura medallions, served with a gribiche sauce was a real corker! As pretty as a picture, with wonderfully light poppy seed tempura batter, giving way to succulent fish beautifully seasoned, with a delightful tarragon flavour. We shared a bottle of Marlborough unoaked Chardonnay, Kim Crawford, New Zealand, 2003; this was smooth and rich with pleasant buttery overtones.

To follow, choices included a risotto of crab served with tempura and asparagus, red mullet with goat’s cheese and aubergine clafoutis, or halibut with a herb and walnut crust on buttered salsifi. My guest chose an Angus fillet steak served with Camembert cheese and plum and rocket salad. The presentation was stylish; the meat tender and the overall flavours well matched. My cannon of lamb served with rosemary mash and figs was pure comfort food on a plate, a generous helping, and as with everything served it was well cooked using fresh, good quality ingredients.

To finish there was a choice of four puddings or a selection of French cheeses. We tried the fig bread and butter pudding served with praline ice-cream. This was a little disappointing, the pudding’s consistency rather too dry, and the ice-cream  too sweet. Our other choice, a trio of chocolate was every dietician’s nightmare but tasted spot on. Served beautifully on a rectangular plate this was a wonderful melange of tastes and flavours consisting of a sorbet, soufflé and deeply rich fondant. All were wonderfully rich and no doubt highly calorific, but we weren’t in the mood to care!

The Bingham is a little gem really worth searching out. Next time the weather’s good leave London’s urban jungle behind and discover this little piece of paradise on the river.

Louise Elgin. June 2005

Starters from £6.00 
Mains from £12.00 
Puddings from £6.50 
Wines from £14.00
Dinner for two with a bottle of wine about £50 a head.

The Bingham 
61-63 Petersham Road, Richmond Surrey 
Tel: 0208 940 0902

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