The Dysart Petersham, Richmond TW10 7AA - restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 09:27 18 August 2014 | UPDATED: 12:45 31 March 2015

Ready for the summer

Ready for the summer

Archant

Headed by one of the revered Roux scholars, The Dysart Petersham has been building a reputation as a foodie haven of late. Matthew Williams pays a visit...

Pretty close to my perfect dishPretty close to my perfect dish

Restaurant reviewed: The Dysart Petersham, 135 Petersham Road, Richmond TW10 7AA Tel: 020 8940 8005

 

***

 

The low-down

 

Verdict:

Food 10

Venue 10

Service 10

 

What we ate:

• £60 tasting menu per person

• Wine match £29.50 per person (or beer match for £27.50)

• Vegetarian menu on request

Charred mackerel, kombu braised daikon, ginger and Champagne / Accompanied by Creamant d’Alsace, Bruno Sorg, France, NV

Veal sweetbreads, Roscoff onion, fennel and Muscat grapes / Accompanied by Saint-Veran, Domain Paquet, Burgundy 2012

Wild cod, spiced curry leaf sauce, kohlrabi and bok choi / Accompanied by Grüner Veltliner, Seifried, Nelson, New Zealand 2012

Huntsham Court Farm Longhorn beef, confit heritage carrot and miso mustard sauce / Accompanied by Minervois, (Grenace/Carigan/Syrah), Domaine le Cazal 2010

Raspberry and attar of rose sorbet

Valrhona Jivara chocolate and praline bar, miso salted caramel ice cream and gue de cacao / Accompanied by Malmsey Madeira, ten-year aged Blandy’s

 

***

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***

 

REVIEW: For some time now, Petersham – the tranquil, leafy village in the shadow of Richmond – has enjoyed something of a reputation as a foodie mecca.

Perhaps the best-known reason is Petersham Nurseries, which in recent years has held Michelin stars and attracted a clientele of the rich and famous.

Just down the road, however, a historic coaching inn has been quietly becoming a culinary hotspot in its own right.

Leading the kitchen at The Dysart Petersham is head chef Kenneth Culhane. Originally from Ireland and trained in Dublin, he’s learnt his trade across the continents with stints at top restaurants in Ireland, France, Australia, England and America before eventually finding his way to Richmond.

What is more, in 2010 he won the Roux Scholarship – an award launched in 1984 by the Roux Brothers, Albert and Michel, in a bid to enable a new generation of chefs from Britain to train in the greatest restaurants in the world. To give you an idea of its prestige, Steve Drake (he of the Michelin-starred Drake’s in Ripley) won the award in 2001.

Kenneth’s style is “fresh and distinctive, using local and foraged ingredients, together with numerous unusual herbs and vegetables grown especially for the restaurant,” manager Barny tells us, while seating us at one of their scrubbed wooden tables in the romantic interior.

 

Attention to detail

Artworks celebrating Richmond Park’s famous deer adorn the walls, a piano takes pride of place on the floor and lead lines the windows – while the bar, I’m told, originates from a decommissioned Napoleonic warship. The attention to detail is obvious. Apparently, the ceramics are made by local potters too.

On warmer nights, there’s a garden with full table service, views over Richmond Park and fairy lights sparkling in the trees.

Settled in, we admire the selection of menus on offer. A tasting menu at £60 per person with optional wine or beer flights (an additional £29.50 or £27.50 per person respectively), a set menu with two-courses (£18.50) and three-courses (£22.50) and the à la carte.

All offer intriguing options, which they say are “contemporary British food, rooted in tradition and founded securely on classical cooking skills and methods, subtly updated…” The miso, dashi and kombu mentions hint that there’s more than a little Japanese influence at play too.

We opt for the tasting menu with one wine flight. Well, we wouldn’t want to miss out, would we? With tantalising amuse-bouches and delicious Irish soda bread already delivered and dispatched with relish, our first course arrives.

Accompanied by a crémant d’Alsace, the charred mackerel, kombu-braised daikon, ginger and champagne dish is mouth-watering. As we’ll discover with a lot of Kenneth’s cooking in the evening, there’s a powerful initial punch that quickly settles – offering a wonderful surprise before relaxing to complement the rest of the dish. 



Music maestro


A few seats away, with the restaurant slowly filling, a jazz pianist takes to his stool and begins to tinkle at the ivories. 
It’s not difficult to get swept away in this sensory explosion, but the food remains the star of the show.

Delicate veal sweetbreads with Roscoff onion, fennel and Muscat grapes come next with a Saint-Véran. Then a fiery wild cod with spiced curry leaf sauce, kohlrabi and bok choi with a Grüner Veltliner. Both dishes balance subtlety and obviously beautiful ingredients with powerful flavours that, impressively, never threaten to overwhelm. The flavours just build and build with each mouthful. Those with a more classically trained musical mind than mine would no doubt be able to draw comparisons to the minor chord jazz renditions flowing from the piano on the night… as it is, I just want more.

If I could dream up my perfect dish, the beef course would not be far off – beautifully tender meat with two unbelievable sauces and crisp veg. It’s spectacular and the kind of food I could eat for days.

Alongside it is a Minervois, which, like the wine matching throughout, proved an excellent addition – adding to the magic rather than vying for attention (the beer flight option sounds intriguing too).

To clean the palate, a raspberry and attar of rose sorbet is provided before a wonderful dessert of Valrhona Jivara chocolate and praline bar, miso salted caramel ice cream and gue de cacao with a Madeira. It’s not a surprise when our ever-friendly waitress offers to finish it (the dessert, not the Madeira!), should it not happen to be to our tastes.

Suffice to say, The Dysart Petersham has joined the upper echelons of our very favourite restaurants. It’s certainly among the best we’ve reviewed over the years and its reputation is sure to flourish. Head there when the live music is flowing and it is a full sensory assault – but, a bit like the cooking, one that never threatens to overwhelm. The food is spectacular and the setting complements it beautifully.

 

***

 

3 MORE FROM OUR TOP TABLE

 

Drake’s

The Clock House, High Street, Ripley, Surrey GU23 6AQ 
Tel: 01483 224777

For many years, Steve Drake has been blazing a trail through the Surrey dining scene with his passion, imagination and a sense of humour in the kitchen.

 

Stovell’s

125 Windsor Road, Chobham, Surrey GU24 8QS
Tel: 01276 858000

Fernando and Kristy’s enthusiasm for their craft is truly infectious, the premises are stunning and the food is as good as it gets below Michelin star standard.

 

Michael Wignall at The Latymer

Pennyhill Park, London Road, Bagshot, Surrey GU19 5EU 
Tel: 01276 471774

An all-singing, all-dancing, night of entertainment. Spectacularly technical cooking combined with an artistic attention to detail.

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