I find that as I mature, my willingness to travel further in search of food seems to diminish.
In retort, when people complain that I do not seem as spry as I used to be, I respond that that is what an office job does to you. Even after I escape my chair at the end of the day, it seems that all I can think of is going home to rot on the sofa. So having being lured out to Hampton Wick, a prosperous part of town, when I finally got there (first time I have commuted on a train in rush hour), I felt that liquid refreshment was required.
The trouble was making up my mind. As you can see from this small snapshot of the bar, it looked like almost everything was on offer. Now, what to have…
Albondigas, beef meatballs, tomato and basil sauce. Beef meatballs, these were ok, if a little too hard for me although this is probably on accord of the generous percentage of meat as opposed to fat in other softer balls I have known. In a spoiler alert for the menu, I was a little surprised by what came out from the kitchen. As it seemed a bit difficult to pin down the type of cuisine that this restaurant served. Was it Spanish? Indian? Modern British? A gastropub? It seemed that select cuisines from around the world made an appearance on the menu. The question was, with such breadth of cooking styles, would it be any good?
Padron peppers, chilli salt. These were soft and delicious with a great touch of char from the grill.
Patatas Bravas, spice tomato sauce. Crisply fried potato cubes. These were decent, if overshadowed by what was to come.
Lyme Bay salted cod fritters, lemon and saffron aioli. Luscious interior, crunchy casing holding it all in, these played musical notes on my tongue with texture and taste playing a delightful sonnet. Could have eaten these all day.
Manchego cheese croquettes, caramelised onion, pickled walnut. Crunchy shells, umami interiors and set off with a underlying walnut bed. A delight.
Spiced Spanish chorizo, red wine jus. These looked like Chinese preserved sausage. They tasted like that too with less salt. Not bad and my doctor would approve.
Serrano ham croquettas, smoked paprika aioli. There seems to be someone with particular skill at work in the kitchen, as all their fried items consistently come out crispy but not oily. These were creamy, crunchy and delicious.
Spiced chickpea, potato, pomegranate, sweet yogurt, tarmarind and chilli sauce. My companion usually doesn’t like chickpeas but these were good enough that he made an exception. The meatiness of the peas, combined with the yogurt and sauce showed a dish that was greater than the sum of its parts. Outstanding.
Chana Masala, fragrant Basmati rice, coriander. If there was only one dish I would commend, it would be this. Delightfully buttery rice cooked just right with a light curry on top. No doubt people will say “it’s just beans and rice, how good could it be”? In which case, I would just point them to this to change their minds.
Grilled pineapple, rum infused cherries, fresh mint, cherry sorbet. An interesting dessert, with intensely alcoholic cherries giving a deep bitter flavour in comparison to sweet pineapple and sorbet. Good but only decent in comparison to the next.
Lavender and white chocolate panacotta, macerated strawberries, ginger crumble. Great texture of the panacotta which found that difficult ground between firm and soft. In a recent development in my life, I now come into weekly contact with a politician. One of my friends managed to get himself elected as a councillor. So perhaps this is fortuitous timing as if he asks me for advice on his political office, I could just say he should be like panacotta. Firm and soft, not tasty.
As we left, we did feel like looking back longingly. Almost like these diners, looking mournfully out the window for their companions. Except in my case, it would be me looking longingly back in.
This place is worth a trip. If it is around your neighbourhood, you are far luckier than me.
A quiet eating 8.5/10.
We were invited to review. Estimated cost for a 3 course equivalent is GBP30 excluding drinks and service.
5 High St, Hampton Wick,
Kingston upon Thames KT1 4DA