Dining out inspo in south west London and Surrey
Our latest reviews of the local hotspots near you
Home SW15 on Putney’s Upper Richmond Road deftly strikes a balance between cool coffee hangout, modern lunch and brunch space and cosy date spot. On weekends, the contemporary-cool dining room is bustling with groups of friends enjoying brunches of crab cakes hollandaise and shakshuka, nibbles of duck rillettes and super-soft mozzarella. The bar is thoroughly well stocked and spring sunlight washes in through the large run of windows across the fantastic mezzanine – an area ideal for booking large tables for celebrations and fun dinners. Come Sunday, tables indulge in the towering roasts, and customers while away the hours with zinging Bloody Marys. You feel, well, at home… so kudos then to the team behind Home SW15; four friends who met while working at Charlotte’s Bistro in west London and decided to go it alone. They’ve hit on a winning formula and Home SW15 was recently awarded London’s Best Local Restaurant by the Good Food Guide.
Dishes are served with panache and flare that elevates the all-day brasserie well above other cool-yet-casual brunch spots. Our first visit falls on a Sunday when the roast beef with all the trimmings – including a Yorkshire pudding the size of centre court – doesn’t disappoint. My husband’s eggs benedict with slow-cooked ham also hits the spot, and to finish the chocolate and hazelnut mouse with salted caramel with almond crumble is divine. We return for dinner during the week and the dishes, service and vibe are equally good – the twice-baked Lancashire cheese soufflé with truffle dressing a particular highlight. And with a small terrace out front, this neighbourhood restaurant is going to be many a customer’s home from home when summer arrives.
Bingham Riverhouse, Richmond
We’ve always liked The Bingham, its tucked away location outside the main town centre on the way to Petersham, and the way you enter into a secret Georgian townhouse to be greeted by stunning views of the Thames. We were intrigued to see the new makeover, which aims to provide a private members house type vibe. The look is fresh, contemporary but with a nod to the past, making the most of the building’s rich history. On a lunch-time visit, the beautiful bar area was pleasantly buzzing, with the appeal of a reasonably priced set menu on offer (£26 two courses/£28 three) drawing in diners. As designated driver, I tried the Seedlip ‘Garden’ to drink – a great alcohol-free aperitif and it is good to see these more grown-up options on drinks lists so non-drinkers are not confined to sweet fizzy pop.
The menu showcases local ingredients and changes seasonally. We tried a starter of risotto, which was absolutely divine – rich, creamy and topped with a toasty crumb, and a main course of hake – moist, juicy, perfectly cooked and accompanied with a delicious warm tartar sauce. Too full for dessert and a work deadline calling, I headed back to the office. But I could have happily whiled away an afternoon in these tranquil environs.
Tucked away on Ewell Road is Doosra, a modern space with bright furniture, sleek wooden tables and a honeycomb puckered centrepiece bar. The concept is part sports café (cricket was playing silently on our visit) combined with a contemporary restaurant showcasing Indian curries and tandoori dishes.
The emphasis is on locally sourced ingredients such as organic lamb from Coombe Farm, and dishes are made in small batches and all in-house. We tried some amazingly tasty okra fries, crispy samosas (both lamb and vegetarian), and delicious versions of the popular curries, Methi Malai Murgh and Palak Gosht. We had room for the dessert samosas too with the banana and coconut a particular highlight. Prices are reasonable and the atmosphere convivial but do book in advance – the restaurant is only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings (although takeaway/delivery is available Weds to Sun) and has a high rating on TripAdvisor and a stack of loyal fans.
Pennyhill Park, Bagshot
There’s always something rather indulgent about having afternoon tea. Perhaps it’s because everything is bite-sized and decadent, so you eat more than you really should in one sitting? My intention was to do just that, as I drove up the long driveway of Pennyhill Park Hotel & Spa, which already has plaudits for its fine dining restaurant, Latymer. Walking into the impressive Ascot Bar, which combines country house chic with a traditional setting, my friend and I were seated in a cosy table for two by a large window overlooking the gardens and outdoor pool. As much as we were both tempted by the sparking option of a crisp glass of Tattinger, we abstained, and I went for the House Blend tea instead. It was a good choice – strong, and flavoursome, I stuck with it throughout the meal, even though my friend’s ultra creamy hot chocolate looked divine. If you have the appetite for it, there is an endless refill of any hot drinks you should so desire. As the stand of goodies was set down before us, there was a good mix of sandwiches cut with precision, mini macarons and cheesecakes, as well as an assortment of sponges. I’m such a fan of high tea sandwiches, my particular favourite was the deep maroon smoked salmon and mustard – moist, with plenty of filling. However, it was the pigs in blanket sausage rolls that were the stars of the show – crispy bacon wrapped with buttery pastry fresh from the oven. So good, we asked for another helping.
Before I overstuffed myself with the savouries, I moved onto the sweet treats – diving into the delectable fruity cheesecake with a crumbly biscuit base, and then I couldn’t resist the warm scones with clotted cream and plum jam – perfectly formed, light and airy. I could only manage a smidge of the vanilla parfait with mulled wine granita, as by this point I was too full. Thankfully, none of the food went to waste, as all the leftovers were boxed up and devoured later by my children – so Pennyhill Park’s High Tea is the gift that keeps on giving.
The Albany, Thames Ditton
We headed along to this popular riverside pub just outside Thames Ditton to check out its recent makeover and new menu. A toasty fire in the plush bar area greeted us, tempting us to settle in for a G&T before heading into the restaurant. The pub is owned by Premium Country Pubs so you will find on the menu some of the dishes featured in its others pubs such as Harts Boatyard in Surbiton and the Cotswolds The Swan in Broadway. This does give it something of a chain-feel but the dishes themselves, at all three venues we have tried, have always been well-executed. What is particularly appealing is the range of lower calorie options which really don’t feel as if you are in any way depriving yourself. For starters, I tried the most delicious stir-fried beef fillet salad, with a perfectly judged Asian-style dressing. Of the other lower cal options, a king prawn, crab and chorizo linguine was just as good, featuring tasty big prawns. The menu features a wide range of crowd pleasers – we also tried a fab and hearty beer-battered cod and chips. Too full for pudding, we went for a cocktail and loved the candy floss martini, with the candy floss melting as the drink was introduced at the table.
Decor wise, the look is posh pub but the tables are a little close together and the overhead lighting rather too full-on, however this is a great pub that works both for a night out and for a family-friendly gathering. We’re looking forward to summer months there with its terrace by the river.
Classy yet casual best describes the vibe of Brindisa’s latest outpost at Battersea Power Station’s Circus West Village. Outside there is a riverfront terrace for spring and summer aperols, with heaters for cosy winter evenings. Inside, the décor is a pleasing mix of botanicals, banquettes, industrial steel accents and terracotta floor tiles. The cool interior is also adorned with chilies that hang from the girders and rows of jars stuffed with glossy yellow peppers. A 100 per cent acorn-fed jamón Ibérico Bellota is on show at the bar, ready to be hand carved.
Having spent the last 30 years importing Spanish produce to the UK, diners will be expecting good things from Brindisa founder Monika Linton, and they won’t be disappointed. The open-plan kitchen serves up authentic dishes and classic comforts. Cured smoked Cecina beef with dark chocolate and manchego offers a fun play on the sweet and salty matches. But the pumpkin, carrots, shallots, hazelnut, seeds, Payoyo goats’ cheese and chestnut honey salad, and the signature sizzling gambas al ajillo proved the table winners. The squid ink black rice and alioli was the only blip – a tad too heavy and salty. The restaurant serves hand-picked, seasonal cheeses aged in Brindisa’s cheese rooms in Balham by Monika’s husband Rupert, and the wine list offers a welcome depth of Spanish regional reds. For long, lingering lunches, leisurely brunches and dinners somewhere a little different, this is a great pairing of food and location – in what must surely be one of the most exciting and evolving hubs of south west London.