Review: Sam’s Waterside

Review: Sam’s Waterside

By Angela Zaher

If you want to know how to run a successful restaurant, ask Sam Harrison and business partner Fanny Stocker.  Having worked their magic at Sam’s Riverside in Hammersmith, they have now opened Sam’s Waterside in Brentford.  Being close to the water seems to be a winning formula for these two. Sam’s Waterside overlooks the Grand Union Canal- the UK’s longest stretching 137 miles from Birmingham to Brentford. This is much more of an up and coming location than long established Hammersmith with its abundance of well heeled residents surrounding it. But judging by the buzz on the night we visited, this restaurant is already a destination in the area, pulling in customers from Kew, Chiswick, Richmond, Ealing and further afield.  And the atmosphere was glamorous, joyful and energetic- at the end of the meal, we were sad to leave. So, what’s their secret?

We’re guessing it’s a combination of hard work, attention to detail and good judgement plus a little luck – that’s what magic is in hospitality. You can even influence the luck:  “The harder you work the luckier you get” (Gary Player).  At Sam’s Waterside, they haven’t left anything to chance.

First, this restaurant has been designed and kitted out in such a way that customers will quickly become regulars, it’s an enticing place to be. There were two big celebrations on the night we were there but there were also some solo diners sitting at the counter of the stunning island bar. This marble-topped impressive structure takes centrestage here, lit up from the floor in soft hues of orange with wine bottles and glass racks suspended from the ceiling. The main dining area is equally cosy but luxurious; blush pink and ivory leather dining chairs, teal velvet banquettes and bespoke art-deco inspired pendant lights. Plus, as at Sam’s Riverside, an open kitchen, making the dining experience more immersive and vibrant. They can do 90 covers indoors and when the sun is out, there’s room for a further 40 customers out on the terrace.


Next, the food on offer is a good balance of classical, and aspirational like bream with wakame, Jerusalem artichoke and smoked butter. Clever and well thought out pairings such as a tahini and orange blossom sauce to accompany heritage beetroot- probably my favourite dish of the evening- surprise and delight in equal measure. For mains we tried the Delica pumpkin and coconut masala with romanesco and pomegranate – like a miniature autumnal garden on a plate and though hearty, refreshing on the palate. The Hereford aged ribeye – medium rare- with peppercorn sauce, salad and chips was all as perfect as it should be. Fans of Sam’s Riverside will be well catered for here but just like any real life siblings, Sam’s Waterside has a distinct identity of its own, bearing the stamp of head chef Jacob Keen Downs (Petersham Nurseries, The Rick Stein Group and Caprice Holdings). The wine list has plenty of choices from regions of great wine pedigree with a range of price points to suit various budgets. For the more adventurous oenophiles, there’s scope for expanding horizons.

But in no restaurant can food stand on its own. If you feel you have to wave a flag until a waiter notices you or the waiting time between courses is so long, you’d forgotten what you ordered, it doesn’t matter whether the plate presented is the most masterful dish ever, you’re irritated and no amount of deliciousness can fix that. At Sam’s Riverside, which we keep going back to without our review hat on, they thoroughly understand that. And happily, at Sam’s Waterside too. Service flows efficiently and they are attentive to each customer regardless of how busy the restaurant is.  You are made to feel well looked after and special. It’s no wonder that they’re doing so well in Brentford; nothing to do with magic.

Sam’s Waterside: 3 Kingham Avenue, TW8 8GP

Follow Angela: @angela_zaher