Latest restaurant reviews
The local hotspots in south west London and Surrey
The Canbury Arms, Kingston
There’s been a real buzz in the neighbourhood about the revamp of the Canbury Arms and locals have been flocking to have a nosy since it opened in the middle of March. It is now in the hands of Pearmain Pubs, an independent group that also own the likes of The Wheatsheaf in Esher and The Crown in Twickenham, and it looks as if no expense has been spared. The main restaurant area has been extended, and flows onto a lovely outdoor terrace, and the bar also given a grand makeover.
We ventured there just a week after opening and the place was stacked – and the noise level high. The friendly staff were impressively organised, especially given how busy it was. From a menu of pub classics and more adventurous dishes, we chose a delicious plate of crispy sesame king prawns and salt & pepper squid with a super-spicy Sriracha mayonnaise. A tuna tartare with crushed avocado and pickled mooli was also extremely good. For mains, we tried a rich smoked haddock rarebit, and a pan-fried sea bream, with an accompanying asparagus & pea risotto. Both were fantastic and perfectly cooked. Too full for dessert, we chose Disaronno affogato – espresso, vanilla ice cream, & amaretto almond liqueur – which doesn’t really count as pudding, the ice-cream melting into a fabulous boozy coffee-flavoured puddle once the liquids are poured on top.
It’s all a great start for the Canbury – the lighting is a little too bright for my liking, and the noise a little too loud on the night we visited – but it promises to be a hugely popular choice in North Kingston, and rightly so.
Chakra Riverside, Kingston
We reviewed Chakra back when it first opened last year, sitting outside in the sun on the glorious terrace by the river. We were impressed then by some stunning dishes including giant king prawns and tasty lamb curries. We also spied an extensive vegan and vegetarian menu. With National Vegetarian Week in May, we popped along for some inspo. We were brought a wide selection to try – for starters, samosa ghugni chaat: a stunner of a dish, with a crushed samosa topped in a tongue-tingling mix of tamarind and mint. The avocado ke gole dumplings were winners, too, crunchy on the outside and a perfect texture within. A wide selection of mains included a deliciously smoky aubergine dish – baingan bharta, a malai methi mattar paneer and dal makhani – black lentils cooked overnight – superb but so rich you couldn’t eat more than a few spoonfuls.
It’s all rather a discovery and shows just how diverse vegetarian food can be. But my carnivorous side also tempted me towards a silky lamb rogan josh, and chicken tikka, marinated here with green herbs and pistachio – divine. Chakra is one of those places that will please both the meat-eaters and veggies alike.
Hans’ Bar & Grill, Chelsea
Stumble across the immaculate Chelsea mews that is home to Hans’ Bar & Grill and it’s parent boutique hotel, 11 Cadogan Arms, and you’ll be transported back in time. This is a corner of Chelsea flanked by elegant mansion houses and lined with perfectly pretty boutiques. The hotel mixes old-school London charm with contemporary refinement; there’s a bar with leather wingbacks and exquisitely shaken martinis, cosy reading rooms and stylish suites sprinkled with luxurious furnishings and eclectic art.
Across the way, Hans’ Bar & Grill is nestled among the artisinal purveyors of Pavilion Road. The interior is fresh and adorned with trailing foliage and a large skylight floods the dining room with natural light. Sage-green velvet banquettes, gilded mirrors and marble tables bring a decadent slant to proceedings and the restaurant feels a good fit for swanky brunches, lunches and cosy dinners.
Former Pont de la Tour head chef Adam England serves menus rooted with English produce. Nibbles of salt and pepper squid were just the job to kick things off, before a plate of fresh and luscious burrata and Bayonne ham arrived. Hans’ is famous for its grills and my succulent British sirloin was cooked perfectly and served with a tangy béarnaise. My companion’s pan-fried cod with raisin and buttermilk was juicy and layered with flavour while the salt and rosemary potatoes were a crispy, moreish treat. Dessert of a rich Valrhona chocolate fondant was devoured along with the last drops of a velvety pinot noir.
A picturesque spot ideal for a special brunch with Mum or a chic dinner with friends, Hans’ is a little-know gem set in a cracking Chelsea location.
2 Beeches Avenue, Carsharlton
Vinoteca in Carshalton Beeches has long since been popular with locals – serving up fresh, authentic pizzas and traditional Italian dishes. But what if you fancy a spot of lunch without a formal setting? The team behind Vinoteca have come up with a solution – by taking over next door and opening a delicatessen, 2 Beeches Avenue. I went along for Saturday brunch and after taking some time to find a parking spot on an adjacent road, I was surprised to see how busy it was inside. In fact, there was a full table of about eight people laughing and chatting over Eggs Benedict and other delicious looking plates of food.
We were seated by the friendly staff and given the menu to peruse. While the specials of Italian meatballs and the sausage with truffle mash sounded ever so tempting, as did the Italian cheese and meat platter, I decided to go for the chicken club, on the promise of getting half of my friend’s salt beef sandwich. Even though there wasn’t anything for the children, they did offer to make simple ham and cheese toasties for them – for which I was grateful. But this gave an indication that perhaps this isn’t so much an eatery for young kids as it is for more for the brunch crowd – the food choices are far too complex for young palettes, well, for mine anyway.
Our food arrived speedily and both sandwiches were seriously good. The salt beef was chunky and tender, while the pickles gave a good tangy crunch. Meanwhile, the club sandwich was packed full of flavour – the ingredients fresh and generous. The kids clearly enjoyed theirs, too, wolfing them in an instant.
Did we have room for dessert of which they were several on offer at the deli counter including homemade apple strudel? No, we were too full at this point, but 2 Beeches Avenue is certainly a place you could while away several hours of good food, coffee and conversation. It is rather bijou inside though – so best reserve a table or head down early to secure a spot.
Tel: 020 8669 3627
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