Yesterday’s lunch at Kew’s Glasshouse restaurant was everything a fine dining experience should be.
One of the problems I have in assessing restaurants is that most of the time I’m not paying, and my primary purpose is to be there in order to taste wines. You can still get a good feel for the restaurant, but it’s easier to do this when you are a paying customer, there to have a nice meal with your significant other. And this is the capacity I was visiting in yesterday.
Lunch is a set three courses for £26, which at this level of cooking represents brilliant value – it also makes good business sense because you don’t get people coming in, ordering just a starter, drinking mineral water and occupying a table for 2 hours.
The wine list is really impressive. There’s lots of choice, mark-ups are more than fair, and clearly a lot of thought has gone into compiling it. I can imagine that some guests might be a bit alarmed at the lack of the obvious names, but this is why there’s a sommelier.
And Susan Cheng, the sommelier here, really impresses. We ordered by the glass from the really interesting and non-obvious by-the-glass list, and she dealt with questions really well. So, to share, we had Lagar de Cevera Albarino, Biffar Rupertsberger Nussbein Riesling Kabinett Trocken, Hoffstatter Lagrein and Gottweiter Gruner Veltliner. She also gave us a glass of a Coteaux du Languedoc white to try (I can’t recall the name), which was really nice.
The food? Just brilliant. My starter (top picture, pls excuse the dodgy phone camera quality) was smoked eel with marinated beetroot, horseradish and potato pancakes, and was perfectly judged. Fiona opted for seabass sashimi with wasabi mayonaisse, shrimp beignet and guacamole, which was full of interesting flavours and textures.
It was a bright spring afternoon, so it’s nice to have food matching the season. I followed up with a very fresh tagliatelle with forest mushrooms, asparagus and a poached egg (above). It was really good, but Fiona’s choice – roast pollock with wild garlic veloute, gnocchi, asparagus and morels was close to perfection (below).
The only glitch? The fellow diners. Next to us was one of those large, loud-talking tables, one of whom took a couple of lengthy phone calls without stepping outside. Not much you can do about that.