Congratulations, you’re recently engaged! Oh, not quite yet? Perhaps you’ve joined the ranks of this year’s graduates and we should ‘cheers’ to your degree. Maybe you’ve taken it one step further and bagged yourself a promotion. Possibly all your friends are buying houses and having babies, and you need an excuse to celebrate the bleak existence that is dating apps and singledom (the more likely option). Whatever the occasion, mark it with lunch at Bingham Riverhouse in Richmond.
Admittedly I am slightly biased, having just moved house to approximately 20 feet from Bingham Riverhouse. To write a review that was not wholly complimentary would threaten the suburban peace of Petersham Road, and therefore I could be duty bound to sing the Bingham’s praises for the sake of neighbourly harmony. Yet I pride myself on my journalistic integrity, and promise on my three course lunch menu that what follows is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but.
Bingham Riverhouse is my new favourite place to be. Set upon the banks of the Thames in the tranquil enclave of Richmond, the two old Georgian houses sit atop a grassy garden that undulates down to the towpath. It used to be something of a literary hub, where incestuous lovers Katherine Bradley and neice Edith Cooper entertained early 20th century poets over mini sandwiches and Keats. See, it’s romantic already. These days, The Lounge is the place to lunch – dusty-pink walls give way to French windows opening onto a green and sun soaked terrace; flamboyant modern art hangs from the walls and the open bar brings to mind a country kitchen. The restaurant itself is equally gorgeous, and the whole space is very Russell Crowe’s chateaux in A Good Year. My guest and I were instructed by charming general manager Erick and his team to treat it as our home for the day, and we got straight to work.
Seated in The Lounge with a view of the river, we were presented (with impeccable service) a basket of freshly baked bread, thick linen napkins and silver butter knives. We sat back and gazed out the windows as the boats rolled by, glass of wine hailing from Middle Loire in hand. It was a blissful start to lunch. The first of three courses arrived with a flourish: for me, torched mackerel on a bed of fennel and mixed pepper escabeche. Beautifully presented, with a splash of colour topped by a golden mackerel fillet, I am ashamed of the amount of time spent Instagramming my plate (cliched millennial – 1, top food reviewer – 0). It didn’t disappoint, and nor did pork terrine with fresh pops of garden peas for my guest. This was light, fresh and equally eye-catching, and we wondered aloud whether the dish had been cleverly crafted to mimic the room it was being served in.
Despite lunch’s clear showmanship – the pretty plated creations, first class service and even a view that shows off – the food was more than surface deep. A main of chicken with garlic mash was heartwarming, obvious comfort food but done carefully and cleverly. It takes a lot to be that excited by a turnip, but this puree was so rich it put my new Elemis anti-ageing moisturiser to shame. Hake, with buttermilk sauce, new potatoes and a delightfully textured romesco, was stunning. And then to dessert – a zingy lemon posset with raspberry sorbet that picked up delicious morsels of white chocolate crumble, and a devilishly decadent sticky toffee pudding. Our waiter was friendly but not intrusive and we felt thoroughly at home, sated by good food. By this point I trusted this kitchen completely – they could do to me and with me as they wished. It also helped that I was being hypnotically lulled by the sounds of the Thames and was three glasses of Sauvignon down.
Dessert finished and drinks in hand, we rambled down to the end of the garden, passing downstairs’ dove grey event space and a buzzing patio. Ambling to a secluded spot right on the river, we reflected on our day at Bingham Riverhouse. Admittedly, the weather was in our favour. The windows were open, the sun was streaming in and (in sickeningly perfect fashion) The Great River Race 2019 was floating past. Had it been raining, things may have been different. But then again, had it been raining, we could’ve curled up by the fireplace and done things that way, instead – which frankly sounds just as perfect. The food was fabulous, the setting idyllic and the staff delightful. Frankly, we concluded, whatever the weather or occasion, you should all get down here. You can thank me later.