I went to Rick Stein in Barnes on a bright winter afternoon recently. It is the London outpost of the globally recognised TV celebrity chef from seaside Padstow in Cornwall. Rick is best known for his genuine and authentic love of seafood and global flavours.
These values come through clearly in the restaurant. It is classy, neat, clean-cut and charming place. Deliberately kept simple to ensure you have undivided attention to indulge in the flavours. The restaurant stretches along the river and has great big windows to reminisce at the slow flowing Thames. The walls are dignified with thoughtful statement art pieces. It is a place fitting for a romantic date as well as sufficiently relaxed for a get-together with friends or family.
They were running a January Charity Menu where each order of the great value £19.95 3 course menu included an additional £2.50 donation to The House of St Barnabas – a new age charity focused on tackling homelessness.
The menu is an honour list of great seafood dishes which made it impossible to choose. Hake fish and chips, roast wild Turbot in Hollandaise sauce and the famous Dover sole à la meunière, Indonesian seafood curry and fruits de mer. In order to make my choice easier, I decided to try the Charity Lunch Menu justify that it is for a good course. One of my tasting guest did opt for the ala carte menu.
First up is Rick’s interpretation of the famous Malaysian Laksa, which I love. It is suppose to be a spicy, hot and sour fish noodle. Unfortunately, it was definitely not Penang Laksa in the traditional sense, but it is a tasty bowl of noodles. The clear broth soup is wholesome with a sour pineapple twist. The seabass chunks are soft and beautifully cooked.
The other starter from the Charity Lunch Menu is the Lamb Kidney served on a chunky toasted brioche drizzled with a mustard, sauvignon blanc and tarragon sauce. Fresh kidney is vital to a great dish and it does require a bit of preparation. The chef has done a good job here.
We also tried a starter from the a la carte menu – Iberian Serrano ham served with a caper and celeriac remoulade (a mayonnaise-based condiment flavoured with mustard, cream, parsley and chives). The thinly sliced Spanish ham goes well with the crunchy celeriac and the subtle mellow flavour from the remoulade brought it all together.
The main from the Charity Lunch Menu is a Seafood Gratin served with caramelised apples. The salty crunchy Emmental and breadcrumb crust coupled with the soft haddock, mussels and prawns in a tasty rich white sauce was heighten by the sweet “melt in your mouth” caramelised apples. You can find the recipe for this dish in Rick’s latest book Secret France – link to it at the end of this article.
The next main is also from the Secret France cookbook. Cod and mashed potatoes fish cake flavoured with pimentón (smoked paprika) and lemon served with rocket salad. The fish cake was a touch dry, but it was tasty.
Moving on to the finale, a triangle serving of peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake drizzled with salted caramel sauce and topped with a few popcorn for a bit of fun. The cake was creamy and smooth and reassuringly rich with the peanut butter, chocolate and salted caramel.
The next dessert is another Asia-inspired dish. The black rice pudding with coconut milk is a very popular dessert in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong/China. It is a nice light dessert as the rice is soft but yet textured and the coconut milk added a touch of sweet fragrance and richness.
And the last dish for the day is the Sticky Toffee Pudding served with vanilla ice cream. A classic reproduced beautifully.
Aside from the ambience and food, the polished and attentive service from the waiting staff completed the package. Wine and water glasses were regularly topped up and service requests were promptly responded to.
I do love what Rick Stein has done for the culinary world. His passion for gastronomic adventures is inspirational. It is great that he travels around the world and recreates his favourite dishes with his own take on them back here in England. If you would like to read more about Rick Stein, below are links to his latest book, DVD and the Far Eastern Odyssey cookbook on Amazon.
- There is a small free private car park at the front of the restaurant for about 10 cars. Entrance is on Mortlake High Street.
- There is a high quality children menu. Great value with 3 courses for £9.95. The dishes are a par down version of some of the adult dishes .
- Booked in advance – You will probably struggle to get a table for the same week, but should be fine for the next week.