It was always a tall order, even for Rick Stein, when it came to establishing his first London restaurant.
As many locals are well aware it is on the site of the Depot in Tideway Yard just off Mortlake High Street. For decades the Depot had a place firmly anchored in the hearts of those who live on this stretch of the Thames.
Indeed, there were some misgivings when the international Chef and businessman decided to move in, but the consensus is that this is a welcome addition for the RiverTribe diner. As ever, he is a man who knows how to how to judge the currents of popular tatses.
Now tastefully renovated and styled by Jill Stein, it retains the panoramic vistas that offer sublime positioning for watching the Thames and enjoying spectacular sunsets. In the courtyard there is a terrace for al fresco dining and one can’t help noting that the terrace is ‘dog friendly’; large water bowls inscribed with ‘Chalky’s Pal’ are strategically positioned for four-legged guests to enjoy!
Service is professional and friendly - without being stuffy - and many staff from The Depot have been retained. Richie, our charming waiter, hails from Cornwall and proudly steered us towards a Cornish beer and Cornish gin for aperitifs. Accompanying our drinks were mini fishcake ‘amuse-bouches’ and bread with olive oil and balsamic for dipping.
Our starters of asparagus soup with lemon oil, and sashimi of salmon, tuna, sea bass and scallop, (served with wasabi, pickled ginger, daikon, shiso leaves and soy dipping sauce) were both delicious.
Given the fact that Rick is famed for his fish repertoire, we chose fish mains. Indonesian seafood curry (seabass, squid and prawns) served with pilau rice and a green bean and grated coconut salad with crisp fried shallots, garlic and chilli had just the right spice balance – not too hot, but enough to make the dish really interesting. At the next table, someone ordered the same dish, but wanted theirs to be spicier – a request happily noted by the waiter. Apparently roast wild turbot is one of Rick’s favourite dishes, and I can see why! Cornish new potatoes and a dish of kale accompanied a beautiful slice of turbot - cooked to perfection - served on a bed of chived hollandaise. The kale was rather randomly seasoned, with bursts of salt and confit of garlic and I have to admit was the one part of the meal that didn’t work for me. I would have preferred steamed green beans or tender stem broccoli –without detracting from that magnificent fish and those delicate flavours.
With the sunset, it became challenging to see what you were eating. Consequently I had a mouthful of bones to contend with, which I hadn’t identified in the soft lighting. I’m sure this is something they will adjust in time and lighting can be so subjective!
Richie recommended a Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis to accompany our meal; perfect to enjoy with a rather conflicting pair of main courses! My husband managed sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream, but I have to confess that when it came to the panna cotta with pistachio brittle…a bowlful of rich deliciousness, it was just too generous a portion for me to finish.
I urge you to visit Rick’s first London venue. The food and service are great and for views of our river, it is hard to beat.
On the tideway with Rick Stein
RiverTribe’s Restaurant Critic Alison Jee
tucks in to a slice of
Cornwall in the heart of Barnes.