Food writer Alison Jee finds that a new food venue, in a historically challenging location in Hampton hits the right note – at last.
The large, imposing building next to Hampton Hill Theatre has long been a restaurant site that never really resonated with the community it served. Until now.
The Beech House is the fifth restaurant to open under Oakman Inns, and the company’s first inside the M25.
Whether you are meeting a mate for a coffee, having a business meeting, a snack lunch, or grabbing a quick bite before the theatre, it’s ideal. It’s also good for a night out – as a twosome or with a group of friends. Crucially for me and many others, it is also dog-friendly.
We ventured along on a very busy Friday evening and the place was buzzing. Weaving our way through the locals drinking in the bar, we were seated at the back area, cleverly designed so that it feels almost as if it’s outside. There’s an open kitchen with Josper grill and a proper, wood-fired, pizza oven.
I started with a beetroot and goats cheese salad: delicious. Three warm beetroot falafel nestled on a bed of rocket over sliced beetroot and a layer of goat’s cheese. My husband had calamari, (semolina, yogurt, lemon & chilli-marinated calamari with harissa mayonnaise). Sweet and tender, in a crispy coating, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
For mains, I couldn’t resist sirloin steak cooked on the Josper. I chose sweet potato fries instead of normal chips, and a portion of béarnaise sauce on the side. My steak was fabulous and one of the best I have had in a restaurant in a long time. My husband chose a Parma pizza (with prosciutto and rocket) and declared it excellent. It’s worth saying that this place prides itself on its pizza (so much so that the head chefs go to Italy as part of their induction). You can tell that they use the right flour and correct dough recipe, and they are nicely blackened (not burnt) at the edges – the real Napoli McCoy!
Needless to say, we didn’t have much room for pudding, but my husband managed a rather large banoffi sundae and in the interests of reviewing, I opted for the lemon posset with passion fruit and brandy snaps. The sundae was judged “Ok, but nothing amazing”, but the posset was divine. Light, fresh and very lemony. My only disappointment was that it should have been given the honour of being served in a delicate glass rather than a rustic pottery dish. We washed our meal down with a very acceptable bottle of Italian house red, (£18.50).
The food at Beech House is excellent. The only problem with that busy Friday night was slow and rather erratic service. This may have been due to staffing issues on that particular evening, and it certainly won’t put us off going again. They have now introduced a new summer menu with a distinctly Mediterranean slant, but thank heavens the pizzas and the steaks are staple items on the menu all year round!