The Petersham Covent Garden restaurant review: No egos, no theatrics, just sublime ingredients and confident cooking

The famous hidden gem that is the Petersham Nurseries restaurant in Richmond recently opened a new place in central London. Jade Bousfield paid a visit.

Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, is the kind of unique place that you tell all your friends about. Hidden on the edge Richmond Park, it’s a place where you won’t feel out of place if you dress up, but at the same time it is a charming family establishment, with a sustainable ethos of pot-to-plate eating and minimal waste. When an outpost opened in Covent Garden last April, the owners vowed that they would keep the same philosophy.

This has translated to the new venue: the wine in their cellar, the food served in their deli, the florist decorating the space with British blooms, through to the food that ends up on the plates, which mostly sourced from their very own Haye farm in Dorset. The best way to experience it is via the tasting menu which changes constantly, depending on what is in season — sometimes several times a week.

Walk through the balmy outdoor courtyard and you feel like you’ve left London, transported to some hidden courtyard in Milan or Florence, where (weather permitting) you can dine alfresco.

Petersham Covent Garden

Heading inside the vast floral arrangements reminds us of its sister restaurant, and there is an ever-present theme of nature and the countryside, from the wild flowers picked for our table to the edible flowers in later courses. Even the tables have prints of maple, oak and vine leaves.

Whilst the cuisine is essentially Italian — as is the wine flight, which the sommelier guided us through beautifully — but the ingredients are largely, though not exclusively, British. Freshly baked focaccia arrives, for example, with olive oil pressed on the family’s Sicilian estate; we mop up every last drizzle. It is followed by a slice of melon with a sliver of parma ham — the perfume of the melon caught us before is made our mouths.

Crisp radishes, raw asparagus, fennel and a boiled egg come with a delicate smoked cod roe dip refreshing and set the scene for what was to come, matched perfectly with a Monterossa Blanc de Blancs.

Petersham Covent Garden

Venison tartar with freshly grated horseradish, a raw egg yolk and peppery nasturtiums was complimented with a rosé prosecco, a more round bodied choice to support the venison whilst cleansing the palate. We soon switched to a 2017 Manincor Reserve della Contessa whose acidity and oakiness accompanied airy little parcels of gnocchi, bobbing in a tomato consume, with delicate dattorini tomatoes — little bursts of pleasure, conjuring up summer nights sitting on a terrace in Tuscany.

Our sommelier, like a master of dance, gently glided us towards an oaked verdicchio from Le Marche as the right dinner partner for the delicate pan-fried trout with a beurre blanc, crushed new season potatoes and yellow beans.

Nervous at this point that the main course of duck would too heavy, but it was balanced well by the chefs with fresh cherries, beetroot and chard. The effect was so earthy, light and moreish, and balanced so well by a 2017 Turmhof Pinot Nero, that we were left wanting more — from joy rather than hunger. And the wine has since made its way onto my shopping list.

Petersham Covent Garden

If you want to take something home with you, there’s also a deli at Petersham Covent Garden…

Finishing off was olive oil ice cream with honeycomb and chocolate was perfectly paired with the smoothest, unfiltered desert wine, whose yellow fruits on the nose rounded off the meal in superb style.

The Petersham doesn’t rely on theatrical presentation, or dishes prompted by the latest trends or the chef’s ego. Instead it severed up accomplished, confident dishes that showed off the sublime quality of its ingredients. We’ll be back for more.

The six-dish tasting menu at Petersham Covent Garden costs £60per person, or £110 with wine flight supplied by Petersham Cellar. The tasting menu is available for the whole table only. See petershamnurseries.com/covent-garden for more details.

The six-dish tasting menu at Petersham Covent Garden costs £60per person, or £110 with wine flight supplied by Petersham Cellar. The tasting menu is available for the whole table only. See petershamnurseries.com/covent-garden for more details.


How to make The Petersham’s Summer Vegetables with Bagna Cauda

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 40g garlic
  • 100g good quality salted anchovies
  • 200ml milk
  • 100ml olive oil

For the vegetables

  • 1 bunch baby carrots
  • 1 fennel bulb, remove the outer leaves
  • 6 spears asparagus
  • 1 bunch rainbow radishes

Method

  1. Prepare all the vegetables into bite sized pieces and refresh in ice cold water. Strain and place on a dry cloth.
  2. Gently cook the whole garlic cloves in the milk until soft and all the milk has evaporated.
  3. Using a pestle and mortar, mix the anchovies and peeled, cooked garlic to a paste.
  4. Gently whisk in the olive oil to the anchovies and garlic paste.
  5. Serve the bagna cauda with the crunchy vegetables.