Review of 'Rick Stein'

I think it is fair to say we are big fans of Rick Stein's style of cooking, which is, simple food prepared very sympathetically with very fresh ingredients concentrating particularly on seafood. We very much enjoyed visiting Rick Stein's Fish & Chip Shop in Paidstow so when we heard he was opening his first restaurant in London it jumped to the top of our list so that when my birthday came around it was an obvious choice. We were not disappointed.

Outside

Located in out-of-the-way Barnes in an otherwise quiet residential area it is not that tricky to find backing as it does onto the Thames. The restaurant is located off the road in a small cobbled courtyard (with a small amount of parking though their web site suggests guests park on the streets surrounding the restaurant which is free after 11:00 am). There is a small al-fresco area in the courtyard but this is for warmer days so we ate inside.

Inside we were warmly greeted by the maitre'd, Charlie Stein, Rick's son who is also a somolier that sources wines for all of Rick's restaurants. The interior is light and slightly crowded giving it a feel of a bistro or, my companion suggested, Greek taverna with fake plastic plants hanging from the ceilings and quirky art work on the walls. There is a small bar area to your right when you enter. All the rooms here join up with wide doorways, a long narrow glassed area runs along the river side of the restaurant with views of the river (moot at the time we visited with the sun having already set) but we were seated in the corner of the largest of the dining rooms, off to the left.

Interior

The slick black wooden tables are simply dressed with a candle as well as the requisite wine glasses, cutlery and napkins arranged on top accompanied by equally simple wooden chairs (though a comfortable bench seat along the far well hearkens back to the days this was a pub). A short time after being seated and given the large single-sided cardboard menu a serving of both walnut and sourdough bread slices was left on our table. So good this was that we had them bring a second serving after our starter…not such a good idea as it turned out…

Bread (first helping)

The lunch/dinner menu changes regularly depending on what is available and is simple to the extreme, with just Appetisers, Starters, Mains and Sides (there is a separate, much smaller, dessert menu). The prices are what you might expect for this quality of eating with most of the fish mains running in the area of £20-£25. So, with all three courses plus drinks expect to pay about £60-£80 each (or much more if you want to THE “Fruits de Mer” - an assortment of seafood presented in a rather awkward two-tiered contraption placed in the middle of the table - at £55 for one person or £69 for two).

Amuse Broche - Smoked Mackeral

After ordering two Chinese soup spoons with an “Amuse Broche” of smoked mackeral were presented to use - Very light and very, very smokey to the point that it might not have been fish at all. But, nonetheless a light and tasty way to begin our meal.

Drink

As a non-drinker I was pleased that they had a rather nice non-alcoholic “Blueberry Mojito” (£4.95) on offer which, though it was crammed more with ice than drink, was quite zingy and very delicious…I spent most of the evening attempting to retrieve the blueberries from under the ice cubes that never seemed to melt…My companion picked a rather nice white from the wine list “Rick Steins Burgundy” (£11.25/175 ml) which she found quite pleasant, not being a fan of too strong wines.

Fish Soup with Parmesan

My starter was the “Fish Soup with Parmesan” (£8.95) which had small containers of the Parmesan as well as a light mayonnaise (?) and crustini on the side. The generous serving of soup was velvety smooth and rich with no harsh “fishy” flavour. Piping hot when it came to the table I found a bit of the mayonnaise on the spoon while scooping up the soup helped not only cool the temperature but also tone down the fish flavour even more. The Parmesan, added directly to the soup added even further to the richness.

Cornish Crab Wakame

My companion had the “Cornish Crab with Wakame” (£12.95) which was absolutely stunning - A large mound of white crab meat with a small quenelle of the brown meat, a small dollop of wasabi mayonnaise and a pile of the wakame (seaweed) salad topped with slices of cucumber. The crab was deliciously delicate and sweet (very fresh) with the mayonnaise not too heavy on the (spicy) wasabi so acting perfectly as an accompaniment to the delicate meat. Another large portion, which we would learn was par for the course throughout the evening.

Indonesian Seafood Curry

Beans

After a brief pause our mains arrived. I had one of Rick's signature dishes: “Indonesian Seafood Curry” (£24.95) which came in (another) large bowl accompanied by a small bowl of rice and other of rather nice greens topped with crispy shallots. The creamy coconut curry sauce was smooth and extravagant full of two large sea bass fillets (skin on) along with a number of large pieces of cod and several good sized prawns (a world ahead of a rather disappointing similar dish I had a week ago at an outpost of Brassarie Blanc - a short distance down the river in Hammersmith). A risk here were the prawns which could have been easily overcooked but here were perfect in texture and taste - Fresh and juicy. The sea bass was amazing, again, extremely fresh and cooked perfectly.

Brill with Truffles

My companion's main was the “Brill with Truffles” (£29.95) which was another absolute hit: Beautifully filleted, creamy, meaty Brill with a light though full-flavoured sauce containing mushrooms and truffle along with thin slices of potatoes.

Chocolate Pavé

Despite being rather full at this point with not only the starters and mains, several drinks (including a bottle of water) and two orders of bread, we still managed to find room for desert. I had the “Chocolate Pavé” (£6.95) which arrived decorated, very thoughtfully, with “Happy Birthday” in chocolate around the rim of the plate. The pavé itself was incredibly smooth, dark and rich topped with three candied nuts with a small side scoop of salted caramel ice cream on top of a bed of peanut crumb. Sweat this was not. Yeah, nice.

Baked Lemon Cheesecake

My companion chose the “Baked Lemon Cheesecake” (£6.95) and despite being baked - often meaning in this country being quite grainy and stiff in texture - was very light and creamy, as it should be topped with a warm mixed berry compote. The lemon was not at all overwhelming and the portion size was also not too big.

The service throughout the evening was impeccable though, as might be expected, as the restaurant filled as the hour grew later was not quite so attentive. They were very happy to chat and offer suggestions whenever visiting their table with you being their entire focus. A few upsets at other tables (such as the fruits de mer platter falling over) were quickly and professionally dealt with.

Happy Birthday

At £142.42 including a discretionary 12.5 % service charge automatically added to the bill, this is not a cheap date but the food was absolutely amazing and, oddly in a restaurant of this quality, with larger sized portions. As might be expected from Rick Stein - Simple, honest cooking with a minimum of fuss and the freshest ingredients. I have heard some complaining that it was not as “spectacular” as they might have expected but these, I feel, do not appreciate the food ethos Stein has. You could argue it was expensive or that the portions were too large or that it is in an awkward location but, to be honest, I can't fault them on any of this - Worth seeking out and simply enjoying.

Despite being a bit out of the way I suspect we will be back soon enough.

Wall

Rating:

Review Date: 2018-10-26


Cuisine: American/British

Address: Tideway Yard, 125 Mortlake High Street, Barnes, London, SW14 8SN ENGLAND

Public Transport: NRLOGO Barnes Bridge

Location: London (England) - Barnes

Map:

 

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Telephone: +44 (0) 208 878 9462

URL: https://www.rickstein.com/eat-with-us/barnes/