PETERSHAM NURSERIES CAFÉ: LET’S DO LUNCH
Today was a pretty momentous occasion for me. It was the first “official” day of the EAT MY GLOBE trip and I spent a hugely informative and enjoyable morning in the company of the passionate John Glaser, the founder and blender of Compass Box Whisky. You will be able to read about that in due course on the EMG website but, suffice to say, I could not have wished for a better beginning to the rest of my life.
Talking of my new life, I am beginning to rediscover the joys of lunch. Until now, a few nuts, the odd bit of fruit and a stroll around the block have been about as much as I had to look forward to. Now, I am able to meet interesting people over a decent meal without thinking I have to run back to the office to have a meeting about when we are going to have a meeting about the agenda for another meeting. Result.
After our morning, John was kind enough to treat me to lunch at The Petersham Nurseries Café. This is one of those places that you read about, read good things about and would love to visit. But, as it is only open for lunch, you never get around to it. It is also way across town from London’s fashionable SOSHO so, well you get the picture.
The new me, however? I have bags of time and was more than happy to linger over a thoroughly agreeable lunch in the almost Spring sunshine.
The chef, Skye Gyngell is carving a bit if a name for herself these days. A rather good book called “ A Year in My Kitchen” (I wonder of Fergus Henderson should do a book called An Ear in My Kitchen?) and a host of celeb clients.
The food coming out of the kitchen here reeks of great ingredients, fresh, imaginative combinations without any frippery or self indulgence. It and the surroundings of the pretty dining area suit each other perfectly.
To begin, two salads, mine an interesting if not altogether successful combination of celeriac sliced wafer thin in the mandolin, with green chicory and a remoulade dressing over slices of malenca beef. I may never say these words again, but I think it may have worked better without the meat component.
Better, in fact, terrific was John’s salad of raw green and white asparagus with aged parmesan, hazelnuts, truffles and saparoso balsamic. I cadged a mouthful and wish I had made his choice instead of mine.
This is not a cheap place. Starters range from £11 to £14 and mains from £16 to £24, but the quality of what was on the plate and the thought that has gone into presentation and preparation make it good value.
A dish of red mullet and slow cooked fennel came with what looked like a fierce saffron aioli. The bite I filched however, was strong but did not over power the fish which was cooked just to point.
Another salad for me. This time of medjool dates, barrel aged feta and strips of cold pink lamb. As good a salad as I can recall in a long time.
John was picking up the bill bless him, so I don’t know the cost. I would guess around the £120 mark for two including a couple of glasses of Silvaner to begin and a Malborough Pinot to follow. Service was charming and suitably leisurely and deserving to the 12.5% they add to the bill.
This is a place for people who have time and money to lunch. The new me is just beginning to realise how lucky they are.