Whether you love fish or fowl, Rick Stein Barnes isn’t going to disappoint
So, the whole of Barnes was abuzz at the opening of Rick Stein’s new restaurant – his first in London – and while not by the sea, you couldn’t get any closer to the water than the site of much-loved previous restaurant, The Depot.
We visited a few days after the restaurant opened, the décor designed by Stein’s ex-wife, Jill, who is still involved in the restaurants, as are their boys – Ed, who is also on the interiors side, Jack, now executive chef, and youngest, Charlie, who selects the wine for the group.
We went for lunch and managed to get a window seat in the conservatory – and on a day of a school regatta, so the river was teeming with rowers, race after race passing below our window. While the conservatory area is hugely popular, the Steins have removed a few tables, allowing more space and meaning you no longer feel you’re eavesdropping on your neighbours.
The menu has the expected emphasis on seafood and I started with the sashimi of salmon, tuna, sea bass and scallop, with wasabi and soy dipping sauce (£12.95). The thin slivers of salmon and tuna were particularly good, while the denser texture of the sea bass was slightly chewier, but full of flavour.
My husband, Alex, started with the grilled langoustines with Pernod (£12.50) – enormous beasts, which must have reached their full 9-10 inches in size – and well worth the effort of dissecting.
For mains, Alex went for the classic Dover Sole à la Meunière (£33) – not the cheapest option on the menu, but a world of difference in flavour from lemon sole. The waitress deftly deboned the fish in front of us – no easy task when you have an audience! The soft flesh melted in the mouth and more bread had to be ordered to mop up the noisette butter.
In the interests of research, I wanted to try a meat dish, so opted for the duck confit with braised red cabbage and sautéed potatoes (£19.95), foregoing the very tempting cod, chunky chips and mushy peas. The duck was slightly dry, but I prefer this to fatty, and the juicy red cabbage packed a ton of flavour.
My cheese platter for dessert was the only disappointment – none of the cheeses had any real kick, although the accompanying quince jelly and pickles certainly added to the taste – but Alex’s sticky toffee pudding, in all its gooeyness, was perfect.
It was hard to leave – we were there nearly three hours – but we did eventually wend our way home along the Thames towpath in an attempt to walk off all that good food.
Booking: 020 8878 462
Tideway Yard, 125 Mortlake High St