Georgian splendour mixes with modern magic at the newly relaunched 144 On The Hill, writes Pippa Duncan
The restaurant at the Richmond Hill Hotel has been re-invented. Keeping to its Georgian heritage, it has a simple grandeur but with contemporary elements. A lot of thought has gone into the décor and it shows – beige mixed with flashes of orange, sumptuous banquettes, leather and velvet chairs. The long wraparound bar spans the room and is spectacular – worth going for just a drink.
Having ordered cocktails, Emy, the mixologist, brought the ingredients for a Virgin Mary to the table. No Worcester Sauce and Tabasco here, but Sichuan pepper, ashberries, pimento and lemon verbena, mixed with tomato and then streamed from one cup held high to another. Other tables stopped talking to look. It was mesmerising if slightly nerve-wracking to watch. But he didn’t spill a drop. And it was absolutely delicious.
For the first course, my husband Alex, chose the open rabbit lasagne with mushrooms and truffle sauce (£8). Fresh lasagne, tender rabbit, mild in flavour in a creamy sauce – it was excellent. My retro prawn and smoked salmon in a cocktail glass (£9) was good, particularly the salmon and the side accompaniment of a Bloody Mary shot (oh yes!), but couldn’t compete with flavours of the rabbit.
Alex, always keen to try something new when we do a restaurant review, went for the vegan Jackfruit Dirty Burger – Cajun jackfruit with red cabbage, apple slaw, vegan cheese and beer sourdough bun with with chips (£12). It was a mountainous magnificence and tasted just as good. Neither of us are vegan, but if we hadn’t known, we would have just assumed it was meat. Layers of thinly sliced jackfruit blended well with the cabbage and apple slaw tasty cheese and crispy fries.
I opted for the more traditional seared Gressingham duck breast, Richmond honey and Earl Grey jus and Isle of Wight garlic fine beans (£14). The duck was cooked medium, as ordered, and was tender to cut, while the garlicky beans were fabulous.
We could have tried every dessert on the menu, but foregoing the Bakewell tart, Alex went for the rhubarb bread and butter pudding (£7), which came as freshly cooked rhubarb on a bed of bread. The tang of rhubarb hit the spot and he was a happy man. I had the Valrhona chocolate mousse with honeycomb crunch. It came beautifully presented, topped with delicate edible flowers and little segments of deeply chewy honeycomb. Expecting a smooth chocolate experience, the mousse was very textured, possibly because it was a vegan version, but shows that the restaurant does more than a simple nod to vegetarians and vegans.
Bookings: 020 8940 2247 / 144onthehill.co.uk
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