Review of Petersham restaurant in Covent Garden
After visiting Petersham Nurseries in Richmond earlier this year, I was delighted to make a booking at The Petersham, the upscale restaurant in Covent Garden. Glass walls shrouded with plants, sunlight bathing every green marble corner table in brilliant light, a terrace at which to dine. You want to fall in love with this place, not to mention it’s probably the perfect first date venue. Then there’s the darling, quaint interiors shop next door full of trinkets as well as practical things like you know, a pink feather duster. Absolute need.
And while their restaurant is every bit as beautiful as you’d expect from wandering around their Eden of garden centres, this is not somewhere you’d readily return. Service was prompt and helpful, although we were stuck with a member of staff who had to ‘check’ about every little thing we asked, including whether I could charge my phone and if they have iced tea. But let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and say she was new.
The ambience is a cross between the living room of an interior magazine with gargantuan wall art, signature chandeliers and antique glass lining the staircase. And of course, the fresh exuberant blooms you’d find at their Richmond branch. I foresee plenty of press events being held here in the evenings but by day, a steady stream of Asian housewives holding their gossip sessions.
The food was good too – but that’s it. It was just good and that’s not quite enough for the prices they were charging. Not in London. There’s a real problem with upscale restaurants popping a few edible petals onto a pretty plate and charging more for atmosphere than substance. I know many who will love this place but that kind of thing isn’t ‘me’, I think most foodies would agree. The menu we sampled has just been brought out for the summer and will be their staple for the next two months. For starter, we shared the scallop crudo (£22), which while beautifully done, the offering was too sparse to really sample that shellfish sweetness and tasted mostly of olive oil. I say save your money here and go to Le Petit Maison for anything seafood carpaccio. As for mains, we opted for a fish and a vegetarian dish.
The John Dory fillet (£26) cooked in a Mediterranean style (and a little on the salty side) is a great example of elegant comfort food, perfect in 30 degree weather. I loved it and I’d buy the recipe. Then there was the yellow courgette and Borlotti beans with a plump sweet Cuore del Vesuvio tomato (£22). The kind of plate you’d whip up at a farmyard cottage for an autumnal supper. Hefty and satiating but nothing special. All of this did not tempt me to explore the dessert menu. But before I sound like I was hating the whole experience, I definitely can’t fault the portion size here.
I hesitated to write up this review of The Petersham restaurant in Covent Garden, because in spite of its beauty and freshness, there’s very little else to say. So I won’t bore you and I’ll leave it at this: would I return? Not for the food if it’s at my expense.
31 King Street