The Petersham Nurseries Café

The Blurb

The Petersham Nurseries Café, tucked in the depths of the Petersham meadows in and amongst Richmond Hill, is perhaps usually reserved for daytime moseying (at least it is for me), perusing the bountiful botanical wonders it has to offer, catching a pickling workshop or simply enjoying a family lunch (maybe even an afternoon tea) after a spot of shopping for handmade treats in the Nurseries’ onsite shop. An absolute must-visit in the heart of this stunning West London hotspot, Petersham offers an escape from the bustling Richmond high street and an entry into a magical place of calm. So, it was much to my delight when the café at Petersham announced an evening dining experience from the end of January this year. Along I went, cosy coat in tow (the restaurant is based in a greenhouse, after all), to experience my first flavour of supper at the Nurseries with a dear friend.

The Style

When I arrived, it felt like I’d turned up at a speakeasy; it was dark, very few people were around, and a host greeted us at the shop entrance. We were then guided and led to the famous greenhouse, where everything suddenly came alive. Beautifully strewn twinkling lights swathed the ceilings, tables were full, glasses were certainly full, and there was a buzzing, electric energy in the air. To my surprise, the greenhouse restaurant was actually well-heated (we were visiting in February), and we were comfortable without a coat – of course, the aperitif may have helped a little with that. The décor is an eclectic blend of Indian artworks, giant vases filled with stunning bouquets, greenery, tree ferns and scents of jasmine and bougainvillaea swirling in the air, all under the blanket of those pleasing lights and twinkling flicker of candles.

The Food

After a strong start, courtesy of a delicious dirty martini, it was time for the appetisers. A generous bowl of crunchy winter vegetables alongside a creamy bagna cauda dip, bruschetta with confit winter tomato, leeks & thyme, and crab crostini with citrus crème fraiche. The bruschetta was abundant in flavour, fresh and crisp, with tomatoes that tasted as they should – sweet, juicy – with leeks and thyme finishing it all off beautifully. I’m not usually one for crab, but the crostini were so good I could have eaten another ten. Not fishy in the slightest, just tasty and zingy, thanks to its delectable crème fraiche topping. As for the winter vegetables, they were a bit of a highlight for me; I nibbled at them throughout the evening and loved every crunchy, dippy bite.

My starter course was chosen before I could even sit down and read those two little words on the menu: ‘black truffle’. Sold. The tortelloni dish with ricotta, cauliflower and winter mushrooms (with that all-important truffle) was a thing of beauty; fresh folded pasta with rich, unctuous ricotta and that delectable flavour combination of hearty cauliflower, earthy mushrooms, and shavings of black truffle.

It was a tough follow, but I opted for the rib-eye steak when it came to the main. My friend chose the monkfish, which looked (and she confirmed indeed, it tasted) incredible. The steak was cooked medium-rare, how I like it, and the meat was as tender as you could hope for. Only made better by a dark and thinner-than-usual peppercorn sauce (a definite preference over the thicker and lighter version I’ve had so many times in the past), which I mopped up with seasonal carrots and crispy endive.

The red wine we were recommended was a Valpolicella Superiore, Marion – 2017. It was rich; it was intense but also smooth and very drinkable. And while the wine list at Petersham is extensive, the sommelier was on hand to guide us based on dishes and preferences. It may be worth adding that my friend and I have since purchased that bottle of wine.

We’d left nothing on our plates and were both seriously full, but dessert had to be done. Opting for a potentially rich finale, the original bean chocolate fondant and vanilla ice cream was heavenly, not heavy; a perfectly proportioned pudding with oozing warm liquid chocolate hidden within a gooey chocolatey cake and complemented with the cold creaminess of its partnered ice cream – the perfect way to end our dinner.

In a Nutshell

Fresh, simple ingredients and a vibrant ambience make dining at Petersham Nurseries Café an experience not to be missed. Having received a Michelin Green star for two years running, the café uses sustainable ingredients at the peak of their season, focusing on British produce and Italian specialities.

Overall, our evening at Petersham Café was an absolute pleasure; the ambience, the tone, the delectable food, and the abundant selection of drinks, all in the Nurseries’ humble greenhouse setting, make a fun night out with all the trimmings.

The Details

Dinner at the Petersham Nurseries Café in Richmond is served every Friday and Saturday from Friday, with a four-course set menu (£90). Thursday evening dinners will be added from 6th April.


020 8940 5230

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