After months of chatting to Vintage Macaroon on twitter we decided it was high time we arranged a meet-up, and she picked the idyllic Bingham for our first lunch venue. The recently Michelin-starred restaurant, helmed by Shay Cooper, resides within a boutique hotel of the same name in Richmond. We arrived almost in tandem, and after a quick hello we settled into the elegant bar and ordered ourselves a couple of champagne cocktails to kick things off. As the bartender mixed our drinks VM immediately started snapping away, while I surveyed the plush interiors. On hindsight I wish I had been as zealous as her, as the bar really was quite nice, with gorgeous views out onto the river (the restaurant itself has a small balcony lined with two-seater tables that would be lovely for dining al fresco on a sunny day).
Everything on the menu looked inviting and we both struggled to choose between the lunch prix fixe (£19.50 for 2 course, £23 for 3 courses) and à la carte (£38 for 3 courses). The waiter came over and strongly recommended us to go with the bargain of a lunch set, so pick it we did. We started with the Chilled Pea Soup with Scottish Girolles, Parmesan Royale and Herb Oil. The royale (a cheese custard of sorts) arrived prettily adorned with petits pois, girolles and parmesan crisp, sat in a dainty ruffle-edged bowl. Lawn-green soup was then poured over at the table, submerging the custard round. It was perfectly-seasoned and not too cold allowing the fresh pea flavour to really sing, with the savoury parmesan custard, earthy mushrooms and sweet bursts from the petits pois, being delicious accents.
For the main I chose the Crisp Pork Belly with Glazed Pig’s Cheek, Beetroot, Apple and Fennel. It definitely looked the part but didn’t win me over like the starter did – the slow-cooked pork belly although laced with fat was a touch dry, as was the cheek, and the crackling was woefully hard and chewy, making it impossible to cut or even bite into (I left the whole square on the plate). The moreish pig ears garnish was crisp though, and the accompaniments were well chosen; the sweet beets, tart apples and refreshing shaved fennel salad were a perfect foil to the rich meat. VM picked the Vanilla-scented Sea Trout with Celeriac, and a Pistachio and Bacon topped Razor Clam, which from what I could ascertain, she thoroughly enjoyed.
In view of the post lunch cocktails planned at Bob Bob Ricard (followed by dinner at a new Italian in Mayfair), I decided to be virtuous and skip dessert, instead opting for a pot of fresh mint tea paired with petits fours – a selection of chocolate covered meringues, soft caramels, blood orange jellies and truffles (all delicious!). VM wasn’t about to forgo her pud, and went for a Vanilla Parfait with Strawberry Sorbet, Raspberry and Thyme Consommé which she liked, but thought a little too creamy.
It was a very pleasant lunch – the food on the whole was good, the service attentive, and the views scenic (it also helped that VM made a wonderful dining companion!). Having only sampled two dishes, it is hard to give a conclusive verdict on Cooper’s cooking, but I have every intention of returning for a more thorough perusal of the Cheshire native’s offerings.
61 Petersham Rd
Surrey, TW10 6UT
t. 020 8940 0902