On the side of Richmond Hill, The Petersham Hotel overlooks one of the most notable and historic views of the Thames. The best seats are along the window looking down the hill - or in the small area next to the restaurant where you can have a drink or coffee. It's such a peaceful setting - cows strolling on the meadow next to the Thames, small boats bobbing at moorings in the middle ... and like being in a living watercolour painting. Don't despair if you aren't offered a window seat. Strategically placed mirrors mean you'll see at least part of the view even if you're facing the wrong way.
It's not all about the view. My starter of tandoori quail was as pretty on the plate as the view ahead - burnished red-brown quail sat on a scattering of saffron pilau rice next to a dark brown shallot bhaji, a vibrant green minty yoghurt coriander sauce. The flavour of the tender and succulent quail wasn't masked by the spice; shallots turned the bhaji into a very high class accompaniment; the whole thing was an accomplished amalgamation of hot, cool, sharp, spicy and sweet. I almost chose the seared cod filet in a bean stew (always a winning combination according to my greedy stomach) but it was Sunday and the roast Scottish Aberdeen Angus beef was impossible to resist. Two large slices of as-ordered-rare beef were gloriously tender, a very small fatty edge and an excellent gravy adding extra punches of richness and flavour, complemented by pretty garden veg (beautifully seasoned in a very light coating of good butter). There were Yorkshires and roast potatoes, of course, but the excellent beef was the point. Wtih no space for pudding, I powered my way through a generous slice of first class bitter chocolate fondant cake, its deep brown richness tempered by a light green subtly flavoured pistachio ice cream. My hosts (thank you for such a treat) chose an excellent, full bodied red. Well-spaced tables gave a feeling of luxury as did the service which, as others have noted, is on the formal side. Anything less would be disrespectful of its very special location and wow factor view.
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