My wife and I don’t have a garden (something we are hoping to remedy in the not too distant future) and as such we become rather forlorn when the weather decides to get its act together. To combat this we decided just over a year ago to become members of Kew Gardens, a rather fabulous botanical gardens in south-west London which has some truly spectacular displays and installations. Earlier this year we went along to see the Magnolia trees in all their pomp, where I was able to observe that the scent of an in-bloom Magnolia is somewhat reminiscent of a nice Alsatian Gewürztraminer.
A couple of weeks ago we made our way over to Kew for our second trip of the year with the aim of seeing the famous Bluebells in the Bluebell glade around Princess Charlotte’s Cottage. On our way towards the Bluebells we happened upon a Peacock who decided that he was going to show off to the group of onlookers that had developed around him by revealing his magnificent plumage. This was one of those situations that takes one’s breath away. Peacocks are often portrayed as somewhat regal, if perhaps a little preening and arrogant – but if I were a Peacock and had the magnificent plumage that this chap has I think I would be putting on a show any time that I had an audience too!
Given the number of trips that we’ve made to Kew over the last year or so I was a little disappointed with myself when I only recently found out that the sister restaurant of one of my favourite London restaurants (Chez Bruce – see previous review) was located just a few hundred metres from the entrance. We decided to use our latest visit to Kew to try this restaurant out. The Glasshouse, just like Chez Bruce, is a one Michelin starred restaurant; it is beautifully tastefully decorated, exuding a quiet and refined elegance.
I started with a Loch Duart Salmon with Prawn Beignet, Avacado, Pickled Cucumber and Oyster Dressing. As you will see from the picture this was a rather dramatic plate of food with vibrant colours from the pink of the salmon, to the green of the pickled cucumber; coupled with the impressive prawn beignet looming over the plate. The salmon had been cooked in a waterbath and as such was juicy and succulent with an absolutely wonderful flavour. It was also a pleasingly substantial portion that really allowed you to take your time over it and enjoy the experience. The combination of the ingredients on the plate was delightful and a great way to get started,
With the starter I decided to push the metaphorical boat out and take a glass of 2002 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Domaine Bonneau du Martray (Burgundy, France) which was poured from a Coravin. This was a double first for me – first time having wine poured from a Coravin and also first time having a Corton Charlemagne, a region of Burgundy I’d long wanted to experience. The wine had a slightly subtle nose with some stone fruit (peaches), but also that toasty, nutty, vanilla fragrance that characterises an aged White Burgundy. On the mouth it starts with a brightness of red apple, but after about ten seconds it mellows out and deepens with a rich buttery, toasty mellowness. Sublime. Quality 9.0, Value 4.0.
Next up was Cornish Cod with Wye Valley Aspargus, Crushed Potatoes, Confit Lemon and Mussel Beignet. Once more the dish was presented very nicely, with the greens of the broad beans and the asparagus contrasting the pink of the shrimps. The cod was of a decent size, with a great meaty texture to it. This was a dish that came together really nicely, one of the stars being the confit lemon which gave a somewhat unexpected tart, citrus bite.
With the main course we went for a half bottle of 2011 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Floatières, Domaine Alain Chavy (Burgundy, France). This was a complete contrast to the Corton Charlemagne, it was bright, fresh and crisp on the nose with zingy lime and green apple. On the mouth it was bright and alive with plenty of vibrancy to it. A thoroughly decent, if somewhat anticlimactical in contrast to its predecessor, wine. Quality: 7.5, Value: 6.0.
For pudding we had a giant Lime Macaroon with Lemon Curd and Mango Sorbet. The macaroon was rather chewy and the lemon curd was pleasing, but the star of this dish was the beautiful chunks of mango and the mango sorbet. I would happily have had twice as much mango and a smaller macaroon. The flavour of the mango was very pronounced and intense.
I had high hopes for The Glasshouse following my previous experience at Chez Bruce and I wasn’t let down at all. Given the number of times a year that we visit Kew I think we will be heading back in the not too distant future.