Coming in from Petersham Road to the small hotel reception of The Bingham Hotel, and walking through into the impressive bar, you feel surprisingly at home. Despite the elegant high ceilings, large mirrors and picture windows, the impression is of quiet opulence. Despite sympathetic modernisation, Lady Anne Bingham – the former owner of the two Georgian town houses that became this charming boutique hotel – might still recognise her old home.
We’re seated at a small but capacious table by the far window, overlooking the balcony where we could have eaten had the evening been a little warmer. We watch canoeists paddle by as we study Head Chef Shay Cooper’s tempting menu. Dishes are simple but served in excellent style and this is immediately evident from the amuse-bouche of mackerel tartar and gazpacho jelly that our waiter brings us. The flavours are tangy, the textures smooth.
We start with Smoked Eel Risotto with tomato jelly, coriander, heirloom tomato and cucumber vinaigrette, and Artichoke Salad, served with cep marmalade, baby leaves and truffle hollandaise. The Bingham champions boutique winemakers, and our waiter successfully suggests a Pouilly-Fumé Domaine de Bel Air 2008 with both the risotto and artichoke. To follow, I decide on Salt Marsh Lamb with sweetbreads, roast aubergine, fried lentil purée and capers and accept a glass of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon with it. My companion trusts a Fumé to the tangy seafood bisque that’s poured lovingly around her Roast Monkfish, served with razor clams, squid, scallop, fennel marmalade and citrus oil. And it’s a superb blend of tastes. Despite not being a fan of clams, even I’m won over by the wonderfully balanced combination of fish, bisque and seafood. My medium-rare lamb is meltingly good. The salt in the meat and the capers is mellowed by the aubergine and purée, and the smoky Cabernet makes each mouthful an event.
But there’s more to come. We finish with Honeycomb Rice Pudding, set off beautifully by red wine jelly, caramelised figs and coffee ice cream, and a simply amazing Amedei Chocolate Tart, garnished with orange Chantilly, passion fruit sorbet and cocoa tuille. Cooper’s choice of ingredients and blends is inspired, particularly with the tart, and the Banylus Rimage 2007 dessert wine is almost unnecessary. The Chateau Laville 2005 complements a slightly overshadowed rice pudding, but presentation makes up for coming a close second.
Food – 5/5
Venue – 5/5
Value – 5/5
Cuisine type – Good old English with flair
3-course meal for two (excl. drinks, VAT & service) – £78
Tasting menu for two (excl. drinks, etc) – £110
The Bingham Hotel and Restaurant
61-63 Petersham Road,
Surrey, TW10 6UT
Tel: 020 8940 0902