Bingham Riverhouse; a review

The tennis championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, more commonly known as ‘Wimbledon’, brings excitement to our little corner of south west London every summer. And for those two weeks it’s hard to venture out of our borough. But now that the tennis is over it’s worth noting that south west London has more to offer than just two weeks of tennis.

Sitting on the River Thames at Richmond, the Bingham Riverhouse gives you beautiful views whether you’re seated inside or out. Having recently undergone a makeover with a £1m refurbishment and a new Head Chef – one who has a Michelin Bib Gourmond and 3 AA Rosettes – the Bingham Riverhouse is definitely worth visiting this summer. While it has the feel of a members club as you enter – there’s no garish neon signage at this restaurant, only a discreet name plate by the door – we were told by the team that their aim is for the restaurant to be far more accessible than it was in it’s former life, so please don’t put off booking because you think it’s too posh; everyone is welcome at the Bingham Riverhouse!

I can’t lie, as I stood on the balcony enjoying my aperitif cocktail, I did feel like I could’ve been in a period film, one that’s set in the twilight of the big houses’ heyday. There is a calmness to the river, despite it being kept busy with rowers training, birds flying overhead looking for supper, aeroplanes flying to nearby Heathrow; noise seemed to disappear and it was just me and my drink. And the many other guests enjoying the Bingham Riverhouse that evening too!

I was treated to a tasting menu which included torched mackerel, raw beef with a spiced tomato relish and raw egg yolk (I would call this steak tartare), and delectable duck (the most beautiful slices of rose-pink duck breast). The absolute stand-out dishes for me were the pig head croquette (I’m still dreaming of that succulent meat) and the salmon with oyster mayo and crispy oyster on the side. Simply heavenly. We finished off our feast with a pudding of bitter chocolate with wild strawberry sorbet, which I certainly went wild for!

You can enjoy dining at the Bingham Riverhouse from just £37 (for two courses, £45 for three courses) and I would say with such fine quality food and beautiful surroundings it’s really not to be missed. Dining here may become another British summertime tradition for me!

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Award season celebrations

It’s award season in Merton! And I was thrilled that Willow Bough, my beautiful little tea shop in Wimbledon, is a finalist in the Best Customer Service category of the Merton Best Business Awards run by Merton Chamber of Commerce. We’ve only been open for two years and are still becoming known in the borough, but it seems that so far our customers like what we’re doing!

 

We work really hard at Willow Bough to provide a high level of customer service, along with excellent food. We know it’s not just what’s on your plate that counts when eating out and you really do get the whole experience at Willow Bough.

So in September I’ll be dusting off my posh frock and glamming up for the awards ceremony. Whatever the results, I’m sure we’ll have a wonderful time and will feel proud just to have reached the final

We’ve also been nominated in two categories – Best Coffee/Tea House and Best Service – in the Time and Leisure Best Business Awards. Voting is still open so please do take a few minutes to make my day and vote for Willow Bough and hopefully there’ll be another award ceremony to get dressed up for!

Anyone for tennis?!

It’s that time of year… if you listen carefully enough you can hear the tap of the ball and the polite clapping, you can smell the grass in the air and taste the strawberries. Yes, it’s Wimbledon fortnight, the two weeks of the year when the London borough of Merton covers every last inch of itself in purple and green bunting, tennis attire appears in almost every shop window and tennis fever overcomes the borough’s residents – both permanent and those here just for the tournament.

As the final approaches many of us locals will be heading off to Henman Hill/Murray Mount with picnics to watch the finals. And we’ll need something refreshing to take with us… We’re now doing picnics and takeaway cream teas at the Willow Bough Tea Rooms (Wimbledon’s traditional tea room) but you can also do your own. Here are some of my tips for enjoying a Wimbledon picnic with a twist…

As we all know, the Wimbledon weather can be unpredictable – it’ll either be a total downpour or a scorcher, so it’s good to be prepared for both. If it’s a scorcher it’ll be important to drink plenty of fluids. There are lots of delicious bottled and canned drinks out there – at Willow Bough we especially like the San Pellegrino and Fentimans drinks. If you’re looking for something healthier and cheaper I really like to jazz up plain water with fruit. Just pop a couple of pieces of fruit, such as strawberries, or slices of lemon or orange, or some mint leaves into a bottle of water. It makes keeping hydrated taste so much better!

Strawberries and cream are a Wimbledon tradition, and for the adults I like to give this a twist by soaking the strawberries in vodka first. Strawberries are porous and absorb liquid like a sponge, so you won’t need to soak them for too long to enjoy strawberries with a kick!

Scones are so easy to make, and I like to add a twist by adding strawberries to them. You can either used fresh strawberries that you dry yourself in the oven or you can use already-dried strawberries. Please note that using already dried strawberries IS NOT CHEATING! Enjoy your strawberry scones with strawberry jam (I highly recommend Jam Packed Preserves strawberry extra jam, available to buy in Willow Bough) and clotted cream. I would say that you need to make sure you eat your picnic quickly before the clotted cream goes off in the sunshine, but I’m sure your scones will be so delicious this won’t be a problem!

Strawberry scones (makes 9)

Ingredients

350g self-raising flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

80g cold butter

175ml milk

3 tablespoons sugar

A generous handful of dried strawberries

Egg to glaze

Method

Sieve together the flour, salt and baking powder.

Using your fingertips, rub the cold butter into the flour until you have what looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and stir in the milk. Add the dried strawberries and use your hands to bring the mixture together into a dough.

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and use a scone cutter to cut into rounds. Glaze the scones with beaten egg before baking at 150c for around 20 minutes or until golden.