There’s something distinctly British about finishing work half an hour early in the summer months and setting out to find a beer garden. South-West London is saturated with pub gardens, roof terraces, bar patios and any other outdoor drinking space created nowadays, and one particular terrace in Richmond is only made better by the view of the lazy Thames streaming along down below.
Richmond is an unlikely hub for SW Londoners, competing with the likes of the Clapham, Brixton and Balham; all ever-popular with young professionals and newcomers to the capital. Richmond is a step away from the centrality of Clapham and surrounding areas, separated by the expanse of Richmond Park (wildlife included) and of course, the slow-moving vistas of the River Thames.
It is the kind of place you hope to retire to.
Don’t wait until then to pay a visit to Pitcher & Piano Richmond, however. The name may sound familiar as a chain of bars/pubs, but don’t mistake it for a Vodka Revs. Pitcher & Piano in Richmond is relaxed, casual and even tranquil at times. While a must-visit all year round – I celebrated my 21st birthday in December there – in the summer it is really impressive. The terrace opens up from the conservatory, where you can also sit down to eat, overlooking the Thames and Richmond Bridge.
The Salt & Pepper Calamari with Tarragon tartare sauce (£5.50) was generous as a starter, allowing us to share two appetisers between three of us. I always think it’s easy to go wrong with calamari – I recently ate an incredibly salty portion at Greenwood’s in Victoria’s Nova, which to my shock horror was served without lemon slices, and was told afterwards that I shouldn’t expect much from pub food. But that’s exactly what Pitcher & Piano is – albeit good pub food – and the calamari was lightly crumbed, and more importantly, arrived with lemon.
We also tried the Marinated Chicken Skewers with Cucumber & garlic yoghurt dressing (£6.25), which was equally pleasing for the table. The dipping sauce is effectively a Tzatziki; rich in garlic and that wonderful taste of the Mediterranean that cannot be imitated. The chicken skewers were also aplenty, so no worries if the person who doesn’t order a starter (there’s always one) asks you if they can try a skewer.
The Grilled Cod Loin (£11.50) was a favourite for the whole table. Served with with chorizo, sautéed new potatoes, roasted red peppers and harissa crème fraîche, the dish is reminiscent of a good (and spicy) Spanish Chicken, though if you’re not fond of a huge amount of sauce, ask for the harissa crème fraîche in a pot on the side, as it slightly overwhelmed the cod.
If you saw my post about The Old Brewery, you’ll know how much I love chorizo and when things are cooked with chorizo and all the flavour seeps into the dish. The grilled cod loin did exactly this, and with the hint of some sunshine returning to London, it makes this the ideal summer evening dinner.
A classic choice for us was the char-grilled 8oz Rib Eye Steak (£16.50). Grilled just as rare as we asked for it, the steak comes with a confit tomato, flat mushroom, skin-on chips and your choice of peppercorn or bernaise sauce. As it was a warm July evening when we dined, we also went for the Char-grilled Chicken Caesar salad (£11.50).
As an out-and-proud savoury person, I usually say no to even looking at the dessert menu. Then two (absolutely enormous) puddings arrived at Pitcher & Piano. Normally I barely glance at the menu as everything is doused in cream or ice cream but when the Sticky Toffee Pudding (£5.50) was set down it was the warm toffee sauce which caught my eye – the least summery pudding ever but that warm gooey richness is too sumptuous not to try a bite (ie finish the whole thing).
The Chocolate Brownie (£5.50) rounded things off sweetly, stuffed generously with white chocolate chips and drizzled with a trickle of salted caramel sauce. Both desserts were served with classic vanilla ice cream. The figurative cherry on the cake was the arrival of two party rings with the espresso, a wistful throwback to 90s birthday parties and fitting as many rings as possible on one finger.
The food will not disappoint, but the views are what’s worth the trip out to Richmond. Pitcher & Piano is around 10 minutes walk from Richmond underground station and located directly next to Richmond Bridge.
Where is your favourite outdoor spot in London?
Let me know on Twitter! @wanderwomanco