By Sue Lancaster
When TV chef Rick Stein opened his first London restaurant just up the road from us in Barnes, my hubby Tom and I knew we had lucked out. We tried it out for lunch on its very first weekend just over a year ago and it has been our date-night venue of choice ever since. The spacious site—which formerly housed The Depot restaurant for 30 years—is in a lovely riverside location with sweeping views of the Thames.
We most recently wandered along for a belated sixth wedding anniversary meal and were lucky enough to be given a window table in the leafy conservatory. Tom and I have both become vegans recently and, despite the restaurant specialising in seafood, they were extremely accommodating of our needs and had a dedicated vegan menu for us to choose from.
We both had a cocktail to start our evening—Appleflower Bellini for me and Ceylon Negroni for Tom—and then chose the tempura vegetables to start, followed by cashew curry with green beans for me, and risotto for Tom. We washed our mains down with a lovely bottle of dry white wine—the lengthy drinks menu has a huge amount of choice including wine, champagne, beers and spirits—and then we finished our meal with some refreshing mango sorbet. As always, we were both very impressed with the food, atmosphere and overall service we received.
As it’s a very upmarket restaurant, a visit to Rick Stein will not come cheap, but if you are a lover of seafood, a visit for a special occasion is a real must. The extensive menu is inspired by Rick’s travels around the world and includes mains such as Indonesian seafood curry (£22.95), John Dory Italiano (£23.95) and Singapore chilli crab (£23.95), which actually comes with a warning on the menu that you will get ‘gloriously messy’. You could really push the boat out with grilled lobster for two (£85), fruits de mer served on ice (£45) or roast troncon of wild turbot with hollandaise sauce (£35.95).
For the slightly less adventurous among us (i.e., me when I was still a meat eater) there are a range of simpler dishes such as chargrilled fillets of seabass (£22.95), ribeye steak with thin cut chips (£29.95), or good old cod and chips with mushy peas (for a less eye-watering £16.95). Whatever you choose, the dishes are always deliciously fresh, full of flavour and perfectly presented. There is also a considerable list of starters and appetisers including oysters, mackerel, grilled sardines, sautéed squid and scallops, a lot of which are under £10. Similarly, the dessert menu offers several reasonably priced options such as passionfruit pavlova and sticky toffee pudding. The menu changes frequently according to the season and up-to-date sample menus are available online.
Alongside the main lunch and dinner menu, the restaurant offers a set lunch menu, available Monday to Friday. This is priced at £20 for two courses or £25 for three. You can also stop by for morning coffee between 9 and 11am every day. Food is served from noon until 10pm every day. There is a small seafood bar, which is a lovely place to sit and have a drink while watching the chefs put together platters of oysters, langoustines, crab and sashimi, and a courtyard where you can dine al fresco if the weather is nice.
Rick Stein restaurant is very welcoming of children and has a separate menu for under-12s, with two courses costing £7.50 or three for £9.95. Choices include mac and cheese or fish and chips for mains, with kids’ favourites jelly and ice cream or chocolate brownie for dessert. We took our two young girls with us the first time we visited and it was a very successful meal out with them.
To get to Rick Stein, the nearest train station is Barnes Bridge, which is a few minutes’ walk away; trains from Waterloo stop here. Or bus numbers 209 and 419 stop just outside the restaurant. For more information and to book online visit the website: rickstein.com/eat-with-us/barnes.
An Essex girl, Sue came to London 12 years ago and never left. She moved to West Kensington with her now-husband, then spent a couple of years living in Stamford Brook, before finally settling down in Mortlake. Prior to becoming a mum, Sue worked in TV production. She now stays at home, looking after toddler Tabitha and baby Polly, and writing whenever she can.