March 4, 2011

Petersham Nurseries & Cafe

After 1.5 years of being in London, I finally made my way to Petersham Nurseries. It has been on my to-do list ever since I moved here since it ticked all the boxes for me - beautiful flowers and plants, interior/homewares and a great chef with a great cafe. Basically everything I could ever dream of. But due to various reasons (weather, laziness, hard-to-get reservations without planning), I never got around to going.

Last weekend, as a spontaneous idea to celebrate a friend's birthday, I called up Petersham on the Friday to see if they had space for Saturday lunch and luckily for me, they had a cancellation and could squeeze us in! So on Saturday, we set off for Richmond but little did I know that the journey would take us 1.5 hours (when google maps told me it would be 25 min with traffic, liars!). By the time we arrived, we were one hour late for our reservation. I had called ahead to inform them but I still felt super bad. It was also raining despite the promise of Spring so the ground was muddy and we got sprinkled on as we trudged through the pot-holed driveway to the nurseries.


The place was bustling, obviously the rain didn't deter the crowd. We walked through the garden and home shop to the back of the greenhouse where the cafe was. Decorated in a Indian ashram meets shabby chic gardenshed style, the cafe was cosy and casual.


Helmed by chef Skye Gyngell, Petersham Cafe recently was awarded a Michelin star though I've been eager to try her cooking even before this. They had a menu dated for that day, which usually indicates to me that they change the menu daily (or so I'd like to think). We shared a starter of Scallops with Agretti and Chilli Oil, and I followed with a main of Spiced Lamb with Butternut Squash and finished off with a Chocolate Hazelnut Cake.

I really loved the starter, not only were the scallops were perfectly done, but it was the first time having agretti for me and I enjoyed the texture and subtle taste (I think I could eat a whole plate of that stuff!). The spiced lamb turned out to be more of a ragout rather than a whole piece of meat but was nevertheless very tender and flavourful. I wasn't that huge a fan of the indian spices but at least it paired well with the butternut squash and yogurt sauce. The chocolate hazelnut cake was good, dark and not too sweet and served with some thick jersey cream. It was heartening to know that Petersham Cafe still retained its honest, home-style cooking that chef Gyngell is known for despite the Michelin star, or perhaps, received a star in spite of that. I've got her "How I Cook" book and love the recipes she presents inside as well.


I was also enthralled by the pretty flowers, decorative items and trinkets that were on sale in the store. Everything was presented so beautifully, every corner you turn there was a gorgeous vignette and of course I was snapping away happily. I was so tempted to buy the vases and the blue tin at the bottom of the picture. I love the table set-ups with the spools of thread. In the end, I came home with 3 potted plants which I hope survive the next few weeks, especially since I'm going to be travelling quite a bit!


If you've not been to Petersham Nurseries and Cafe yet, don't wait for 1.5 years like me before going. Even if you can't get a reservation at the cafe, there's always the quaint teahouse where they serve cakes and light snacks that looked like a great place to spend a lazy weekend afternoon. With spring just round the corner and hopefully warmer weather, I'm sure they'll be getting busy!

Petersham Nurseries
Church Lane
Off Petersham Road
TW10 7A

For cafe bookings:  020 8605 3627

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