Views of the river, charming decor and top notch food.

Vanessa Marx has  been at Bingham Riverhouse in Richmond for a couple of years, running the kitchen for the events side of the business. 

NowSouth African born Marx has been handed the whole of this lovely Thames-side hotel’s catering by co-owner Samantha Trinder, and she’s certainly making her mark.  She had some big shoes to fill after the departure of Steven Edwards,  winner of MasterChef: The Professionals, but they’ve been stepped into very well indeed.  

Her culinary journey – from Port Elizabeth via Cape Town –  reached great heights: after co-founding Dear Me Food World, a three-level culinary haven, she went on to earn the Eat Out Rising Star Award, propelling her career into television appearances and guest judging on Celebrity MasterChef South Africa. She also successfully launched her own catering and events business before locating to London.  

Vanessa is passionate about the healing power of food and its fundamental role in wellness and sustainability:  and this shines through in the menu she’s created.   Consequently The Riverhouse Restaurant dishes feature consciously sourced produce and ingredients, foraged in harmony with the seasons and local environments.

Marx also promotes a zero-waste ethos, with the menu highlighting wild and foraged ingredients.  It also features some of their own garden-grown botanicals.  Innovative low-waste ingredients include coffee-grown oyster mushrooms, cultivated in their urban rooftop farm in Wimbledon, using waste coffee grounds from the hotel.

The other interesting thing for me, was that two of the dishes I chose are, in fact, vegan, but it was only later that I noticed this. 

The menu is divided into sections: Nibbles; Small Plates; Large Plates; Extra Bits and Sweet.  The pricing is fair and compares well with many top gastro pubs, but the whole set up at Bingham Riverhouse is far, far superior.

I very much enjoyed the gentle kick of spice in my Jalapeno Negroni (Mezcal, Cocchi red vermouth, jalapeño infused Campari) while my husband had a Lucky Saint alco free lager. 

We also were persuaded to accompany our drinks with a nibble portion of Lamb Bobotie Spring Rolls  – a nice nod to Marx’s heritage – served with apple cider chutney.  These were piping hot, crispy tubes packed with delicate curried meat and fruit, and they set the scene for a highly memorable meal.

To start, I had Caramelised Celeriac, with coconut raita, spiced coconut butter, and roasted pumpkin seeds.  This was beautifully presented, absolutely delicious, and I would urge any vegan diner to make a beeline for it.  The coconut yogurt complemented the celeriac perfectly, and the pumpkin seeds added texture and flavour.  

My husband had the  Confit Duck Salad, maple glazed quince, walnut, radicchio – and declared it excellent.  The contrast of textures with the quince and the walnuts added interest, and It would also make a great light lunch dish.  

Before I had a chance to say I fancied the Wild Boar ‘bourguignon’, pancetta and mushroom barley risotto, my husband announced it to be his choice of main course.  Naturally, we can’t have the same dishes when reviewing, so I chose the Brixham Fish market catch – which that evening was Sea Bream – served with lemon beurre blanc and samphire.  

Actually, I was so pleased I did choose this:  it was again served piping hot, with crispy skin seasoned to perfection.  I don’t normally like fish skin, but this was so good I found myself eating it all, and really enjoying it.  

We shared a portion of sweet potato fries and buttered winter greens.  The greens were another triumph: al dente, sugar snap peas, variegated kale and lots of butter.  It clearly demonstrated the skill of a great chef to make a side dish such a hero component. 

My husband’s wild boar looked great and was in a delicious, rich, but not thick, sauce.  The risotto was a different and very tasty accompaniment.  The whole dish was very cleverly composed and executed.

I’m not normally much of a dessert fan, but reader, the ones we tried at Bingham Riverhouse were seriously good.   Kentish cobnut & olive oil cake, grapefruit, olive meringue was outstanding – some sweetness from the coconut and meringue, beautifully balanced with the citrus notes from the grapefruit.

The other dessert we shared was Cacao torte, reishi mushroom, cranberry sorbet, maca date caramel. What can I say? It wasn’t sweet, but it was rich and deeply chocolatey with the tartness of the sorbet giving a fabulous contrast and offsetting the richness.  It was chocoholic heaven for anyone, like me, who loves dark, quality chocolate.  It was stupendous, and here again, I was surprised to discover that it was vegan.

I enjoyed a glass of Louro do Bolo, a Spanish white (wines from £7 a glass and also available by the carafe).  There’s a good selection of alcohol free cocktails too, but no alcohol free wines, to my husband’s chagrin, but he was well supplied with Lucky Saint.

Rooibos tea jellies accompanied our coffee – another clever South African touch. They weren’t too sweet, just delicately fruity and amazingly good.

SW London locals are lucky to have such a fabulous restaurant in Richmond – one with views of the river, charming decor and top notch food.  Full marks to Samantha Trinder and her mother Ruth for handing Vanessa all the culinary reins.

61-63 Petersham Rd, Richmond TW10 6UT