The Bingham is a boutique hotel with an attractive view over the Thames. If coming by car, parking is awkward, but the nearby Poppy Factory appears to allow visitors in the evening. The dining room has a wide outlook over the Thames, and on a nice evening (as this was) you can sit on the terrace. The only drawback to this is the uncomfortable outside chairs. The tasting menu was £65 (£105 with wine pairing). If you stick to the a la carte then three courses would set you back £45.
The wine list had some good growers but has mark-ups that would shame an establishment in Mayfair. Drouhin Pinot Noir 2007 was listed at £69 for a wine that costs £19 to buy, Lagrange 2003 was a hefty £115 compared to a retail price of £29, while the excellent and now somewhat rare Mas de Daumas Gassac 1990 was an outrageous £260 for a wine that can be found for £48. At the upper end of the list, Margaux 1989 was £960 (+VAT of course) for a wine that can be bought for £276. We drank Bonny Doon Cigare Blanc 2007 for £53 – a wine you can buy for £15 in the shops. Restaurants have to make a profit, but these mark-ups are simply too high, in my view.
Bread is made from scratch and is a choice of slices of white bread, olive foccacia or multi-grain. My favourite of these was the focaccia, but in all cases the texture was enjoyable (15/20). A nibble of ceviche of sea bass was served with a tomato jelly and a little cucumber. This was a refreshing dish (15/20). The first course proper was cauliflower risotto with lobster jelly, tarragon and a cauliflower and lobster dressing. This dish worked very well, the risotto having creamy texture, the lobster jelly a interesting and successful contrast to the texture of the rice, and little crisp bits of cauliflower providing a pleasing additional textural layer (16/20).
Organic salmon was served with a basil and courgette relish, shredded squid and squid ink vinaigrette. This was a pretty dish, the squid in no way rubbery, the basil and courgette relish having good taste, which was just as well as the salmon itself was properly cooked but had limited taste, while the squid ink vinaigrette added some colour; I liked the unannounced addition of crispy ginger (15/20).
Roast quail was served with a summer vegetable salad. The quail was correctly cooked though some more seasoning was in order, while the vegetables were seasonal: asparagus, courgette, properly podded broad beans. All fine, yet the vegetables had little real taste. Admittedly it is hard to get really good vegetables in the UK, but these were unexciting (14/20). Squab pigeon was offered with maize shoots, Scottish girolles and truffle sauce. The pigeon was cooked pink and the girolles were pleasant, but the dish was unexciting; again I found the seasoning too subdued (14/20).
The cheese board was supplied by the nearby Teddington cheese shop, and was in pretty good condition. An aged Comte had quite good taste, though a Morbiere was a little past its prime, and Epoisses had crossed over into that stage which has moved beyond merely ripe (15/20). Coconut rice pudding had a base of pineapple carpaccio, a citrus salad and a good mango ice cream (14/20). Amedei chocolate tart had good quality chocolate, decent pastry and passion fruit sorbet alongside orange Chantilly (15/20). Service was friendly, though a little threadbare in places. The bill came to a chunky £116 a head, which with no pre-dinner drinks or dessert wine, a mid-range wine and coffee seems a lot of money for what was delivered. Generally presentation was good, but I think ingredients could be improved on significantly and seasoning could be dialled up a notch. There were no real errors, but I left staring at the bill and was far from sure this represented good value for money.
Further reviews: 01st Aug 2008