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Glasshouse

14 Station Parade, Kew, London, England, TW9 3PZ, United Kingdom

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This opened in mid 1999 and finally brought classy cooking to this prosperous but culinarily challenged area of West London.  Just yards from Kew tube station, the triangular restaurant has floor to ceiling glass windows and modern décor.  It is a sister restaurant to La Trompette, the Ledbury, Chez Bruce and The Square. The new chef at the Glasshouse (since spring 2010 is Daniel Mertl, who was previously sous-chef at sister restaurant La Trompette. Bread is partly made from scratch (excellent walnut and raisin bread and pleasant white bread) and partly bought-in – sourdough from Poilane (15/20 bread, more for the walnut and raisin slices). The wine list was quite extensive and has good global coverage, as well as some rather inconsistent mark-ups. Cuvee Anna “Castel Turmhof” 2008 was listed at £36 compared to a retail price of around a tenner, Chateau Monregard La Croix 2002 was a slightly costly £75 for a wine that costs about £21 in the shops, and Ribolla Gialla 2004 was £75 compared to a shop price about £23.  Chateau Trotanoy 1998 seemed to me the bargain of the list at £170 for a wine that will set you back slightly more than this retail.

The chef’s background showed in the starter of seared loin of tuna with salad of radish, coriander, soy and sesame, with a single tempura prawn as garnish. The tuna was nicely prepared and the salad excellent, the leaves fresh and the dressing well balanced and refreshing. I am not sure what the tempura prawn really adds here, but this is a fine dish (16/20). This was better than steamed paupiette of sea bass and Cornish crab with mussels a la mariniere. For me there were too many elements to this dish, compounded by the mussels not being properly cleaned, with several pieces of grit appearing: sloppy (13/20).

Another old favourite from La Trompette was the poulet noir with potato gnocchi, braised leeks, arbois and tarragon. The chicken was nicely cooked, the gnocchi competent and avoiding sogginess, while the jus flavoured with tarragon was rich and a good foil for the chicken (15/20). Roast fillet of wild halibut was well timed, served with asparagus, crushed Jersey Royal potatoes, citrus fruit and chervil sauce (15/20).

For dessert, compote of rhubarb sat as a layer on top of home-made vanilla yoghurt, with a biscotti as garnish. The rhubarb’s natural acidity was not too pronounced, and was a good balance to the yoghurt, though I have had better biscotti (15/20).  Other desserts sampled were a capable custard tart with dressed raspberries and clotted cream, and a slightly over-done crème brulee with (seasonal) apricot compote. Coffee was of good quality, and the double espresso was served as a respectable-sized measure. Overall, this was just about 15/20 level cooking, with just one somewhat faulty dish in the meal, and service was good. The bill came to £50 a head, which was artificially low due to a special offer. Three courses are normally £39.50.

The notes below are from a meal in May 2008.

The dining room has plenty of natural light and is just yards from Kew tube station. Rare grilled tuna was nicely presented with artichoke and cockle barigoule (14/20). Warm English asparagus was in season and tender, but the crab and mustard cress mousseline on which it rested had so little crab that it was almost invisible (14/20). Better was spaghetti of rabbit with wild mushrooms, tarragon, shallot cream topped with Parmesan, the spaghetti having good texture, the mushrooms going well with the rabbit (15/20). 

Crisp John Dory was timed well, served with a tender king prawn and fennel puree on top of a galette of potato, with tomato and broad bean vinaigrette. This dish worked well, the galette providing a texture contrast and the vinaigrette complementing but not overwhelming the John Dory (15/20). This was better than grilled halibut with a brandade crust, which suffered from overcooked fish, resting on a bed of sweet and sour Provencal vegetables with aioli that was too acidic, with overcooked courgette in particular (13/20 at best). A ravioli of chicken, sweetbread and pig’s trotter with morels and celeriac was a rich dish which had good pasta and perhaps a flavour component or two more than was really needed (15/20). The large chips were very impressive, despite their size being nicely cooked all the way through (17/20). 

Passion fruit sorbet with shortbread biscuit had excellent sorbet with strong passion fruit flavour, while the biscuit could have been a little crisper (15/20). Coffee was fine, served with good chocolate truffles (16/20). Service from a friendly South African waitress was very pleasant, and the sommelier was helpful and knew her wines. The appealing menu has three courses for £37.50, with side vegetables at £3.50 and coffee also at £3.50. Overall the Glasshouse offers an attractive menu in relaxing surroundings, but with one or two slips in technique that one would not expect in a restaurant with a Michelin star.

Here are brief notes from a meal in June 2004.

With a maitre d’ previously at the late lamented Chez Max the service hums along, and the kitchen produces excellent modern British dishes.  An example might be haddock with coriander risotto, or halibut on a shrimp omelette.  One dish that impressed me was a shoulder of pork cut into four slices, very tender and surrounded by strips of almost translucent bacon that melted in the mouth.  The meat was set on top a base of fondant potato, a layer of cooked apple and some excellent, crispy Savoy cabbage to give an earthy contrast to the sweetness of the fondant potato and apple.  The wine list has plenty of choices from around the world, and there is the sublime De Bortoli Noble One available at dessert time. 

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  • Ewan

    Absolutely loved my meal here. Starter: Ceps with pearl barley risotto, roasted hazelnuts, black garlic and winter truffle. The ceps were good but the risotto was amazing. I wanted to see what they'd do with barley, which isn't easy to work with, and it had superb texture, as did the rest of the plate. Just totally harmonious both in mouthfeel and flavor. A great early winter dish. Main: Loin of cornish cod with squid, brandade, cauliflower purée, meat juices and gremolata. A great piece of fish, lightly cooked, and the accompaniments generally went well with it. Brandade doesn't do a huge amount for me but this was a good example of it. The accompaniments were maybe a little oversalted but not by much. Dessert: Warm poached pear with baked spiced cream, prunes and granola. Not quite as good as the previous two courses - thought some of the textures were a bit odd and the cream was almost fridge cold. Still, it tasted great and these are minor complaints. With one glass of dessert wine and a bottle of water, it was just over £60 including service. I can't wait to go back.

  • Joshua

    Very much in agreement with Andy's rundown of the May 2008 meal. The starters provided no astounding tastes, but were generally high-level dishes well composed and executed. The highlight was the spaghetti, as the pasta’s firm texture grounded the dish; the meat provided its emphasis; and the accompaniments filled out the taste nicely. The tuna was gorgeously presented and with a dainty but slightly unfulfilling taste. Asparagus with crab was light and delicate on a hot day, but the flavor of the crab barely came through. The main courses dipped slightly, though without any overt faults. Best was the crispy piece of John Dory; the dish’s biggest weakness to my mind was a king prawn that was tender but not particularly tasty. Grilled halibut with a texturally pleasing crust on top was a weaker fish in itself, and certainly less astutely accompanied by vegetables that drowned it a bit. The raviolo of chicken, sweetbread, and pig’s trotter showed another good pasta consistency, but the meat failed to articulate a distinctive taste, becoming dominated by the accompanying morels and celeriac more than a dish of such rich potential for meaty flavors should (I might say 4/10). Unquestionably excellent were the thick, crispy, and perfectly salted chips. Desserts reached a slightly higher plane overall, with the successfully sharp and refreshing passion fruit sorbet, and a nice combination of shortbread, fresh raspberries, and white chocolate mousse. Chocolate truffles were satisfyingly rich, and the bread throughout – in four flavors, with a rosemary variety proving the most interesting – fluffy and agreeable.

  • Rod

    Had an excellent meal here in November 07. Decor is simple but effective, with tables close, but not too much so. Service was good, but on this occasion rather on the slow side. Food was consistently good from starters through to dessert. Although, strangely, I feel the one weak dish of the evening was a variant on the pork Andy describes as a stand out in his review; I felt it was slightly bland. An excellent cheese board is also offered. Wine is fairly wide ranging, but with often excessive mark-ups; this is not too much of an issue, however, given the superb value of the good (£35 for 3 courses; £50 for 7 course tasting menu). Deserving of its Michelin star, but looks a fair way off a second.