Light House

75-77 Ridgway, Wimbledon, London, England, SW19 4ST, United Kingdom

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Quite why prosperous Wimbledon has so few decent restaurants is a mystery. The Lighthouse opened in 1999 and is one of the few good choices in the area. Its dining room is in a terrace of shops with a blue frontage and large picture windows. The dining room is light and airy, with a fairly high ceiling and simple, modern decor. The floor is a mix of a central wood floor and cream tiles around this. Walls are mostly cream, adorned with a few modern paintings. The wooden tables have no tablecloths but there are white linen napkins. Chairs are pretty basic, chrome tubular chairs with wooden backs and brown upholstery.

The menu is modern British and appealing, with eight starters and eight mains. Bread is a choice of white or brown slices, and is made from scratch on the premises; it has the virtue of being nicely seasoned (15/20). The wine list ranges from £13.75 for house wine up to a £100 bottle of Leoville Barton 1996 (maybe twice retail price), and Chassagne Montrachet Bachelet Ramonet 2005 at £50 (retail price round £16). There are plenty of choices in the £20 - £35 range e.g. Wairau River Riesling 2006 at £26.75 (about £11 retail).

I began with a risotto of goat cheese, broad beans, peas and rocket (£7.50). The vegetables were of good quality but the rice itself was rather mushy and lacked taste, as if it was made in a very watery stock (12/20). Caesar salad with boquerones (Spanish anchovies), soft boiled egg and shaved pecorino had decent leaves but suffered from poor quality boquerones that lacked taste and were rather soggy in texture (12/20). 

For the main course, baked salmon (£12.75) was cooked properly, served with a rather bland lentil dhal, but with a tasty green pepper chutney and a good raita and flat bread (13/20). Potato gnocchi (£12.50) were pleasant, with firm broccoli and tender pieces of roasted butternut squash. This was served with a rich sauce made from Gorgonzola, onions, garlic, milk, rosemary and thyme. The rich sauce needed a bit of something acidic to balance it, being rather rich on its own, but was well executed (13/20). A rocket and Parmesan salad appeared initially with no Parmesan, but when replaced it had a good dressing and fresh leaves.

For dessert, mango parfait was served with poached rhubarb. This was a nicely balanced dish, with the rhubarb providing welcome acidity, and the mango parfait had plenty of flavour and smooth texture (13/20). Homemade vanilla yoghurt with spice plum and crumble (£5.50) was better, with excellent yoghurt (14/20). Desserts, from an ex-Boxwood Cafe pastry chef, were a little better than the savoury dishes. Coffee had good taste (14/20), served with a little fudge and some pleasant chocolates. The bill for two was £135.56 with a £47 bottle of wine and no pre-dinner drinks, though with one glass of dessert wine. Service mellowed through the evening, and dishes appeared at a steady pace. Overall, this is a pleasant neighbourhood restaurant.

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