Scott's of Richmond

4 Whittaker Avenue, London, TW9 1TH, United Kingdom

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Sister to Scott’s of Mayfair (which dates back to 1853), the Richmond branch opened in late 2022. The restaurant has a handsome riverside setting, spread over two floors and seating up to 176 diners at any one time. There is also an open-air roof terrace looking directly over the Thames for drinks in suitable weather. No expense seems to have been spared in the fit out, with a very attractive upstairs bar and a light, airy dining room with well-spaced tables and a large central display of lobsters on ice. The menu was a la carte and quite extensive, the emphasis being on fish and seafood, but with a few meat dishes too. There was also a set three course lunch at £34.50, though that menu did not include any vegetable side dishes. The head chef was Tom Fraser, who was formerly senior sous chef at Scott’s in Mayfair.

The wine list had 208 labels and ranged in price from £34 to £4,700, with a median price of £115 and an average markup to retail price of 3.4 times, which is a markup level at the higher end of Mayfair pricing at present. Sample references were Luigi Bosca La Linda Torrontes 2021 at £42 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £12, Domaine Ostertag Les Jardins Pinot Blanc 2020 at £69 compared to its retail price of £18, and Ata Rangi Pinot Gris 2020 at £89 for a wine that will set you back £26 in the high street. For those with the means there was Dagueneau Silex Pouilly-Fumé 2018 at £300 compared to its retail price of £181, and Château Montrose St-Estèphe 2010 at £600 for a wine whose current market value is £221. Remarkably, there were actually two (albeit expensive) wines on the list below their current retail price, presumably due to an oversight.

A basked of bread slices, both white and brown, appeared but tasted just a little stale to me. My starter was a trio of Scottish scallops served on their shells with a little rock salt, garnished with a mild curry sauce. The scallops, despite the waiter’s assurance that they were very large, were really just medium in size and had moderate natural sweetness, though they were cooked well enough. Unfortunately, they also had a little sand/grit still in them, which should really have been removed in the cleaning of the shellfish before cooking; perhaps the scallops has been dredged rather than hand-dived (12/20). My dining companion had the sauteed monkfish cheeks with snails (£17) which had reasonably tender monkfish. The fish was sautéed with snails and lardons, garnished with spring onion and served in a “Bordelaise sauce”. On the side was a piece of fried bread on top of a roasted bone containing the marrow. The ingredients worked well together though the snails themselves were on the chewy side. However, the main issue with the dish was the red wine sauce. There was no discernible flavour of red wine and it was seemed to be a sticky demi-glace rather than a good Bordelaise sauce, which should combine a demi-glace with shallots, butter, bone marrow and red wine (13/20).

Grilled Dover sole meuniere (£48) was served on the bone and was quite nice, the fish cooked perhaps a fraction longer than ideal. The fish itself had nice enough flavour, the butter sauce with chopped parsley having just enough lemon to not be overly rich (13/20). My companion had the Cornish red chicken (£26.50) with Jerusalem artichoke, leek and truffle. The initial version served had unfortunately gone cold by the time it arrived, but the restaurant arranged a replacement without fuss. The hot version was pleasant, the chicken being cooked sous-vide before being finished in the pan. The bird itself did not have a great deal of flavour if you compare it with a high quality chicken from Landes or Bresse, but it was accurately cooked and seasoned. Jerusalem artichoke was in season but the tiny puree and razor thin slices lacked generosity. The Italian truffles used did not really elevate the dish much (13/20). Chips (£5) were fine, reasonable crisp and properly seasoned (13/20). I enjoyed kimchi Brussels sprouts (£5.75) with edamame beans and sesame, an unusual idea that worked nicely, the sprouts carefully cooked and well able to handle the gentle spice of the kimchi (14/20).

Apple pie (£9.50) used Bramley apples, which were just at the end of their season. Although the pastry was apparently made from scratch in the kitchen it was rather dry, having an almost biscuit-like texture; almost as if it had been bought-in frozen. Indeed, the overall impression of the dish was surprisingly dry, the acidity of the apples not really coming through well (11/20). Chocolate fondant (£12.50) with mascarpone was much better, with a liquid chocolate centre and the nutty flavour of the mascarpone working nicely with the richness of the chocolate (14/20). Coffee was from Workshop Coffee in London, and was fine.

Service was good throughout the meal, led by a capable manager called William Rogers. The bill came to £179 per person including a bottle of wine and glasses of champagne. Scott’s in Richmond is certainly an effective clone of the original in Mayfair. It has a terrific location and the décor is classy, with an appealing menu and good service. However, the food itself is merely decent, and for me that is a major issue when you see an inevitably large bill. The cheapest starter was £13.50, the cheapest meat main course £26.50 and the cheapest fish main course £20 (haddock and chips) so even if you just ordered the three cheapest courses, a side of vegetables and had tap water then your bill with service would still be £62 each. If you ordered mid-priced dishes and shared a modest bottle of wine then your bill would be more like £95 a person. This could quickly escalate if you strayed further up the wine list or indulged in grander dishes with caviar or lobster. This seems to me an awful lot of money for the level of food that appeared. I suspect that most diners here will be entirely untroubled by this as they savour the riverside view and the genuinely classy fixtures and fittings. Indeed, on a Tuesday lunch in February the place was distinctly busy, with the table next to us being turned, so the owners clearly know their market.

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