Below are notes from a meal in August 2008.
The Bingham is a smart boutique hotel in Richmond which had a major makeover in February 2008. It has a lovely view over the river, with an attractive terrace garden. On this warm August evening we were able to dine on the balcony overlooking the river. The menu is British, with half a dozen choice for each course. Starters range from £7.50 to £12, mains £14 - £23, desserts £6 to £8. There is also a set lunch at £23 for three courses.
The wine list spans the world and has some well chosen growers. The excellent Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling 2005 is listed at £28 for a wine that retails at around £8, Felton Road Chardonnay 2005 is £52 for a wine that costs around £14 in the shops, and Trimbach Cuvee Frederich Emile 2003 is £55 for a wine that will cost you over £20 retail. There are four dessert wines by the glass, but be aware that these are a mere 70 ml in size.
Bread is made from scratch in the kitchen, slices of white and brown. These had good taste and I particularly liked the white bread, which had good texture; perhaps a touch more salt would have improved it further (15/20). An amuse bouche of Jerusalem artichoke and lemon balm soup had good flavour but was tepid by the time it was served at the table. Potato chips could have been crisper, and Parmesan goujeres suffered from not rising sufficiently, consequently being rather heavy in texture, and not having enough cheese added to the base; they were also lukewarm when they arrived (13/20).
A starter of scallops lifted the level of the meal, the scallops being very carefully cooked, just on the edge of undercooking (which I much prefer to the alternative) prettily presented with pickled cherries, smoked duck and a peanut butter veloute that I was rather worried about as a concept but was fortunately almost invisible (15/20). I'm not sure that the duck really added anything to the dish; the scallops were good enough to speak for themselves.
A salad of artichokes was again attractively laid out, with artichoke hearts, pickled garlic, mixed leaves, artichoke crisps, duxelle of artichoke and a cep marmalade, with a nicely made truffle hollandaise (15/20). A garlic risotto worked well, the rice having absorbed the stock well, topped with wild sorrel, trompette mushrooms, garlic chips and Parmesan veloute.
Slow cooked suckling pig was another successful dish, the pork belly a fraction dry but the pork otherwise nicely cooked, the crackling superb, on a bed of hispi cabbage with roast shallots and pommery mustard; seasoning was also good. The salt cod brandade on the side seemed a flavour too many to me, and I’d have been tempted to increase the amount of cabbage and jus relative to the generous amount of protein, but nonetheless this was proper cooking (16/20).
Cheeses are supplied from the Teddington Cheese Shop, and are mostly British. Golden Cross cheddar was powerful, Ticklemore a little chalky, Shropshire blue robust, Epoisses not quite ripe but the cheeses were generally in good condition (15/20). The desserts did not live up to the standard of the rest of the meal. A lemon parfait tasted of nothing; a “salad” of citrus fruits e.g. grapefruit slices with it was fine but was the only acidic taste present (10/20). Chocolate doughnuts were flaccid, served with black figs that were not properly caramelised, though served with a good yoghurt mousse and cream cheese sorbet (13/20).
Petit fours were similarly a let-down, with a dried out lemon financier that barely tasted of lemon, a rather tasteless jelly and salted caramels that were rock hard and needed more salt, and a slightly soggy pumpkin and saffron tuile. The coffee was actually rather good, but the kitchen is badly in need of a better pastry chef. The service was very good indeed;our waiter was attentive and friendly. Chef Shay Cooper trained at Juniper, Putney Bridge and The Vineyard, and was head chef at the Endsleigh Hotel in Devon. He shows a gift for attractive and not over-ornamented presentation, and savoury dishes are well seasoned and carefully cooked. Currently the overall standard is being let down by the pastry.