This family-run bar and restaurant successfully combines a cosy local pub complete with pork scratchings, whilst also providing the discerning tastes of Teddington with a genuine slice of Italian fine dining in its restaurant.
Teddington High Street is a dream of a place for the affluent families and single professionals who live nearby. In many ways it is a grown-up Battersea for fortysomethings who like their wine fine and their conversation articulate. Shambles Bar and
Restaurant fits the bill and despite a huge amount of competition in the area, offers more than just your local trattoria.
The warmly lit, homely bar at the front of house is full of comfortable red seating, with a mixture of bare brick, cream painted walls and solid wooden panelling providing the rest of the visuals. The walk through to the restaurant is past the piano, where live
music is performed on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and you will also see an open fireplace, and more refined cream and dark wood chairs and tables. The restaurant, itself, leads out onto a really lovely garden complete with luscious greenery and
tables for al fresco dining.
Teddington is one of the only places in South London where there is a genuinely villagey atmosphere - the locals all seem to know each other and the majority of the restaurants and boutiques are independently owned. It’s more relaxed than
neighbouring Richmond and at Shambles you can happily sit on your own at the bar without feeling self-conscious before someone offers a friendly hello.
In the evening the bar buzzes with a laid-back but sensibly attired middle-aged crowd, while the dining room is a tad dressier. The staff echo the vibe of the two separate parts – they’re smart, attentive and incredibly polite in the restaurant; casual and
brusque at the bar. The piano accompaniment on the weekends gets gradually more enthusiastic as the evening progresses and, if Frank Sinatra tunes are your bag, then you’ll be ready to settle in for the night.
You know you’re off to a good start when the waiter brings round a basket of assorted freshly baked bread. This is just the first of a whole host of difficult decisions you are faced with at the Shambles.
The next thing to chew over: even though the simple garlic bread (£2.95) is packed with flavour, it seems a shame not to have one of the many other tempting starters. This is modern Italian fare and while you can still feast on classic dishes such as beef carpaccio with rocket, Parmesan
and truffle oil (£9.95) and mixed cured meats (£11.95 for two people), you should try the roasted red onion and marinated green beans with red wine dressing (£8.95) which packs a healthy yet delicious punch.
When contemplating a more substantial dish it is tempting to order a pasta dish because they are very good. They are largely old favourites such as fusilli alla arrabiatta (albeit a particularly spicy version, £10.95), cannelloni di carne (£11.95) and lasagne
(£12.95), but the portions are so generous you may regret not leaving room for dessert.
Vegetarians, however, are wise to opt for the pasta for their main course as the rest of the list weighs rather heavily, but unsurprisingly, on the meat side. Confirmed carnivores are spoilt for choice – slow roast pork belly (£16.95), grilled Scottish venison (£17.95)
and salt marsh lamb in Chianti (£15.95) are just a handful of the regional dishes lovingly prepared by head chef Massimo Langella, using herbs and vegetables from just outside in the garden.
The best advice for visitors to Shambles - make a concerted effort to leave space for desserts. The descriptions alone are so mouth-watering that once you have spotted one making its way past your table, you will be unable to resist. The chocolate filled
mini banana doughnuts with ice cream and cinnamon sugar (£6.95) sound positively illegal, whilst the hot vanilla rice pudding with roasted rhubarb fool is no less dangerous to those watching their waistlines.
There is also a bar menu featuring sandwiches and jacket potatoes, a set menu available at weekends and roast dinner (£11.95) on Sundays, which is served from 12pm-9pm.
The bar at Shambles caters for all but the most memorable thing is that Prosecco is sold on tap (£3.15 a glass/£13 jug) as proudly stated on the first page of the very serious looking wine list. The wines are displayed neatly along the back bar with prices
clearly marked. In total there are 75 wines, with the vast majority sourced from Italy.
Unusually, the bottled beers outnumber those on tap here with just the gimmickey Guinness Surger or Moretti sold by the pint, and Peroni, Corona, San Miguel, Budvar and Stella in bottles. There are also a handful of cocktails available and these are
best saved for warmer days in the romantic garden.
The Last Word
Shambles is anything but. Instead it delivers high-quality food in attractive surroundings, served up with a welcoming smile and a decent dose of real Italian charm.