The new menu at The Wharf is a culmination of ten years in the business and a genuine attempt to adhere to customer feedback. Has proprietor and chef Ray Neve managed to create the opportunity to experience good food at affordable prices with this new menu?
The restaurant is nestled on the banks of the river Thames at Teddington Lock. The backdrop of the old converted boat house is urban and residential but the space of the venue uniquely opens up on to the river allowing a picturesque view and a feeling of being far away from the hustle and bustle. Inside, the light airy feel of the restaurant adds to the tranquility of the setting. It's a modern space with a large open bar and a gallery area that works as a second floor of restaurant space. Works of art from established artists and emerging talents adorn the walls all around. The wooden floors then lead up into the primary restaurant area. Breathtaking views and quirkily dressed tables give a minimalist contemporary feel, with white tablecloths topped with baking parchment, globe lights and coloured chairs adding modernity to this meantime setting.
The staff are excellent and friendly, attentive without being overbearing, and have a thorough knowledge of the menu they are serving, including any specials. There is a real mix of clientele with tables of couples having a relaxed meal as well as groups of people celebrating birthdays, and some just enjoying the view of the canoeists on the river. This produces an ambient buzz that runs throughout the venue.
There are indications of the quality of the ingredients at play with reference to thirty-five day aged Hereford beef, and the use of seasonal fish from sustainable sources, all of which leaves you impatient for the treats that may soon arrive.
Starters start at £4, rising to £14 when sharing certain items. Dungeness crab cakes come with a small leaf salad and a creamy yet spicy tomato dipping sauce. The cake is perfectly crisp on the outside whilst the meat retains its moisture and kick of spice on the inside. The hint of zesty lemon and coriander complement and don’t overpower the delicate flavour of the meat. Seared sea scallops and minted pea purée with crispy pancetta is a subtle, smooth and delicate combination. The contrasting texture of the crispy pancetta and against the soft scallops and velvety puree is a delight. Both dishes are also simply and neatly presented.
Mains, grills and specials range from £12 up to £25 for the lobster, with side dishes from £2.75 to £3.50. A 250g sirloin steak comes accompanied by chips, roasted vine tomatoes and choice of sauce, with peppercorn recommended. The cut of meat is indeed of excellent quality - - impressively moist and robust - but it is, however, slightly overcooked for medium rare and the charring from the grill takes away from the real taste of the meat itself. However, the chips are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and the peppercorn sauce is has good consistency, with a slight zing from the red peppercorns. Whole roasted flounder with capers, new potatoes and green beans is cooked to perfection. A delicate crisp on the outside, with the meat a buttery softness against the saltiness of the capers, feels very seasonal, matching the hint of spring in the air. The potatoes are cooked well and the green beans bright and crunchy.
Desserts are all £6. The caramelised lemon tart is beautifully presented, zesty and vibrant, offering buttery, crumbly pastry with a cool, sharp lemon curd in the middle. The crème brulee is not quite caramelised enough on the top to give that satisfying crack as the spoon delves into the vanilla cream below but it offers an excellent balance of flavour beneath.
The staff can be relied upon to make excellent recommendations for wine throughout the meal, with a pleasing variety of wines available by the glass. An aperitif of Prosecco Borgo del col Alto (Italy) is the perfect start - dry with a hint of sweetness and a very delicate bubble of background fizz. The Crossing, Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon 2010 complements the flounder with more zesty flavours. Mamre Brook, Barossa Valley Australian Shiraz 2009 is deep and full of rich cherry flavours to accompany the aged meat. The red Muscadel, Robertson South Africa 2010 dessert wine is an absolute joy, with the rolling flavours of lycee, raspberry and subtle orange offering a perfect finishing touch to the meal.
The Last Word
Yes, great food at affordable prices has really been achieved at The Wharf. From the food and wine to the setting, the staff and the atmosphere, the dining experience is spot on - you can easily see why it is a favourite neighbourhood dining spot.