The Watermill Restaurant and Grill is situated within the Merton Abbey Mills. It’s famed for its Sunday carvery but offers the midweek and Saturday diner an array of British and modern European meals. Open since 2009, it's run by a local couple who have been looking after the adjacent Commonwealth Cafe for the past nine years.
The Watermill is a warm and cosy meat based outpost located a ten-minute walk from Colliers Wood tube station or Wimbledon rail. It sits on a large shopping centre close to a small inlet of the river and seems like the ideal spot for families and groups wanting a reasonably priced night out somewhere cosy. The restaurant is split into two sections - a casual café style area out the back (closest to the river) and a separate dining area to the side for dinner reservations and people coming in off the street for a drink. The space is an unusual one, in that it doesn't feel like a restaurant or a pub, which is no bad thing, and the exposed brickwork décor gives it a slightly modern ‘warehouse’ feel - which should keep the trendies happy. The carvery, which is available from 12.30 on Sundays, is positioned just at the entrance – for the entirely sensible reason that it's the venue's real draw.
The service is really friendly, with the small numbers of waiting staff doing well to check in frequently and serve up some prompt service. A dining room replete with anything from lone diners and couples to rowdy locals celebrating birthdays are all handled with smiling aplomb.
The menu at the Watermill is meaty and simple, and perfectly suited for those seeking a casual dinner from a local eatery. Steak plays a central role in the offering and there are a number of good quality cuts available on a menu that has ‘comfort food’ written all over it.
The deliciously retro prawn and smoked salmon cocktail starter comes served on crisp lettuce leaves with tomato and cucumber dressed with Marie Rose sauce. It's pleasantly fresh with plenty of juicy prawns and slices of smoked salmon, all dressed in a delicate and light Marie Rose sauce. The accompanying bread, though, is a little past its best and slightly disappointing. The chicken with tomato sauce and cheese comes with a choice of new potatoes or chips. The chicken breast is a large portion with a thick, tangy tomato sauce and the chips are freshly cooked and seasoned. Many diners will visit purely for the steaks (matured for an admirable 21 days, minimum). They're cooked impeccably and served with grilled tomatoes and flat mushrooms. The 8-10 oz. sirloin is big and beefy, and when you factor in the fries you might find yourself struggling to fit in dessert.
But make sure you do, as the apple and raspberry crumble is a winner. Chunky pieces of green apple accompanied by large succulent raspberries and a hint of cinnamon make a great combination, and the sprinkling of crumble on top is just right – not too heavy but enough to give a good balance between the sweet and savoury. It comes piping hot, so it's just as well that it comes accompanied by a healthy portion of ice cream to temper the heat.
The wine menu is basic but covers the main bases. The Chilean Sauvignon Blanc with a zesty aroma and subtle citrus notes does the job and at £19 is reasonably priced. Other options on the drinks menu include beer and spirits.
The Last Word
On busy nights the Watermill Restaurant and Grill feels vibrant and atmospheric. If you’re a local it’s certainly worth the visit.