The Glasshouse – Review

The Glasshouse                                    Kew


 

14 Station Parade  Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3PZ

020 8940 6777/www.glasshouserestaurant.co.uk/
The Glasshouse

The Glasshouse

I have spent most of my life living in Kew. It has never been a particularly exciting place, more a sleepy Surrey village seasonally invaded by hordes of tourists coming to visit Kew Gardens. In the 1970s it was Americans wearing plaid suits so violent and disruptive to the warp and weft of the community’s fabric that the ancient spinsters who seemed to make up most of the population of Kew Village would never come out in the hours of daylight for fear of dying at the sheer horror of being exposed to too much bad taste. Like a junkie hooker I used to stand by the station in my school cap accepting tips from the alien invaders to help feed my ice-cream habit-photo opportunities with a cute boy in uniform or  directions to the Gardens anyone? You know you want to…

Come Mrs Thatcher’s deregulation of the financial markets in the 1980s the spinsters were dying off and in moved the bankers and corporate lawyers. However despite the influx of dirty money it wasn’t until 1999 that Kew got a really good restaurant when Nigel Platts-Martin and chef Bruce Poole, who had created the iconic Chez Bruce in Wandsworth and subsequently La Trompette in Chiswick, opened The Glasshouse.

I went quite a lot in its opening few years, anxious to support the joint as it took the notoriously conservative and faintly suspicious Kew diners a little while to catch on. But then new temptations came into my orbit. Soho’s rebirth and gastro-deconstructions in locations as diverse as Bray, Copenhagen and Roses all sang their siren songs and I am easily tempted…

So now Im unexpectedly back with a group of childhood friends. Between us we reckoned at having worked at nearly every shop in Kew’s Station Parade; but gone are the hardware shop, Express Dairy, Post Office and greengrocer to be replaced by the prize winning health food shop, the chichi gift emporium and the kid’s boutique. Have things improved? Probably if you can afford it…

The interior is a symphony in beige, calm on the eye, and staffed by charming if slightly over eager Iberians. The room is very comfortable with the chairs being as well stuffed as the clientele. The menu is £42.50 for three courses with a generous seven options at each stage. It reads very attractively-modern European bourgeois comfort food with a few eastern touches for good measure.
Deep fried soft shell crab

Deep fried soft shell crab

To start with the doctor, the music biz guy and I went for the Deep fried soft shell crab with guacamole, shiso (a green leafed Japanese plant) and radish salad , yuzu dressing (£2.50 supplement). This dish wasn’t straightforward. The guacamole and salad were genuinely terrific with the yuzu dressing giving a subtly sour note to the dressing. The problem was the crab or more specifically the batter which was too rich and heavy. Soft shell crab is so delicately flavoured that it can easily be overwhelmed and here it was. One segment was batter only with no crab in it. This was more fish supper than tempura style and not Michelin star level. The doctor had sampled the dish before and the batter had been better so maybe there was someone new on the fryer…
Sea Trout Gravlax with Parsnip Remoulade Micro Cress Salad Cream Cheese Cigar and Apple Caviar.

Sea Trout Gravlax with Parsnip Remoulade, Micro Cress Salad, Cream Cheese Cigar and Apple Caviar.

Sea trout Gravlax with Parsnip Remoulade, Micro Cress Salad, Cream Cheese Cigar and Apple Caviar. The business man went for this- he said ‘it tasted as it should’. I don’t know what he meant either but I guess that he liked it as he demolished it before I could ask for a taste. It certainly looked good.

Pork Fillet with Braised Cheeks, Boudin Blanc, Fennel Choucroute, Creamed Potato and Mustard Jus

Pork Fillet with Braised Cheeks, Boudin Blanc, Fennel Choucroute, Creamed Potato and Mustard Jus

Pork Fillet with Braised Cheeks, Boudin Blanc, Fennel Choucroute, Creamed Potato and Mustard Jus was a high-concept Alsatian influenced dish described as being succulent, smooth and tender by the Music Biz guy. I’m giving The Glasshouse first prize in the longest dish description section of the Gastrolympics. If this was St. John it would just have been Pork Fillet…however I must admit to feeling strangely aroused by the Fennel Choucroute.
Fillet of Beef with Baby Onion, Escargot and Harissa Ragout, Spiced Hollandaise and Duck Fat Fried Chips

Fillet of Beef with Baby Onion, Escargot and Harissa Ragout, Spiced Hollandaise and Duck Fat Fried Chips

Fillet of Beef with Baby Onion, Escargot and Harissa Ragout, Spiced Hollandaise and Duck Fat Fried Chips (the chips came separately) was chosen by the Doctor who reported that the beef was perfectly cooked and an excellent piece of meat and the sauce sumptuous. Will Duck Fat Fried Chips become the next health fad? Probably not…
Fillet of Seabass with Wild Garlic Velouté, Gnocchi and Pied de Mouton Mushrooms

Fillet of Seabass with Wild Garlic Velouté, Gnocchi and Pied de Mouton Mushrooms

Fillet of Seabass with Wild Garlic Velouté, Gnocchi and Pied de Mouton Mushrooms was notable for the delicious mushrooms and of course the Wild Garlic Velouté, so du jour en ce moment (enough French already..)
Loin of Cornish Cod with White Miso, Soy and Coriander dressing, Bok Choy and Oyster Beignet.

Loin of Cornish Cod with White Miso, Soy and Coriander dressing, Bok Choy and Oyster Beignet.

Loin of Cornish Cod with White Miso, Soy and Coriander dressing, Bok Choy and Oyster Beignet was again showing a harmonious eastern influence and the radish gave a pleasing crunch to the proceedings. Everything on the plate tasted really good but for me the fish was a touch overdone but then I like it a touch underdone…you can’t please all the people all the time…
Calvados and Caramel Doughnuts with Green Apple Puree and Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

Calvados and Caramel Doughnuts with Green Apple Puree and Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

Calvados and Caramel Doughnuts with Green Apple Puree and Creme Fraiche Ice Cream was an exercise in over-indulgence if ever I saw one but then I chose it-but for me the doughnuts were too sugary, the apple not tart enough and there wasn’t enough caramel.
Valrhona Chocolate Jaffa Tube with Chocolate Brownie and Burnt Orange Ice Cream

Valrhona Chocolate Jaffa Tube with Chocolate Brownie and Burnt Orange Ice Cream

Valrhona Chocolate Jaffa Tube with Chocolate Brownie and Burnt Orange Ice Cream was a triumph with the classic combo of bitter orange and chocolate getting the gong for best dessert. Those classic 1960s and 70s sweets and biscuits seem to be a big influence at the moment.
The Glasshouse is an excellent restaurant delivering at a high level to its core clientele, the well-heeled bourgeois of West London. For me the service is too unctuous and sometimes there is too much business going on on the plate – at the moment I’m into small plate eating and gutsy simplicity-and also  too much going into the fryer-these people just don’t need it!

Glasshouse on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

4.5 / 5 stars     

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