Top Marx! Bingham Riverhouse’s Chef

Top Marx! Bingham Riverhouse’s Chef

Top Marx! Bingham Riverhouse’s Chef – Vanessa Marx has been at Bingham Riverhouse for a couple of years, running the kitchen for the events side of the business.  I knew first-hand how good she is, as our daughter was married there last year and everyone raved about the food.  South African born Marx has, very sensibly, been handed the whole of this lovely local hotel’s catering by owner Samantha Trinder, and she’s certainly making her mark.  She had some big shoes to fill after Steven Edwards left, but they’ve been stepped into very well indeed.

Her culinary journey from Port Elizabeth via Cape Town  reached great heights: co-founding Dear Me Food World, a three-level culinary haven, she went on to earn the Eat Out Rising Star Award, propelling her career into television appearances and guest judging on Celebrity MasterChef South Africa. She also successfully launched her own catering and events business before relocating to London.  Vanessa is passionate about the healing power of food and its fundamental role in wellness and sustainability:  and this shines through in the menu she’s created.  She’s into zero waste and wild and foraged ingredients, with The Riverhouse Restaurant dishes featuring the most consciously sourced produce and ingredients, foraged in harmony with the seasons and local environments. Marx promotes a zero-waste ethos, and the menu highlights wild and foraged ingredients, as well as some of their very own garden-grown botanicals. Innovative low-waste ingredients include coffee-grown oyster mushrooms, cultivated in their urban Rooftop Farm in Wimbledon, using waste ground coffee from the hotel.

The other interesting thing for me, was that two of the dishes I chose are, in fact, vegan, but it was only later that I noticed this.

Top Marx! Bingham Riverhouse’s Chef

The menu is divided into sections: Nibbles; Small Plates; Large Plates; Extra Bits and Sweet.  The pricing is fair and compares well with many top gastro pubs, but the whole set up at Bingham Riverhouse is far, far superior.

I very much enjoyed the gentle kick of spice in my Jalapeno Negroni (Mezcal, Cocchi red vermouth, jalapeño infused Campari) while my husband had a Lucky Saint alco free lager.  We also were persuaded to accompany our drinks with Lamb Bobotie Spring Rolls, served with apple cider chutney – a nice nod to Marx’s heritage.  These were piping hot, crispy tubes packed with delicate curried meat and fruit and they set the scene for a highly memorable meal.

To start, I had Caramelised Celeriac, with coconut raita, spiced coconut butter, and roasted pumpkin seeds.  This was beautifully presented, absolutely delicious, and I would urge any vegan diner to make a beeline for it.  The coconut yogurt complemented the celeriac perfectly, and the pumpkin seeds added texture and flavour.  My husband had the  Confit duck salad, maple glazed quince, walnut, radicchio – and declared it excellent.  The contrast of textures with the quince and the walnuts added interest and It would also make a great light lunch dish.

Top Marx! Bingham Riverhouse’s Chef

It was a cold and wet evening, and before I had a chance to say I fancied the Wild Boar ‘bourgignon’, pancetta and mushroom barley risotto, it was announced by my husband to be his choice of main course.  Of course we can’t have the same dishes when reviewing, so I chose the Brixham Fish market catch – which happened to be Sea Bream – served with lemon beurre blanc and samphire.

Actually, I was so pleased I did choose this:  it was again served piping hot, with crispy skin seasoned to perfection.  I don’t normally like fish skin, but this was so good I found myself eating it all, and really enjoying it.  We shared a portion of sweet potato fries and buttered winter greens.  The greens were another triumph: al dente, sugar snap peas, variegated kale and lots of butter.  It clearly demonstrates the skill of a great chef to make a side dish such a hero component.

My husband’s wild boar looked great and was in a delicious, rich, but not thick, sauce.  The risotto was a different and very tasty accompaniment.  The whole dish was very cleverly composed and executed.

Top Marx! Bingham Riverhouse’s Chef

I’m not normally much of a dessert fan, but reader, the ones we tried at Bingham Riverhouse were seriously good.   Kentish cobnut & olive oil cake, grapefruit, olive meringue was a triumph – some sweetness from the coconut and meringue, beautifully balanced with the citrus notes from the grapefruit.

The other dessert we shared was Cacao torte, reishi mushroom, cranberry sorbet, maca date caramel. Well, what can I say? It wasn’t sweet, but it was rich and deeply chocolatey with the tartness of the sorbet giving a fabulous contrast and offsetting the richness.  It was chocoholic heaven for anyone, like me, who loves dark, quality chocolate.  It was superb, and again, I was surprised to discover that it was vegan.

Rooibos tea jellies accompanied our coffee – another clever South African touch. They weren’t too sweet, just delicately fruity and amazingly good.

We’re very lucky to have such a fabulous restaurant in Richmond – one with views of the river, charming decor and top notch food.  The relaxed, almost laid-back, vibe is a refreshing change of gear and one being much appreciated by the other diners.  A family at the next table was dining there with a very well behaved newborn and his grandparents. They were so impressed that immediately they reserved a table to come back the following night.  And we’re already planning our next visit.

The Seasoned Gastronome

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