When my husband and I heard that TV chef Rick Stein was opening his first London restaurant just up the road from where we live, we knew we had to give it a try. It just so happened that the opening weekend coincided with a visit from my mother- and father-in-law, so we booked in advance for a family lunch: us, the in-laws, and our two young children.
The spacious site - which formerly housed The Depot restaurant for thirty years - is in a lovely riverside location in Barnes. If you're lucky enough to be seated in the conservatory you can enjoy sweeping views of the Thames with your meal.
My main concern, with it being an upmarket restaurant, was whether it'd be child friendly, but I needn't have worried - our two girls were made more than welcome and they even had their own children's menu to choose from:
Linguine in a tomato and basil sauce topped with parmesan cheese (£6.00) Cod served with thin cut chips (£6.75) Chicken with new potatoes and watercress (£6.75) Moules mariniere served with thin cut chips (£6.75)
It's safe to say the linguine went down a treat and the ice cream dessert even more so!
My husband's main concern, with it being a seafood restaurant, was whether he'd be well catered for as a vegetarian. He also needn't have worried, as he too had his own menu, with no less than five vegetarian options which came as a starter for £6.95 or as a main for £10.95:
Gigantes with tomatoes and greens Vegetable Goan curry served with basmati rice Tempura vegetables served with tempura dressing, lime juice and coriander
Ravioli porcini mushrooms with sun-dried tomatoes
Pasta alla norma - linguine served with garlic, chilli, aubergine and tomato
He chose these tempura vegetables as his starter, followed by pasta alla norma:
As it was an early Mother's Day celebration, we treated ourselves to three courses and I thoroughly enjoyed all of my choices. To start with I had crispy mackerel salad for £8.50, which came with green mango, shallots, carrot, peanuts, Thai basil and bird's eye chilli. It had a lovely kick to it!
The menu isn't all fish - other mains options include a rabbit stew (inspired by Rick's travels to Greece apparently), duck confit and bavette steak, so there is hopefully something to suit all tastes. There is even cod and chips with mushy peas and tartare sauce for a more traditional choice. A set lunch menu is available from Monday to Friday with 2 courses for £20.00 or 3 for £25.00.
With it being a newly opened restaurant, our experience wasn't without its teething problems, but certainly nothing that dampened our overall enjoyment. For example, there were several listed white wines that were unavailable, however we eventually found a lovely one to wash our meal down! I found the waiting time for each course slightly on the slow side - I assume the chefs were still getting used to the menu and demand, which is completely understandable (or maybe I'm not used to having such a long leisurely lunch with two children in tow!). Also, we had a bit of an issue with the highchair supplied (it wouldn't strap up) and they were still waiting delivery of more. This was quickly resolved though as a member of staff went and borrowed one from the pub next door!
We all enjoyed our lunch at Rick Stein's (even the in-laws who are notoriously hard to please!) and we'll definitely be returning soon.
To get to Rick Stein, the nearest train station is Barnes Bridge, which is a few minutes walk away; trains from Waterloo stop here. Or bus numbers 209 and 419 stop just outside the restaurant. For more information and to book online visit the website.