After pretty much lounging around the house since Christmas, I was feeling the need to get out, so I took a trip to Kingston. Once I had completed a few little errands I went to John Lewis for lunch. As well as an Espresso Bar, John Lewis has a restaurant called 'The Place To Eat'. I usually go to the bar, but thought I'd see what was on offer at this place. It has a wider selection of food to choose from, serving hot meals as well as cold sandwiches and pastries.
It over looks the River Thames, so on a bright sunny day is a lovely place to sit. As it happens, this is the middle of winter, so the view was overcast and gloomy. But since I don't like hot weather, as long as it wasn't grey clouds were fine by me. There is something quite soothing about watching the river slowly flow on by.
There were a selection of baguettes, salads, and quiches at the cold table, as well as a tapas dish serving olives, flatbread and hummus. These ranged from £4.25 to £6.95. At the hot table you could buy sausage & mash, or a yummy looking lasagne for £7.95, while for an extra pound, you could enjoy fish & chips. If you are there with the kids then their hot menu is pretty similar, just in smaller portions.
I wasn't hungry enough for a full meal so went for a crayfish baguette with rocket. It came with a dill & lemon yoghurt dressing, which made a nice change from your traditional rose marie sauce. The mayonnaise based topping is nice, but can be quite rich, whereas this was very light. What I liked about the baguette was also how soft and light the bread was. I am often wary of baguettes because all too often the bread is far too hard, and there is more of that than there is filling. But just to prove how soft this baguette was, I could easily cut through it with a knife (Yes, I know, I'm weird, I deconstruct my sandwiches). My one nag about the baguette was the price. For £5.95 you don't get much. Perhaps if it was accompanied by a side of salad (even though I don't like salad), it could be justified, but not just for a filled short length of bread.
If you are looking for something sweeter, sugar & lemon crepes are made to order, and since the equipment is out on display, you can watch as they prepare them for you. Opposite the hot table is the patisserie bar, where you will find a selection of cakes and scones. Their cherry glazed muffins looked very tempting, but in the end I was taken in by their Christmassy themed orange & cranberry cake for £2.75. When I asked for a slice, the waitress behind the bar pointedly told me that it was a self-service restaurant. Self-service is fine, but her rather abrupt manner put me off somewhat. I found it particularly annoying considering there were no available plates (freshly washed ones had to be brought through from the kitchen) and the tongs were on her side of the bar.
The restaurant was pretty busy, and although the waiters were constantly clearing the tables, a lot were still cluttered or unwiped, so finding a place to sit wasn't easy. I did eventually manage to find a table by the window, which was good, not only because of the view, but because the tables on the other side have low hanging ceiling lamps which glare in your eyes.
Unfortunately I was left disappointed with my selection as it had a very cakey texture. I know that sounds silly considering it was a cake, but you get what I mean. It felt heavy and stodgy rather than light and fluffy. It was also very bitter in taste. Now I'm one usually to commend the use of less sugar, but in this case, it seriously needed something to sweeten it. The problem is that the orange in the cake was actually zest and rind, and when combined with the tart cranberries, there was nothing to take the edge off.
Overall, it is a nice enough restaurant, but it is certainly not my 'place to eat'. I much prefer their Espresso Bar, even if there is less on offer.