The thing you can’t fail to notice when you arrive at Jackson & Rye in Richmond is how perfect the location is at first glance.
You’ve got the river Thames literally a stones throw in front of you, you’ve got banks of benches arranged around well-kept grass and paths, you’ve got a view of the bridge and the boats - really what more could you want?
Well, when you’re hoping to run a successful restaurant which has customers beating a path to your door; the answer is - you need people to know you are there!
Idyllic the locale may be, but as any regular visitor to Richmond knows the riverside only tends to be busy on warm sunny days - whereas the main high street and shops remain busy even on wet and wintry days.
Whether the fact you can’t see the restaurant from this part of town proves to have any negative impact on footfall to the new kid on the block remains to be seen.
I hope not because for those who do venture round and find themselves taking a seat inside, there are many positives awaiting you.
The decor is bright and roomy, with tables and booths arranged in a style which evokes a 60s Motown feel with an old-fashioned bar and stools, checkerboard flooring and revolving ceiling fans.
The staff, many of whom I noted were American - again a nice touch given the menu and theme - were friendly without being too ‘Have a nice day’ and in the case of our waiter made recommendations which turned out to be well worth while following.
It is worth bearing in mind that our visit took place on a Sunday when the menu is firmly tilted toward brunch which is served until 4.30pm when the usual dinner one takes over.
Americans always seem to do brunch better than the British as the extensive array of pancake and egg-based dishes will attest.
We began with cocktails (as you do!) and while the traditional Bloody Mary was highly tempting I plumped instead for the pick-me-up provided by the Black n Rye - basically a liquor coffee made with the rye whisky for which the restaurant takes part of its name.
My friend chose the Old Fashioned made of Woodford Reserve given extra spice with the addition of bitters and then lifted with sugar.
With a good drink inside us the task of choosing what to eat as a starter was made immeasurably easier; although in truth my mind was more or less made up the minute I saw they had roasted sea scallops (£8.75).
A generous portion was served on chopped garden peas, with a chilli cream sauce muddled with Old Bay seasoning and yet more welcome greenery in the form of baby shoots.
No-one knows their way round a pumpkin quite like the Americans do and the Market Soup (£4.95) my friend chose was nicely balanced with truffles and Parmesan cheese.
There was mild disappointment when the main course special I ordered which was meant to be pork fillet had to be replaced with pork chop as the kitchen had run out of the former.
However, I perked up when I realised it was served on the bone and actually resembled a map of Cyprus! It was served with a potato rostie with caramalised apple and went nicely with the side dish of green beans and roasted pecans.
The grilled yellow fin tuna steak with fries and roasted vine tomatoes (£17.95) my friend selected was well cooked, satisfying and filling but as he said ‘nothing amazing’.
It was dessert where all the magic was reserved for - and once again we were indebted to our waiter for recommending what must be two of the best dishes on the menu.
Toasting marshmallows (£6.75) is another primarily American pursuit but oh boy did it work in this case. Especially when served with bitter chocolate sauce and a blood orange sorbet which really needs to be tasted to fully appreciate how good it is.
The same went for the Melting Chocolate Sundae (£6.95) which my friend enthused over every spoonful of. It came with a butterscotch sauce which when poured over the chocolate shell caused it to dissolve to reveal the ice cream and brownies beneath.
There was still time to be dazzled with the spectacle of the hand drip coffee process before we were stepping back out onto the riverside just as the sun set.
Meanwhile over at the Chiswick branch on Chiswick High Road, there’s an offer running from now until December 18 which promises a free bottle of Ugni Blanc, Colombard 2013 (white) or the Tempranillo Merlot 2013 (red) wine when two people dine in the restaurant on Monday-Thursday only.
- One bottle of wine per table per visit
- Cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotion or set menu
- Minimum 2 people 18 years and over all ordering main courses
- Simply say "Get West London offer" when dining to receive the offer
Venue: Jackson & Rye, 1 Heron Square, Richmond, TW9 1EJ
Tel: 020 8948 6951
Details of meal: Stylish interior, great outlook, large variety of food for all times of day
Service: Friendly and knowledgeable with excellent recommendation skills
Value: Some dishes cost more than you might prefer to pay, but the drinks and quicker bite options are very reasonable