When Blai’s mother came to visit us a few weekends ago, she very kindly took us out to dinner at La Trompette one night. While it was a lovely dinner, we thought many of the dishes lacked that extra creative touch as on our first visit; they now seemed to lean more towards the classically French in style. Don’t get me wrong – the food was all excellent (all photos here), and the entire meal itself was lovely, but the main courses in particular just weren’t that exciting. When the bill arrived, there was an extra card on the tray which was a 50% off voucher for a meal at their sister restaurant The Glasshouse in Kew for anytime (except Fridays and Saturdays) in November. Never one to turn down a bargain, I booked a table for last Sunday. Dinner there is priced similarly to La Trompette at £39.50 for three courses or £34.50 for two courses, making comparisons between the two inevitable.

We sat at an intimate table for two in a corner, with a fantastic view of the room. Strangely, one wall had a wavy textured surface, making for dizzying viewing; we averted our eyes. Luckily, the menu was full of interesting options and it took us a while to select our dishes. Blai started with the Quail and ham terrine with salad lyonnaise, crisp quail eggs and celeriac remoulade. I had a little taste of the salad lyonnaise and marvelled at the range of textures in there – croutons, leaves, green beans and bacon. The crisp eggs looked fantastic and even more so when he cut into one and the yolk oozed out. His plate was wiped clean so I think we can safely assume that is was good!

Quail and Ham Terrine

I was in a fishy mood and chose the Grilled mackerel and miso, oyster dressing, shiso leaf and crispy squid, a surprise order from me as I usually avoid fusion dishes in modern European restaurants. However, this was quite pleasant with the grilled mackerel very tasty and sitting on top of an equally delicious remoulade-like salad. The crispy squid was not as I expected but was more like an extravagant spring roll like concoction with a squid filling – I liked it! The sauce, however, was too plentiful for something so strong and salty; I assumed this was the oyster dressing? It was difficult keeping it off the other more delicate parts of the dish. Less sauce please!

Grilled Mackerel and Miso

Blai followed with the Roast gurnard with creamed fennel, saffron potatoes and swiss chard and roasting juices. The fillet of gurnard came with an appetisingly crisp skin and sat on a delicious preparation of creamed fennel. I liked how nothing went to waste with the chard: the stems were cooked separately from the leaf and stacked quite pleasingly on top of the fish. Blai stated that the potatoes were some of the finest he’d had recently.

Roast Gurnard

Again I chose fish with the Steamed plaice with mussel chowder, beurre noisette, spaetzle, chervil and samphire. And again I surprised myself – steamed fish?! This isn’t normal for me! This delicately prepared fish though was paired with a rich and creamy chowder with mussels and spaetzle noodles. I loved the salty samphire cutting through all that creaminess.

Steamed Plaice

I had my eye on the Port roast plums with warm cinnamon beignets and creme fraiche ice cream since the beginning of the meal. The tender plums gave easily to the tines of a fork and the beignets were irresistably light. The creme fraiche ice cream was… not: it was just a quenelle of creme fraiche. What a shame – ice cream would have been lovely here. Still, it was a wonderful dessert.

Port Roast Plums

The most refreshing thing on the menu was the Mango sorbet with citrus fruits, earl grey granita and passion fruit, which was exactly what Blai wanted. Surprisingly, there was a bit of jelly under the sorbet too which added yet another texture to this dessert.

Mango Sorbet with Citrus Fruits

Surprisingly, we both enjoyed this meal more than our recent one at La Trompette; we got the surprises and creativity in our meal that we had expected. If one thing could be improved, it would be the service, which was a little confused and scattered while we were there; still, nothing affected our lovely date night. With the 50% off voucher, dinner became about £50 for the two of us but this was a meal where we would have been happy to pay full price (not for everyday, of course, but for the occasional meal).

If cheese is more your thing than dessert, do check out Chris’ post on the restaurant from his recent visit too.

The Glasshouse
14 Station Parade
Kew TW9 3PZ

Glasshouse on Urbanspoon

If I’ve seemed distracted from my food blog, it’s because I am. There’s craziness at work (taking up most of my time), two big upcoming events with which to deal, a couple of birthdays and most distracting of all – a new bicycle! There’s also the matter of saving some money which is why I’ve not visited the restaurants on my very long list of places to eat. But really, it’s mostly that bicycle on weekends (a retro folder if you’re interested!). I’ve been perusing more cycle chic than food blogs lately – don’t worry, my heart is still with my food!

For the past few weekends, we’ve taken to our bikes, cycling about and discovering our area – quiet places where public transport won’t take us and far enough that walking won’t get us there. We’ve explored Chiswick and the neighbourhoods around Shepherd’s Bush and last weekend, we cycled down to Kew and along the river. Of course, all that cycling does build up a hearty appetite.

Piazza Seating

We parked our bikes near Kew Station and had a little wander before we settled down at an outdoor table at the Kew Greenhouse Cafe. If you’ve ever visited Kew Gardens via the tube/train station, you’ll know the place – it’s sitting at the corner and you’ll pass it on your way to the botanical gardens. Assuming you visited on a nice day, it’s the place with lovely terrace seating outside. So, we grabbed our table and then I went inside to order. Perusing the display cases inside caused me to change my order a few times!

Iced Lemon Tea

There was a bit of a wait for everything but they’d warned us this would be the case since they were very busy (as I’m sure most cafes with outdoor seating must be when the weather is fine). After about 10 minutes, our drinks arrive – an iced lemon tea (strangely made with cinnamon – I didn’t like it but Blai did) and just some sparkling water. My slice of cake also arrived – a lemon florentine cake, a lemon cake topped with nuts and candied fruit, just like on top of Florentines. We started nibbling on this gorgeous sticky slice while waiting for the rest of our food.

Lemon Florentine Cake

It all came another 10-15 minutes later. To “balance” my slice of cake, I ordered something “light” – a cheese and chive croissant served with salad. It wasn’t particularly light. The croissant was stuffed full of a cheese mixture that was heated before serving. When cut, a molten cheesey lava flowed from the centre. This and the cake would have been the perfect sized lunch for just me (assuming that I was trying not to be too gluttonous – I mean, I really could have fit in another slice of cake). However, since I was with Blai, we split our meals.

Croissant with Cheese and Chives

Blai’s huge slice of steak and Guiness pie was served with a variety of vegetables, both boiled and salady. The meaty filling was quite good and tasted homemade – shame about the use of frozen carrots in there though. It was a very generous serving, however, and filled us up well. We had to do a lot of cycling to burn it off!

Beef and Guinness Pie with Salad

Our meals cost £20 total, including the drinks. For a lovely, relaxed homemade meal out on an airy terrace for an unlimited amount of time, I reckon that’s a bargain! I liked the atmosphere of the place too – it’s a good mixture of both locals and tourists, all enjoying their very British fare.

Kew Greenhouse Cafe
1 Station Parade
Kew, Surrey
TW9 3PS

Kew Greenhouse Cafe on Urbanspoon