In recent weeks all eyes have been on old Queenie Elizabeth’s jubilant celebrations. With all that now done and dusted, her majesty is deserving of a break from the limelight so I headed down to sunny, shiny Sheen for dinner at the Victoria; a name also familiar with ruling for 60 odd years.
For those of you who don’t know, Sheen isn’t just the surname of a crazy Charlie who likes ‘winning’. No, Sheen, neighbouring the picturesque Richmond Park, has a family friendly, village feel to it despite being only 20 minutes from Waterloo. On a Friday evening after a long week enduring city life it was a treat to retreat to a place with an air of tranquillity largely foreign to the rest of London.
On arriving, this gastro pub was lively, the way you picture a local out in the country should be, with the local community all congregated in one place to celebrate the start of the weekend. And I’m not surprised the Victoria is said focal point as it is a lovely looking, old Victorian building with a spectacular conservatory dining area to boost about. Its shabby chic decor combines with the oak wooden floorboards to add real countrified character. Fortunate to go in its prime (shock horror the sun was out), it provides a rather romantic candlelit scenario for dinner. Alas I was with my mother, but it’s suitable for families as much as it is for more intimate occasions.
Head chef Paul Merrett’s menu is full of pondering choices. I went for the warm salad of duck confit, Morris Gold black pudding, fried potato and a soft boiled hen’s egg to start and was rather thrilled with my findings. Aside from being littered with raw red onion, the juxtaposition of the warm and weighty with the fresh and cooling equated to a top dish. The portion was enough to not be left wanting too. My mother devoured some pretty looking scallops served with an earthy cauliflower puree and chunky chorizo. No complaints there either.
For main, accompanied by a rich and fragrant glass of Andeluna Merlot 2007, the slow roasted breast of lamb, crispy artichoke, capers, tomato, anchovies and potato was by far the stand out dish. The lamb, sat king-like on a throne, was super succulent and melted in my mouth. Not often the case, the anchovies didn’t overpower, and artichoke marvelled in all its crispiness. Lovely. The (purposefully?) messy looking Burrida with tomato, king prawns, bream and razor clams, fried ciabatta and rouille was not as well received across the table – the sauce was slightly sloppy – but the prawns were cooked to an inch of excellence.
With two self-confessed chocoholics sat at the table, for dessert it was difficult to see past the chocolate nut brownie with peanut butter ice cream and chocolate sauce and warm chocolate pudding with chocolate fudge ice cream. Indeed, we didn’t see past them. It was the latter that ironically took the brownie, purely down to its rich texture and bolder favours, with the former rather lost on the palette.
All in all, a thoroughly pleasant evening well worth the trip out of town for. We were served by a joyous Australian lady, full of insight about the menu, a real pleasure to talk to who drew many similarities to the Victoria itself; friendly, particular and a world away from London. Word of warning: book in advance to avoid disappointment.
10 West Temple Sheen
Tel: 020 8876 4238