Oysters in East London… A foreign concept? Indeed it is, as The Richmond in Hackney can boast that they are the first and only ones to bring a raw seafood bar to East London. But this is not the only special thing about this lovely place. Founded by Australian chef and restauranteur Brett Redman and Texan fashion connoisseur Margaret Crow, The Richmond is a warm, welcoming neighbourhood spot with a convivial yet contemporary feel.
Completely unassuming from the outside and surrounded by, well, not much, you unexpectedly enter into a space that resembles a French bistro – with russet-hued walls, dark wood tables and a marble-topped bar at the far end. In the daytime, light streams through the large windows and the tables are so close and cosy that its perfectly acceptable to admire your neighbouring table’s dish choices.
Service at The Richmond is not only impeccable, it is informative. Both bearded and young, a tattooed waiter and the Assistant Manager, Freddie, were on hand and attentive. Every aspect of the menu will be described to you in detail, whilst foodie facts are light-heartedly thrown in to add another dimension to the dining experience. Freddie explained, with no judgement at lack of knowledge, that heritage carrots in fact come in all different colours – not just orange, and enthusiastically laid out the proper way to consume oysters.
‘The Bloody Mary’s are great, but we can make pretty much anything you want’ is a pretty fantastic thing to hear when you really feel like having an espresso martini. The cocktail menu is extensive, and the wine list is handpicked by Isabelle Legeron. Ask for advice with wine pairings with your main course, but be sure to start off with one of their wonderfully executed cocktails.
Showcasing fresh ingredients, the menu at The Richmond is ever-changing – which could explain the paper menus! Naturally, the one constant is the oysters. Oysters are like marmite – either you love them or you hate them. If you love them or you’ve never tried one, order some at The Richmond. They arrive majestically, spread out on a silver tray of ice with a side of lemon slices and tabasco, shallot vinaigrette and coriander to dribble on top. A luscious, creamy shot of fresh sea, we recommend opting for the Lindisfarne oysters from Northumberland.
To give you an idea of the kind of dishes served at The Richmond, the new weekend lunch menu consists of spit roast poussin with pumpkin, pancetta, sage stuffing and masala gravy, a smoked haddock and prawn fish pie with a soft boiled egg hidden in its centre and lamb shoulder with fennel, courgette and olive gratin. The Richmond does red meat remarkably well and if you’re lucky, a full roast will be on the menu – it comes with a voluptuous Yorkshire pudding and a old-school gravy boat.
Aside from the oysters, dessert is a high point at The Richmond. We recommend the clementines, vanilla mousseline, sweet pastry dessert – it is basically sweet, juicy clementines topped with light and fluffy vanilla mousse, further topped with blow-torched pastry that resembles the hard caramel that sits atop a crème brûlée. If you’re a fan of rich chocolate, opt for the white chocolate mousse, passion fruit & bitter chocolate ganache. The dynamic mix of flavours will have you ‘mmm’-ing real quick.
As mentioned, The Richmond isn’t much from the outside. But the aphorism ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ stands strong and unbroken. The service, the oysters, the wonderfully cooked red meat and the dessert are all worth trekking to Hackney for (wherever you’re from in London, there will probably be a bit of trekking involved.) Oysters at The Richmond are rid of pretentious associations – they are affordable, yummy, and add a great twist to East London’s restaurant scene.