If you live in SW London, sack off the tube and make the effort to walk to Richmond when you go to Muriel’s Kitchen. Proper sunshine is about as common as rocking horse poo in these parts, so don’t waste a moment of it sweating on the tube.
Richmond is eye-wateringly picturesque – green, grassy and peppered with wild deer – and Muriel’s Kitchen, with its chintz chairs and quirky curiosities adorning the walls, fits right in. The restaurant itself is homage to the owner’s own nan, Muriel, so every surface and corner is filled with vintage knick-knacks and other grandmotherly bric-a-brac. It really feels like you’ve entered someone’s home.
The menu too reflects our grandparents’ no-nonsense approach to simple, British cooking. It’s honest, hearty food without any bells and whistles, so if you’re the type that likes their food served in a velvet slipper or 1/100 scale model of Westminster Abbey, then it probably isn’t for you.
The Soup of the Day (£6.50) was a semi-smooth tomato and herb, vivid vermilion with a slick of olive oil. Scorching hot weather does nothing to dampen my lust for soup, though Kat chose the far more summery Fish Goujons with Lemon Mayo (£6.95).
I know sides with a starter isn’t ladylike, but whatever; these sweet potato fries are up there with the best. (I appreciate good ones because I have some sort of culinary blind spot when it comes to making them myself – they’re always burnt or soggy. It’s a constant source of embarrassment.)
Next, I had the Feta, Spinach & Squash Quiche with a Quinoa, Roasted Pepper & Green Bean Salad (£9.50 for both). Now, I know what you’re thinking, the vegetarian got lumbered with only one option, and it was a quiche. Always the quiche. BUT, actually, they had several options for the unwittingly awkward. In fact, the seasonal salads sounded so good I greedily had one of those too. Fine, fine. I confess, I had two main courses, okay!? It really was a very long walk.
The quinoa salad comes with the quiche as a main, but can also be ordered as a standalone meal (£4.95), which would probably do it for a lighter dinner. The green beans were crunchy and the peppers soft and sweet. I also begrudgingly shared the Greek Salad (also £4.95) with Kat.
Back to the quiche for a sec. My god, the quiche. Perhaps they clocked my exhaustion or maybe they were just alarmed at my sides with starters and double-mains order, but I was presented with a whale of a quiche. Like Moby Dick reincarnated in quiche form. It practically ate me. Like all grandmothers around the world, Muriel’s a bit of a feeder. This thing was the size of my head and was so creamy and silky that Kat suffered some serious dinner envy when I finally allowed to her to get her gob around it.
Kat’s Signature Chicken & Peach Curry (£14.50) scored points for originality. I’m not shy when it comes to whipping up a curry at home, but I’ve never heard of peach as an ingredient. Kat reported that it was tasty and comforting, but a little on the sweet side for her, like a korma on steroids. It wasn’t to Kat’s immediate taste but I love me a sweet, rich curry sauce, so I’ll definitely be incorporating some peach into my next home-kitchen trip to India. Stay tuned.
We were washing all this down with a bucket-load of gossip on-tap wine. Now, bear with me. I know that wine from taps does not sound glamorous and, yes, fine, I’m not the most ladylike when it comes to food (you should see me at a buffet), but it is definitely becoming A Thing in London. It may not be the thing to wow a date with in those first heady days of unsustainable peacocking, but unless you are truly a wine connoisseur, it makes total sense. There’s less packaging, so it’s cheaper and better for the environment (karma points!), and it tastes, in my considered opinion, EXACTLY like bottled stuff. It also means you can taste a few different wines before you order a whole glass. Like beer, or gelato.
I was now bloody full, but it wouldn’t be a trip to Grandma’s house without pudding. I’d spied some impressive desserts coming out of the kitchen and, like my quiche, they were enormous doorstop-slices of whole cakes. The staff had been very happy and keen to help all night, so we asked if we could share their smallest slither of carrot cake. It was fitting for me, as carrot cake was my own grandmother’s favourite and always reminds me of her. They brought us two taster portions with vanilla ice cream, which was a really lovely touch.
Muriel and Maureen, or ‘Nanny’ as I knew her, would definitely have been pals.
Muriel’s Kitchen, 30 Hill St, Richmond, TW9 1TW
Author: Carla Juniper
Carla is a proud Putney-dweller and newly-minted vegetarian. She loves pickled beetroot and experimenting in the kitchen, especially when accompanied by a very large glass of wine, which is known to aid creativity and culinary prowess. In her spare time she uses her degree in Illustration to create bespoke digital portraits (you can check our her work here).
She also sucks at the flying trapeze.