Beautifully located close to the banks of the River Thames below the town of Richmond Surrey, Petersham Nurseries is between a half hour and 45 minute drive from Central London.

The Cafe, which takes its name from the gorgeously merchandised nurseries through which you enter, comprises an arboured courtyard with several greenhouses surrounded by plants and trees as well as an eclectic mix of crockery, pots and books for sale – all beautifully arranged with masses of colour, adding to the ambience of the place. It is a perfect venue for alfresco summer lunch away from ‘the madding crowd’.

A perfect venue for alfresco summer lunch away from the ‘the madding crowd’

If you sit outside it may be at an iron table with cushion covered chairs, whereas in the greenhouse the tables might be wooden. Everywhere you look are exotic ferns, lime and rose-coloured hydrangeas, and other flora, fauna and bric-a-brac beneath a dappled light. It is utterly heavenly.

We started with a delicious green leaf salad of beets with anchovies and soft boiled eggs followed by char- grilled scallops with fava beans and samphire – washed down with a perfectly recommended Verdicchio from San Gimignano. To finish, a more-ish, rich honeycomb ice cream and a perfectly executed panna cotta. Everything was excellent including the crusty, country bread and olive oil.

Including service our bill for two was £186, which sounds expensive for a lunch-time only restaurant outside of London yet, for the setting and uniqueness of the place and its very good food, we aren’t quibbling. However, at a similar price level, and with the option of both lunch or dinner, The River Cafe by comparison is an even more accomplished and sophisticated affair with a more passionate waiting staff.

Yet Petersham Nurseries Cafe is an absolute ‘must’ especially in summer sitting outside in gorgeous surroundings, with the river at Richmond a mere short stroll away for walking off a memorable meal . It unquestionably maintains a permanent place on our ‘best of the best’ shortlist.

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