Magical, quirky and cosy: it must be Richmond’s popular riverside pub
Words Hannah Clare
From outside, the Marlborough looks like something straight out of the pages of Harry Potter. Intriguingly historic, quirky and cosy. But when you get inside it’s even more magical because the place is a Tardis. By the time we reach our table we’ve passed through three large spaces, each carefully decorated for their different purposes. I’d like to be able to linger in the relaxed pub/bar area but we wind our way through to a beautiful, light garden room to our table. The garden itself is even bigger and even though I’m told it can seat 400, somehow it still manages to feel quite intimate.
We are welcomed heartily by Karen, the proprietor, who is understandably proud of her freshly refurbished establishment, which only reopened in February. She recommends a delicious bottle of Rose, my favourite at this time of year, and aptly named Whispering Angel it’s the herald of a lovely evening.
The menu focuses on some traditional dishes: fish and chips, sausage and mash, but adds a twist of sophistication to each. The staff make us feel really well looked after and I get a recommendation of scallops to start. I love scallops so I don’t need much persuasion – and here they’re accompanied by a satisfying combination of salty prosciutto and creamy celeriac puree. The only tiny niggle was that they were missing their coral, which always makes me a bit sad. We’re spoilt for choice with our mains and I nearly choose a vegetarian option as these are so refreshingly creative, a sweet potato and goats cheese pearl barley risotto looks particularly tempting. But after some deliberation we plump for confit pork belly with pearl barley, wild mushrooms and cider sauce and pan-fried hake fillet with capers and brown shrimp butter sauce. Both are delicious and I have to confess that my portion is so substantial that I have difficulty fitting it all in, particularly with some temping puddings on the menu. Although when it comes to it, my partner happens to order the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted, a salted caramel, so I eat half of his as well.