As a born and bred Londoner (or at least one of those fake Londoners that grew up in the outer boroughs), I’m a bit of a know-it-all. In my mind, no gem is hidden to me, no trendy pop-up will pass me by, and there’s no riverside restaurant that’s not on my radar.
Sometimes it’s great to be wrong.
Enter View 94 – a riverside restaurant in an area I don’t know too well. You see, Wandsworth doesn’t know it’s cool. Yes, there are no artisan sourdough bakers or cocktails in jam jars here, but I’ll take village-style terraced houses, backstreet pubs with fires and tourist-free riverside paths over that any day.
View 94 manages to achieve the seemingly impossible – a true hidden gem, right on the river. You’d think that no Thameside spot remains undiscovered, but that’s part of Wandsworth’s charm – it stills feel ‘local,’ in a good way.
With the river in front of us, a potent negroni in one hand, and the menu in the other, we ordered our starters. My friend’s starter was a truly multi-sensory experience. After the dramatic unveiling from under a glass cloche keeping in the smoke, we were hit by the intense aroma of the smoked salmon. Our eyes were then drawn to the impeccable presentation, before finally tucking in to find out if it could taste as good as it looked. With a fennel and orange salad joining a chilli dressing besides homemade smoked salmon, it certainly did.
My starter was also a lesson in blending flavours and textures. Delicately presented, it was deceptively rich, with cured venison and black truffle dressing offset by the crunch and sweetness of green apples and a cranberry and hazelnut crumble.
The theme continued – my main was yet another beautifully presented, flavour-rich dish. A good chef knows how to get the simple things right, and this dish is all about not cluttering the plate with ingredients, but focusing on the main event, in this case a perfectly cooked, pan-fried duck breast. Throw in some marinated red cabbage, almond flakes and mandarin jus and you’ve got yourself a sublime dish.
My friend’s main was risotto’s answer to Jackson Pollock. Bright colours were majestically strewn across the plate, surrounding a centrepiece of sublime lobster. The addition of a spicy tomato coulis and shelffish cappuccino led my dining companion to explain it’s one of the best dishes he’s tried in a long time. Having had a bite, I can see why.
A good cheese board is hard to resist, and having seen View 94’s commitment to quality produce in our starters and mains, we knew we’d be in for a treat. As expected, we were presented with a selection of high quality cheeses, served with quince jelly and crackers.
Never before have I been sprayed with rum essence from an aftershave-style bottle before eating a dessert. But View 94 take all the senses seriously, and the aroma added a an extra festive feel to my gourmet take on a mince pie. A fittingly theatrical end to an exceptional evening of fine dining.
Part of me wants to keep this hidden corner of Wandsworth to myself, but unfortunately it’s too good not to share. This one’s firmly cemented itself as one of my hidden gems to recommended, so I can go back to being that smug know-it-all after all.
Prospect Quay, 94 Point Pleasant, London, SW18 1PP