London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

40 The Hill


40 The Hill stands on prime Wimbledon real estate. Just off the high street and a stone's throw from the tube and train station: perfect for walk-ins. Arriving for our visit we were greeted and warmly welcomed by a charming Italian chap, who we were later informed was the manager. Clearly passionate about the venue and extremely eager to please, it was his charm which made our visit all the more pleasurable.

We opted to try A Taste of 40; a five course tasting menu designed to showcase the best of what 40 The Hill has to offer. Some of what was presented was delicious; some of it was, quite simply, not. We will delve further into this.

First on the list of five courses were hand dived scallops and pork belly with a vanilla and apple purée. This combination of vanilla with scallops is a combination we have had before and a really good match. The pork belly was soft and crispy. This course was good.

Second came the ham hock and rabbit terrine. We were told the ham was sourced from Essex and the rabbit from France, which is a nice piece of knowledge given to us by the manager. Coarse chunks of ham and rabbit, not too much jelly and very juicy meaty flavours made this dish very moreish indeed, and was our favourite of the five courses.

Next on this list was organic salmon and asparagus served with a saffron hollandaise. Upon first inspection the hollandaise appeared very thick, however, the flavours were all there and the dish was quite satisfactory. One of our party didn’t eat salmon so asked for a replacement of monkfish wrapped with parma ham, and although we had corrected the manager (who took our order) twice that we wanted to switch for this and not the venison, when the course arrived it was venison. It’s hard to get annoyed when the service was so sweet. We let it slide.

The fourth round was seared onglet steak and port braised ox cheek served with a garlic mash. Sadly the onglet steak was so tough it wasn’t edible. On the flip side however the ox cheek was very tender and flavoursome and the garlic mash was good.

Portions for this tasting menu are, in fact, rather large (good for value but a bit of a stretch on the waistband when we got to the later courses) and so getting to the end of the journey was tough. Dessert was a vanilla pannacotta which was presented with honeyed strawberries and some berries. Nothing out of the ordinary, but perfectly edible.

This five course tasting menu is priced at £50 which is a little on the steep side considering some of the quality of the dishes. A suggestion would be to cut down the portion sizes, nail the food and lower the price to around the £40 mark.

Served alongside the tasting menu is a selection of five wines served in 100ml measures which can be purchased at an additional £19. We were informed that some of the wines had won awards (what awards we were not sure...) however out of the five only one was consumable: the Floria, Vin Pays Des Cotes de Gascogne for those that are interested. Needless to say, we felt that the wine list needed to be revisited and some more palatable wines selected.

The major positive of this venue is that a new garden recently opened in April. Decorated with fairy lights, it sits enclosed and peaceful away from the hustle and bustle of the high street. This really is a selling point, but if 40 The Hill can improve the quality of the dishes so that all of them are the level of quality that only some are at the moment, then this restaurant will go further. Worth a look if you’re in the Wimbledon area and fancy a seat in the sunshine, but chose wisely until the cooking improves.

40 Wimbledon Hill Road, SW19 7PA

Average price for main meal: £12
Average price for a glass of wine: £5.50
Food/Drink: 2/5
Service: 4/5
Value: 2/5

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