In an area of South West London, packed with countless gastronomic experiences, there is one very simple answer to the question: Where shall we eat out tonight? The answer, of course, is Teddington.
However, once you get here, you will be faced with the wonderfully delicious dilemma of where exactly you should choose as the town, from Church Road and Broad Street, to the High Street and the riverside, is crammed with cafes, bakeries, delis and restaurants offering an eclectic range of delights.
If you are after a fine-dining experience, then head to Retro, 2012 winner of the Good Food Guide London Restaurant of the Year award and owner of two AA Red Rosettes and two Michelin Forks. Accolades aside, this modern French eatery, presided over by the flamboyant Vincent Gerbeau, with head chef François Fayd’Herbe de Maudave in the kitchen, offers up sophisticated dishes at an affordable level. The service is always excellent, the menu varied and the soufflé to die for.
If you would like to head a little further south, gastronomically I mean, then Canta Napoli is the destination for you. This Italian restaurant, established in 2010, imports many of its ingredients directly from Italy and prides itself of offering authentic flavours of the mother country. It is great for relaxed family occasions and there are tons of events with real Italian flavour, from regional evenings to experience different flavours of the country, to Tuesday Tombolotto, a game based on tombola, which is played in family homes on New Year’s Eve. With fresh, creamy mozzarella, juicy buffalo steaks, as well as pasta and seafood, there is something for everyone here.
If you’re in a rush and need a quick fix to fill that gaping hungry hole, there’s no better place to stop that one of the three Cavan Bakery branches, whose tasty morsels have caused many dieters to fall off the wagon. Founded in 1929, it is still very much a family business (now on its third generation), which prides itself on tradition, good quality ingredients and baking skill. You might be a sucker for a jam doughnut (I know I am) or a soft, white bloomer, or one of the many breads, cakes and sandwiches on offer. Personally I find it hard to walk past without buying a Chelsea bun. Sweet or savoury, forget the diet and pop in for a treat.
Feeling a vintage vibe coming on? There’s no better place to head than the Fallow Deer. When this hugely popular eatery opened back in 2013 it had a tiny location opposite that unwelcome American giant Starbucks. Undaunted in what was clearly a David and Goliath situation, the Fallow Deer merely popped a sign outside offering customers “more Star, less Bucks”. With its mismatched crockery, quirky music but undoubtedly delicious dishes, it came as no surprise that new, larger premises had to be found further down the high street.
Since then it has evolved to include an alcohol licence, cocktail evenings every Friday and a supper club every other Saturday. It serves brilliant breakfasts (I LOVE the Eggs Royale), which also can come with a spicy Bloody Mary or Bucks Fizz, luscious lunches and where possible use local suppliers, like the butchers AG Miller. There are cakes baked on site and numerous gluten-free options, too. Only recently, Status Quo star Rick Parfitt Jr was found on Twitter extolling its virtues, one customer among many it has to be said. Entering is like going into a time tunnel; you’ll sit there, munch and drink your way through the menu and emerge bleary-eyed into the street, wondering how on earth you have managed to spend so much time there. And the answer? Try it and see; it’s remarkably easy.
Finally, there’s no greater gastronomic doyenne in Teddington than Shambles Bar and Restaurant. It is cosy and welcoming in winter and in summer guests can retreat to its secluded, wisteria-hung patio garden and imagine themselves well and truly in Italy. For more than 30 years, this family-fun restaurant has been serving up Italian food, with a modern twist, but firmly rooted in authentic Italian tradition. The pasta is made freshly every day and Shambles also has its own kitchen garden, from which, in summer, Chef Massimo uses herbs, fruit and vegetables. You can choose from a selection of cicchetti (or little eats) if you are feeling only a little peckish or go the whole hog with one of the primi piatti (pastas – I always have pasta ribbons with wild mushrooms) and secondi piatti (mains) that include delights such as slow cooked venison with buckwheat polenta or sea salt-baked sea bream. There is also a bar menu, with salads and ciabatta, a brunch menu and a selection of desserts that will have you seriously considering elasticated waistbands. Shambles is a seriously sophisticated slice of Italian cuisine on your doorstep.