There was a tough choice facing the judges of this year's Menu of the Year Award. But what made the Glasshouse, Kew, London, stand out was a menu described as "clean and fresh" and, at £21 for three courses either at lunch or dinner, "excellent value for money".
This isn't so surprising given that the Glasshouse, which is only four months old, has a good pedigree, coming from Nigel Platts-Martin, creator of two-Michelin-starred the Square restaurant. Head chef Anthony Boyd was also plucked from here. But, far from copying its accolade-ridden cousin, the judges noted that: "It was obviously not trying to be the Square, but was standing on its own".
What Boyd has created on his menu, which features seven starters, seven mains and eight desserts, are dishes that he decribes as "modern British". The judges agreed. "Where else in London would you get blanquette of veal?" asked one of the dish served with morels and truffle mashed potato.
Boyd's fondness for veal is also shown among the starters where it appears as part of a combination with ham, artichoke and foie gras terrine with walnut and raisin toast.
A criterion for winning the award was use of seasonal produce, which was shown on a March dessert menu by Boyd using blood oranges as a glazed parfait with bitter chocolate sorbet. Even the simplest of puddings such as rhubarb and custard had judges salivating.
As well as the three-course set menu, diners, who average about 25 at lunch and 75 in the evening, are offered a one-course lunch for £12 with two courses costing £15. When wine, chosen from the 54-strong list, is taken into consideration, typical spend is about £40 per head.
Not only does the 60-seat eaterie live up to its name - its outside walls are made of glass - but Boyd has lived up to his ideal for the restaurant, which, in his own words, was "to be a very good local rather than a special destination restaurant, offering food that isn't messed about with".
The Menu of the Year Catey is chosen from the 12 winning monthly menus featured in the Menuwatch pages in the Chef section of Caterer. This year's entries came from as far apart as Sunderland in the North-east and Devon in the South-west. n