Menuwatch: The Riverhouse Restaurant, Richmond

27 March 2024 by

Riverhouse restaurant at the Bingham Riverhouse hotel is getting ready for spring. Sophie Witts sees how bright colours and fresh flavours define the menu

When Vanessa Marx arrived in the UK from South Africa in 2020, she had a rough start. Six weeks later the pandemic shut down restaurants and, when they finally began to reopen, the London scene was different to what she was used to.

Marx previously ran the Dear Me restaurant in Cape Town and guest judged on Celebrity MasterChef South Africa. "Back home I was a big fish in a small pond and here it's the other way around," she says.

The chef ended up finding her feet at the Bingham Riverhouse hotel in London's Richmond. Run by Samantha Trinder, it is one of the only Black female-owned hotels in the UK. Marx originally joined as events chef, overseeing the many weddings and parties that take place at the riverside venue. When the main fine dining restaurant run by MasterChef winner Steven Edwards closed, she was given the chance to take over at the start of the year.

"It was sort of like watching a movie – you're not going to turn it off 15 minutes before the end," she says.

Citrus-cured fish
Citrus-cured fish

Under Marx, the space was renamed as the Riverhouse restaurant and moved to a more accessible à la carte menu designed to encourage hotel guests and nearby residents to visit multiple times a week. She also began working with local suppliers, sourcing mushrooms from a farm run on the rooftop of the nearby Wimbledon Quarter shopping centre.

"They've got planting boxes and a greenhouse up there. They collect all the used coffee from the coffee shops in the Wimbledon Quarter, mix them with mushroom spores and grow them. Then the guy that grows them literally hops on the bus and brings them over."

These coffee-grown oyster mushrooms feature in a starter on the spring menu, which launches on 11 April and which Marx describes as "very natural and not faffy at all". The mushrooms are cooked on a griddle, dressed with olive oil from Honest Toil and lemon juice, and garnished with lemon zest, dill and dill oil. They are then placed on a base of fermented cashew pâté with cashew cream, which has a tangy, creamy flavour not dissimilar to yogurt.

Tomato tarte tatin
Tomato tarte tatin

Coffee-grown oyster mushrooms
Coffee-grown oyster mushrooms

"The zestiness of the lemon, the earthiness of the mushrooms and the dill – it's super-simple but quite high impact," says Marx.

Marx is a keen forager and plans to use wild garlic, which grows close to Richmond's Petersham Meadows, in a main dish by combining it with double cream, butter and Parmesan to create a sauce for a plate of fresh gnocchi. The strong but delicate flavour and vibrant green colour of the sauce conjures up images of the first days of spring. The dish was on the menu last year and guests have spent the past few months asking for its return.

"The earth offers up these weird and wonderful things to us, it's incredibly entertaining," says Marx. "When I was a child in South Africa, I used to disappear into the bush for hours picking weird things and crushing berries and making potions, I'm still a bit like that to be honest. I love nature, so bringing that into my dishes is what inspires me."


One of her newest discoveries in the UK is cobnuts, a type of hazelnut traditionally grown in Kent. Marx receives hers through the post from Potash Farm in Platt near Sevenoaks and plans to serve them with shaved coppa ham from Haye Farm in Seaton in Devon and peaches.

With warmer weather on the way, the restaurant will soon throw open its windows overlooking the riverside and let guests sit outside on the balcony. "I have visions of people on the balcony having some bubbly with little jars of caviar and potato crisps," says Marx. "It's the sort of place you want to spend the afternoon."

One of the most popular dishes on the current menu is a creamy slab of slow-baked cheesecake, which will be updated for spring with the tang of poached rhubarb and the heat of sliced ginger.

"We get rhubarb in South Africa, but it's got a bit of a cult following in Britain," says Marx. "At the risk of sounding like a bit of a girl, I love that pink colour. It inspires a certain spark of ‘summer's on the way'. That's when the mood starts to lift, so I try and design the food around that feeling as well."

Baked cheesecake, Yorkshire rhubarb, ginger
Baked cheesecake, Yorkshire rhubarb, ginger

From the menu

  • Grilled Wimbledon Rooftop Farm oyster mushrooms, fermented cashew, lemon and dill
  • Cured chalk stream trout, fennel bulb and citrus salad
  • The Organic Cure coppa ham salad, radicchio, peas, mint vinaigrette
  • Isle of Wight tomato tarte tatin, burrata, basil
  • Wild garlic gnocchi, Parmesan, spring herbs
  • Baked cheesecake, Yorkshire rhubarb, ginger
  • Whole orange cake, lemon posset, citrus and raspberry

61-63 Petersham Road, Richmond TW10 6UT

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