Rupert Hohwieler 23/11/22
Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden | A Secret Urban Oasis
Working in orchards can be tough.
You really learn to grow a pear.
And no other plant-proliferator works harder than Richmond’s Petersham Nurseries – a twinkling grotto of a gardening emporium, whose in-house (or to be specific, in-greenhouse) restaurant earned a Michelin star under head chef Skye Gyngell. An exodus ensued as Londoners duly made the trek out to southwest London, and – while it’s since lost that star – it’s retained a certain je ne sais quoi that has kept drawing the faithful across town for years afterwards.
Because a second, more central, and far larger space, Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden, has opened – rather appropriately, next to Floral Court. The space is so large, in fact (16k sq ft) that it actually houses two restaurants… and that’s not to mention the bar, deli, florists, and wine cellar. Although we absolutely will. Here’s how it all breaks down:
The main space at Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden is The Petersham, an à la carte restaurant decorated with glittering glass chandeliers, huge fern trees and outdoorsy wrought iron chairs. This is, unsurprisingly, the more formal of the two eateries – and so the prices are, on a scale of root to leaf, nearing Redwood levels. But you’ll eat well for those prices – there’s slow cooked pork with Marsala, girolle mushroom and summer beans; Haye Farm beef to share; an oozing burrata and tomatoes starter; and lush veg to go with it all. For dessert, meanwhile, there’s elderflower panna cotta, cherry, almond and pistachio tart, and the decidedly less healthy Original Bean chocolate with Zisola olive oil ice cream & honeycomb, among others.
Next door to The Petersham is the much less formal La Goccia, where diners can sit at the bar surrounding the open kitchen, and watch as chefs sling fresh veg and quality cuts onto the grill & into the wood-burning oven. The menu here expands on the Italian accent of the Richmond café, dishing up on cicchetti – essentially Italian small plates – like beef shin ragu, soft polenta and parsley; linguini with chilli, parsley and bottarga; lemon sole, salsa verde and tomatoes; and fried sage & anchovy and lemon. There’s also a reasonable ‘express lunch’ set menu, plus breakfast dishes – the ingredients for which you can scoop up in the deli after.
To balance out the food bar you’ll also find a bar bar, and a striking one at that – to make it, the owners collected leaves from the forest floor then had them individually hand-cast in bronze by artisans in Italy, before using them to cover the bar. Behind it, there’s everything needed for a rotating menu of botanical cocktails, using herbs & edible flowers from the Richmond garden (this is, of course, assuming that you’re not already drinking something from their very extensive wine cellar).
Thankfully that cellar is also part of the Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden site, and is also for sale – alongside pretty much all the ingredients used on the menus – in the bright and airy delicatessen. Should you be less inclined to DIY, however, they’ve got more dishes here to indulge in, from breakfast pastries to sandwiches, plus fresh handmade pasta and cheeses to take home. Next door, you’ll find the florists, and the Petersham Nurseries shop – stocked with all kinds of impossibly beautiful, antique-looking garden bits and bobs; pots; and fancy trowels.
The final pièce de résistance is the courtyard. Sheltered from the bustle of Covent Garden, it’s filled with verdant, lush plant life to create the “fragrance of almonds and citrus”. Even in winter, giant awnings and heaters provide shelter for al fresco dining and afternoon tea, but it really comes in to its own during the warmer months.
Both of them.
NOTE: Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden is open daily. You can make a booking for the restaurants, and find out more at their website right HERE.
Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden | Floral Court, WC2E 8JD
Like spending time round here? Check out our favourite restaurants in Covent Garden
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Floral Court, Covent Garden, WC2E 8JD
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