The Petersham, Covent Garden.
“It’s meant to be amazing!” It’s the third time I’ve heard those words and now I’m not sure The Petersham will ever live up to the image I’ve built up in my head. With their first restaurant already something of a landmark in Richmond thanks to its floral finishes and elegant design, the family-run Petersham Nurseries is planting two further restaurants in a more accessible location.
Hidden in plain sight, among the buzz of the diners and theatre-goers, you’ll find the aptly named Floral Court. With a delicatessen, home interiors shop, bar and restaurant surrounding a small courtyard, Petersham Nurseries has set up shop in a big way.
Despite being moments away from the sparkling West End, it feels like a well-kept secret. Soft jazz music plays in the background while diners chat happily, smug in the knowledge that they’ve found the secret too. With a glass of rose petal Prosecco in my hand, I settle in for the evening. Behind me is a large floral display and the heady scent of fresh flowers lingers in the air – it certainly lives up to its name as a nursery. The rustic furniture, along with the weathered, vintage mirrors and opulent chandeliers are also reminiscent of a Parisian café. It’s elegant but in an outdoorsy rough-around-the-edges way – we are, after all, sat on what looks like fancy garden furniture.
Likewise, the food is beautifully presented without being too fussy. From the pea and mint risotto that has me wondering whether I should ask the chef for the recipe, to the melt-in-the-mouth fillet of John Dory, each dish is light but still generous in size. And let’s not forget the almond and apricot tart that I’m not sure I’ll ever be done talking about. But it doesn’t stop there, because it wouldn’t be Petersham Nurseries if there wasn’t a flower or two to finish each dish off – a fitting nod to the setting and its ever-popular sister restaurant.
It seems Petersham Nurseries is not the only one making the move to the West End. Between now and September, 20 new restaurants will be opening in the area, turning Covent Garden into the place to eat. But take it from me, this is the rose in the floral crown of King Street and it’s already in full bloom.