When we stayed at the Royal Garden Hotel in London recently, we were also offered the chance to review The Hispaniola Restaurant on the River Thames. Moored on the Victoria Embankment, only two minutes from the Embankment tube station, were not really sure what to expect. The menu looked extremely high-class and we were not sure how two children, aged 8, would be received. We needn’t have worried though. Not only were the girls well-behaved, the staff made them feel very welcome.
From the moment you walked in, you knew you were on board a boat. There was that familiar feeling of inertia that you get as it sits on the water. I have to be honest, I was a little worried about feeling sea-sick whilst eating! Once we were shown to our table and started to look at the familiar landmarks around us, that feeling soon disappeared as we became used to our surroundings.
Whilst making our decisions, we were served some olives and fresh bread. We all decided on two courses each and, rather than opt for a pudding, I decided upon a starter and chose the well-presented Pan Fried Foie Gras served with rhubarb coulis, poached rhubarb and gingerbread. Having not had foie gras before, it was a new taste for me. I really enjoyed the sweetness of the gingerbread which complimented the liver. I have to say that it was an experience but one that I probably won’t repeat. Foie gras is nice enough but I am not a big lover of it.
Main courses were then served. I had to maintain the standard of exclusivity and opted for the whole lobster thermidore served with triple cooked chips and mixed salad. Ross picked the slow-cooked ox cheek served with caramelised onions, sautéed cabbage and dauphinoise potato. Grace decided upon the chicken goujons and chips and Molly, her friend, chose ravioli of sun dried tomato & tapenade with frissee & lollo rosso salad.
Finally, for Ross, Molly and Grace, it was time for dessert. Grace and Molly chose the chocolate tart with vanilla chantilly cream and Ross decided upon the Earl Grey & vanilla crème brulee with caramelised orange. What he hadn’t banked on was that there were crushed pistachio nuts on top. As someone who can’t digest nuts, Ross had to send it back. They did this with no fuss or trouble and a huge apology and made him a fresh one.
During our meal Ross chose a glass of Argento Seleccion Malbec from Argentina and I had a glass of Alto Bajo Merlot from Chile. Both of the girls had diet coke.
Overall it was very good. The staff were friendly and happy. Nothing was too much trouble and they accommodated our requests without fuss.
I have to say that it was utterly gorgeous. All the courses were cooked to perfection and served beautifully. The portion sizes were large and filling. The kid’s menu was poor in the fact that they just had fish or chicken goujons and chips to choose from. Molly wasn’t keen on either of those options and, as a result, decided upon an adult portion of ravioli – which she also left most of. I would liked to have seen a much bigger variety if they are to accommodate children.I also think that if they are to put nuts in their food, then they should advertise this fact. It is a mistake which could prove extremely costly.
As expected with food of this calibre, it isn’t going to be cheap. The foie gras is priced at £11.50 per portion, my lobster was £31 and Ross’ main course of the ox cheek was £19. The ravioli was £14.50 and the kids chicken goujons and chips were £5.50. The chocolate tart was £6 as was the crème brulee. The glasses of wine were £5.25 and coke was £2.80 per glass. Whilst I felt that the soft drinks were certainly on the pricey side, the cost of both my starter and main were not unexpected.
Being on a boat to eat certainly felt like a novelty. We were seated next to a window overlooking the Thames. We were able to see passing boats and had a great view of the London Eye. The atmosphere within in the restaurant was refined and there were a couple of large parties enjoying celebratory meals. It felt like a lovely, exclusive place to eat.
Any Room for Improvement?
As I stated previously, I think they need to decide whether or not they are going to cater to families and children. I could not see a kid’s menu displayed any where and we had to ask what was on offer for them. There were a few other children in the restaurant but it was mainly an adult environment. I also cannot express enough how important it is that they advertise ingredients on their menus to cater towards those with allergies.
I really enjoyed our experience on The Hispaniola. The food was wonderful, the views were fantastic and it was a dining room like no other! If we were to return then I certainly wouldn’t take the children – I would want Ross and I to enjoy the adult perspective.
Disclosure: We were given a two-course meal each and one drink in return for a review of The Hispaniola, however, all words, images and opinions belong to Victoria Visits and have not been influenced in any way.