Much like its celebrated sporting namesake, Olympic Studios in Barnes is rich in history. Dating back to 1906 (two years before The Games were held across the Thames in White City) the building has showcased many great entertainment activities including plays, cinema, dance and concert performances.
Most notably it was a thriving recording studio and in the 60s and 70s housed some of the greats in the music industry including The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Who, Queen and Led Zeppelin. The story behind the venue is incredible and makes for a truly memorable visit.
From the outside the 20th Century building has a gorgeous awning which draws you in. On the inside, each space has been beautifully decorated by interior designer Simone McEwan (formerly of Soho House and Selfridges). It has a number of reclaimed features from its glory days. The venue now operates a studio, café & dining room and cinema.
The café is spacious and meticulously clean throughout. There is a large communal table with long benches in the centre and individual tables dotted elsewhere. I visited for dinner on a Tuesday night and the place was buzzing with great music and the sound of cocktail shakers from the bar.
The cocktail list was made up of the classics (Tom Collins, Old Fashioned and a New York Sour all at £8-9) and some creative movie themed options including the Basil Instinct, Mermaid and the Berry Schrub, which were all £9.
I started the evening with a glass of Col de’ Salici Prosecco di Valdobbiadene 2012 which was £7 by the glass and £36 a bottle. It was dry, crisp, refreshing and woke my palate up after a warm summer’s day.
For my starter I had the broad bean hummus and flatbreads at £6. It was a really nice twist on standard everyday chick pea hummus. It was served chilled, had a smooth consistency and spread evenly across the crunchy flatbread.
My eyes were also drawn to the pan-fried scallops served with chorizo, samphire and lemon thyme butter at £12. There were six options in total along with a couple more on the specials board. They also provided complimentary bread.
On to my main and the choice was obvious for someone who loves fresh seafood. I had the whole lobster which was grilled served with garlic and almond butter and hand-cut chips at £28.
The colour and presentation of the dish blew me away. The lobster was a decent size with plenty of tender meat. The garlic and almond butter was rich but not to the point that it was overwhelming. There was no annoying after taste that night, or the following day. No emergency chewing gum required.
The chips were crunchy and full of potato not air. They weren’t drenched in oil either. Unsurprisingly they sell up to five lobsters a day.
Chardonnay is the number one wine to pair with lobster so I was thrilled to see an option from Australia’s renowned Margaret River region on the wine list. I had a glass of the Fraser Gallop 2011 at £8 for 150ml. It was big, bold and creamy. It felt as though I was sitting by the ocean in South Western Australia, superb!
If lobster doesn’t entice your culinary senses, the other front-running tempters included the Sutton Hoo Chicken with garlic mayo, grilled aubergine, tomato and basil and the Welsh lamb chops with artichokes, new potatoes and mint yoghurt. With a healthy appetite there was the O’Shea’s Irish Angus Côte de Boeuf (hung for 44 days) to share at £68.
The wine list had five other whites and five reds available by the glass. It was good to see some not-so- usual suspects on an English wine list from the USA, Hungary and Geelong (Australia). The Sommelier at Olympic got a round of applause from me.
For dessert I didn’t hesitate to order the Eton Mess which had strawberries at their peak of sweetness. The meringue was blended discreetly through the cream and it was a perfect ending to an already wonderful meal. The other options I liked included the classic lemon tart and the melon and elderflower soup with lemon sorbet and summer berries both at £5.
The cinema team at Olympic had kindly arranged for me to see a film after my dinner. I headed upstairs first to see their gorgeous members bar and sneak in a glass of red before the screening. It was a beautiful space with an elaborate brass bar and a majestic chandelier hanging overhead.
This with access to advanced movie screenings (up to two months ahead of release) and the occasional Director visit make the annual membership entirely worth it. It is now firmly on top of my Christmas wish-list.
The cinema experience was second to none. Big comfortable chairs, incredible sound (what would you expect from a former recording studio) and little tables to hold your carafe of wine, popcorn and sweets.
It’s not often you visit a venue where everything is right. When the food, wine, ambiance, décor and location come together it’s a beautiful thing. My visit to Olympic Studios café, members bar and cinema proved to be a gold medal performance.
Reservations – for five or more people
Wi-Fi – yes
Website – yes
Newsletter – yes
Olympic Studios Cinema, Café & Dining Room is open 7 days for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner
8am – 11pm on weekdays, 8am – Midnight on weekends
How does Olympic Studios Café & Dining Room describe itself? ‘Homemade, seasonal and locally sourced food.’
Contact details and more info…. here.
Sarah is a Richmond local who also writes for Lazy Susan Food Reviews.