Review of The Retreat Kitchen in Richmond

New businesses seem to open frequently in the Borough of Richmond but a café near the mini roundabout at Richmond Bridge is worth a special trip.

The Retreat Kitchen had a soft opening in February and is due to have its official opening in the summer, when one of its investors, television presenter Nick Knowles – of DIY SOS and other TV shows – will cut the ribbon.

Nick Knowles was involved in the BBC show of the same name which will be screened on Netflix (with extra footage) in the summer of 2017. 12 participants went to Thailand for a month to try a regime of yoga, no alcohol, meditation, life counselling and exercise. The diet was entirely plant-based, or vegan. Nick Knowles was so impressed, he wrote a cook book, which I recommend, especially if you want healthy but satisfying food.

Two other participants, Maggie Nuttall and Claire Langdon became friends on the retreat and when they got back to England decided to change their lives permanently and open a plant-based restaurant. Maggie prepares most of the savouries and Claire is the one with the sweet tooth. All the food is home made, as organic as possible, and bursting with flavour. The hands-on owners work in the café daily and the friendly ambience is down to them.

Totally Richmond was invited to try the café and I took my vegan daughter along. It’s so nice for both of us to be able to have anything off the menu. But I must stress, you don’t have to be veggie to eat here – the food speaks for itself. And there’s no proselytising or vegan smugness either. Maggie and Claire just love their food and want to share it with others.

Serving brunch at the weekends from 11am to 3pm, we went on a weekday to enjoy the lunch that is served Tuesday to Friday. I had the quiche plate and salad served with one of Maggie’s gorgeous quiches. The pastry melts in your mouth and she has experimented with cashew cream to get the custard just right. If you thought salads were boring, the Retreat Kitchen will change your mind.

I had wheat berries and chopped beetroot with a sweet and sour dressing; and the standout for me – smoky aubergine with chickpeas and coriander. Sophie had a wrap stuffed with falafel, smoked paprika houmous and salad leaves. Much more appetising, she reported, than the commercial versions. We shared a slice of rose water and pistachio cake, one of Claire’s specials. I enjoyed a freshly brewed Earl Grey tea; Sophie helped herself to a glass of water – available for all customers. A nice touch, I think.

It’s the perfect place to pop in too for a morning coffee or afternoon tea, as a rest from retail therapy or before or after a walk in Richmond Park. With a large range of smoothies and juices available, they are also licensed, so perhaps think of an excuse to enjoy a glass of prosecco or vegan wine.

Full details on the Retreat Kitchen