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418 Richmond Road
The choice of well-heeled locals for suppers and minor celebrations, A Cena continues to please. It’s an attractive space: all polished wood and white tablecloths. If possible, sit where the room mushrooms out behind the bar, as here the atmosphere is generally buzzing and the draughts have nowhere to go. The kitchen is perfectly competent at cooking the modish range of Italian dishes on the menu – start with a deep, rich Chianti-braised beef bruschetta, or a simple Parma ham and mascarpone risotto; move on to grilled sea bream with capers and lemon, or Gloucester Old Spot cutlet with baked aubergine and oregano. The standard may not cut the mustard in Knightsbridge, but it’s better than you might expect in the ‘burbs, and prices are kind: especially for the express lunch and dinner menus. There’s an interesting Italian wine list to match, and a barman versed in grown-up cocktails to boot.
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Best restaurants in Richmond
Best in South West London
418 Richmond Road
020 8288 0108
St Margarets Station 1km
Richmond Station 1km
Odeon Cinema Richmond 360m
Tues-Sun 12N-2pm Mon-Sat 7-10.30pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
In my opinion, one of the better restaurants I've had the pleasure of eating at outside of the heavyweight central London diners. The prices make it an “occasion eatery” for ordinary folk but when you go it's well worth it. Don't expect to find pizza at this Italian – it's considerably more sophisticated than that. The portions are relatively small but not mean and most of us are too fat anyway. By quality of food, it's a step-up from local comparables such as Brula
and most of the restaurants across the river on Richmond Hill. I hope your collective experiences here are as good as mine have always been.
Food + drink: 2
Ate at A Cena last night and had been meaning to do so for several months as we are local but had never got around to it and on reading many good reviews of it this week thought it was about time we had the A Cena experience!! What a disappontment it was!! After being seated we were immediately asked if we wanted some water instead of an apperitiff and indeed had to try and get someones attention to order one. I found the choice of starters-not being a meat eater-boring and plumped for the scallops at £11.00!!! I found them v salty but they were ok otherwise. My main course, one of two that were my only choice, was seabass with samphire at £19.00.
I was speechless when this arrived as I thought it might have some other vegetable accompaniment but alas no.It once again was very salty and bland. My partner ordered a meat dish and we both came to the same conclusion the food was bland and very OVERPRICED!!! We shall not be returning!
Due to most of Richmond's roads being closed, I had to walk the last half mile to this place, over the bridge and in both shirtsleeves and the cold, and so it was going to have to be good from the start if it was going to improve my mood. Fortunately it was. That I have given each category the same score is a real compliment – it is not often that restaurants get the balance right, particularly at the upper end of the rating scale, between all the important elements of dining out, and frequently good food is spoiled by shoddy service or vice versa.
This restaurant's website describes itself as “a simple family-style Italian restaurant with a modern twist”, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Don't mistake simple for uninteresting; the menu was full of dishes I wanted to eat. The dishes (and there were five of us so I saw lots) were indeed simple, in that they didn't involve an excess of ingredients or complicated cooking techniques, and that is good. Added to decent quality ingredients and careful, sympathetic cooking this made for a lot of enjoyable food, and my fussy dining companions didn't have a moan between them (luckily for me they are fussy only about what they eat, not who they eat it with).
Modernity showed itself in the presentation of some of the dishes, a step up from rustic, but not overly so I am pleased to say. I would also say it was modern for such a restaurant to make some great cocktails – my Manhattan aperitif was excellent. As was my second. (George Carlin said “One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor”, and for me that can also be applied to Manhattans, so I reluctantly stopped there.) The bar is relatively small, but a nice place to sit at while pondering the interesting and OK-priced wine list. Finally on the subject of modern, we asked the sommelier to recommend something and he suggested an American wine made with an Italian grape variety, and it was very good indeed.
Tables are well-spaced, and the buzzy yet cosy atmosphere, combined with the good food and friendly, attentive service, will hopefully mean that this restaurant has a very successful recession. A Cena translates as “come to supper”, and you should.
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