The Waterman’s Arms is the brainchild of local boy Joe Grossmann, who also happens to be the founder of successful burger chain Patty & Bun. Having grown up in Barnes, and drawing on his extensive hospitality experience, we’d argue there are few more qualified for the job. He’s also enlisted the help of two more restaurant pros to lead the ship: Sam Andrews (ex-Camberwell Arms and Ducksoup) runs the kitchen, while Simon Walsh (formerly Anglesea Arms) leads front of house.
The result? This restaurant-slash-pub is a neighbourhood gem if ever we saw one. The team are genuinely warm and enthusiastic, while a playlist of groovy, old-school tunes practically screams: ‘come on in, we’re gonna have a good time’.
The interiors too are cosy and unpretentious, with exposed brick walls, wooden furnishings and minor embellishments in the form of empty wine bottles and flickering candles. We can think of no finer place to spend a chilly autumn evening, with the Thames glistening under lamplight through large, wood-paned windows.
There’s an approachable wine list where even the most conservatively priced option is delicious. And then there’s the food. Elevated British fare emerges from the kitchen, plate by plate, from fleshy chunks of roasted delice squash paired with mellow fontina cheese and crispy sage, to a bright and crunchy radicchio salad punctuated with juicy orange slices and salty pork belly. We select our main course from a chalkboard menu: a whole piece of bass cooked over a wood-fired grill, and swimming in the most gorgeous saffron butter. It’s perfectly seasoned, glowing with the gentlest nudge of chilli heat, and falls apart at the slightest touch.
There’s nowhere to hide with this kind of cooking which is bold in its simplicity and beautifully unfussy. Our dessert, a brash scoop of ganache-like chocolate mousse finished with sea salt crystals and a lick of olive oil, epitomises that point to a tee.
Joe has hit the nail bang on the head with The Waterman's Arms, serving really excellent food and drink in a space that feels like you're visiting a mates for dinner.