There are no dearth of draws to visiting Richmond-based Petersham Nurseries’ outpost in Covent Garden.
With its ethereal sense of glamour and fairytale florals, it’s the sort of place you might pop into to handpick a bouquet of flowers for your next dinner party, inevitably to find yourself ensconced there over an hour later, browsing the gorgeous selection of Venetian glassware.
Understandably, you might be a tad peckish by this point. Thank goodness then, that the capacious space (spread over 16,000 square feet) offers not one, but two new restaurants, along with a take-away-delicatessen next door…
Of the two restaurants, The Petersham is elegantly-formal with interiors and contemporary artworks inspired by the founding family – The Boglione’s – own home in Richmond. La Goccia is distinctly more relaxed. Constellating around an open kitchen, wood-fired oven, grill and bar – it effortlessly revives the art of the aperitivo, ballasted by Italian-style cicchetti (small plates).
Both restaurants are a paean to seasonal produce, sourced from Haye Farm (an organic outfit run by one of the Boglione children, Harry). They also share a common courtyard, Floral Court. Undoubtedly set to be one London’s most sought-after spots for al fresco dining, this secret garden of sorts is a verdant picture of bliss on a sunny afternoon…
Drawn to La Goccia on this visit, we’re rewarded with unfussy and unfettered small plates which whilst lacking a memorable punch, do let the fresh and sprightly quality of the ingredients shine through.
Little broad beans are paired with a creamily-mild pecorino cheese; while plump stems of white and green asparagus are daintily dressed with olive oil and a squeeze of Sicilian lemon.
There’s also a selection of pizzetta (diminutive pizzas), braced by a crisp base from their time in the wood-fired oven; and padella (hand-made pasta). Luxuriating in a pool of sage butter, the ravioli is a highlight, melting to reveal a zesty ricotta and lemon filling.
Put simply, our lunch is good if not as transporting as our lush surrounds. Nonetheless, the pared-back plates lend themselves to a light and leisurely afternoon (or evening!) topped off – in true Italian fashion – by an aperitivo.
As you’d expect, the cocktails are a nod to nature too but with a looming deadline on the horizon, are foregone for a “Nogroni” – a surprisingly strong twist on the classic aperitif made with homemade Vermouth and Seedlip’s (tee)totally terrific booze-free spirit!
Sated and rested, we saunter off a good while later, mentally bookmarking La Goccia’s terrace as an ideal spot to steal some sunshine on our next free afternoon.
La Goccia, Petersham Nurseries, Floral Court, London, WC2E 9FB
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