Spoilt for choice...
Joe Willis discovers that a long-standing Richmond restaurant can hold a candle to its more recent competition.
Bemoaning the lack of decent places to eat in Richmond used to be a common pastime. In recent years, however, the town has seen a bit of a boom. The Frenchgate Hotel, The Station, Rustique and La Piazza 2 have all popped up and proved popular. Throw in a couple of Indian restaurants, a Thai, and a dozen or so pubs and hotels that all serve food and you have, at the very least, a decent choice of where to enjoy a meal you haven't cooked yourself.
On top of all these you have the unassuming New Treasure Garden, a restaurant and take away specialising in Cantonese and Szechuanese dishes.
Tucked away at the top of Castle Hill, it claims to be the longest standing restaurant in Richmond.
We visited on a soggy Sunday evening, but were pleased to find we were not the only diners to have braved the rain.
We arrived hungry and so, rather than spend time labouring over the very extensive menu, we plumped for the mixed starter for two, which included wontons, crispy seaweed, spare ribs, prawn toast and spring rolls.
Everything was very tasty. Well I say everything. Obviously the seaweed wasn't, but I'm sure its job is only to add colour and a little interest, like a Chinese parsley.
The prawn toast was the highlight. Unlike some you come across, it clearly was a combination of both prawns and toast, rather than toast and fishy water.
For her main course, Sarah opted for the classic sweet and sour chicken. It arrived sizzling, with big chunks of pineapple and bigger pieces of chicken coated in a sticky sauce that was a tangy treat.
My shredded duck with pancakes was also excellent, although I've never had a crispy duck that was anything less than a joy, except once when I (over) cooked it myself.
The duck arrived on the bone, before being expertly shredded at the table by a member of the waiting staff, who were efficient and attentive, but without fussing, all night.
Whether you're eating Indian or Chinese, the sweets are rarely the high point. They are usually bought in and frozen affairs, and for the most part the Garden's were no different.
Undeterred, Sarah decided against the Punky - ice cream in a plastic punk-themed bird container - instead choosing something called a Fantastica, which was a perfectly acceptable ice cream gateau thingy.
Feeling adventurous and because it reminded me of munching on battered Mars bars while at University in Edinburgh, I chose the deep fried ice cream. Unsurprisingly - it was made from batter and ice cream - it was a revelation, which I will be trying to make for the kids soon.
If I had to have a moan, I would have to say that the muzak at the Garden was awful. Don't tell anyone but I'm actually a fan of Phil Collins. However, I still don't want to listen to an instrumental version of Easy Love while munching on a prawn cracker.
The bill, including a glass of house white, a pint and a half of lager and a couple of soft drinks, came to £61.90 which seemed reasonable.
All in all, we had a lovely meal at the Garden and even though Richmond now has a selection of good restaurants, I'm sure we will be back soon.
- Food 4/5
- Service 4/5
- Ambience 3/5
- Value for money 4/5