It’s half term week, so a promise to take the boys to Kingston upon Thames – more specifically Bentalls – in the next holiday time was fulfilled. Bentalls has a brilliant toy department, which is its chief attraction to the boys, including the best collection of Schleich animal figurines that I know of (short of going to Hamley’s in Regent Street). They were armed with some money from Mummy and a promise from Nonna that they could choose one animal each and we’d have lunch. They were also armed with raincoats because the weather forecast was not good.
We parked in Bentalls’ car park and of course they wanted to head to the toy department first. There was great excitement at the huge range of toys on offer but they stuck in the end with favourites: Schleich and Lego. Then I suggested we go down to the river where there are a number of restaurants. I’d taken a look at what was there on Google Maps and spotted a burger place – Hache Riverside Social – which also had a kids’ menu. Really you can’t go wrong with burgers when it comes to a 7 and 4 year old! There were vegan and chicken options but I’d no doubt that my two grandsons would go with the traditional beef kind.
It was still quite early and we took a circular route through the old market square where a sign told us there’d been a market there since the 12th century. Through a little alleyway we came to the riverside and saw the Thames with narrowboats moored at the side, smaller rowing boats on the water and swans with little signets gliding gracefully across the river. We started looking at the restaurants on offer, eventually coming to Hache – which the boys decided looked best; they wanted burgers. By this time the rain was starting to fall and hoods had been pulled over heads and although it was still a bit early for lunch at 11.45, it seemed best to take cover and go inside. It definitely wasn’t a day to take advantage of the outside seating, though it would be lovely on a sunny day, so close to the river.
Inside we received a warm welcome and asked where we’d like to sit. The boys wanted a table right by the windows at the front, which was just perfect for staying warm and dry but enjoying a river view.
Immediately kids’ menus for both boys with colouring pages and colour crayons were brought.
The kids’ burger plus a side (fries or salad) was £6.50. Freddie (7) went for a plain burger; Ben (4½) opted for an extra of Mature Cheddar Cheese (£1.50). They came with cucumber and cherry tomatoes on the side but were started so quickly, I didn’t have time to photo the untouched plate! However, you can see the burger came in a nice brioche bun; tomato ketchup was added, and the boys declared them good burgers – and ate them all up!
Nonna didn’t fancy a burger at an early lunchtime and there wasn’t much choice aside from burgers, though plenty of those – beef, chicken, vegan or vegetarian. So I chose one of the two salads on offer. I did briefly consider one of the all-day brunch options of smoked salmon with scrambled egg, but ordered instead the Green Bowl salad: avocado, halloumi, mojo verde, chive oil, wild rice, cavolo nero, red chilli, coriander, omega seeds and a poached Clarence Court egg (£14). There was also a chicken and avocado salad, and I thought about ordering a couple of the starters, which would be a good lunchtime choice for a light meal.
The salad was nice but not wonderful. The poached egg was really good with an amazing dark, almost orange yolk (obviously the Clarence Court effect). The halloumi nicely griddled but quite thin. There was a lot of the cavolo nero and rice, and I couldn’t finish these – it was a large plate of food. It wasn’t a bad salad but I would have preferred something a bit fresher without so much cooked rice and greens.
For drinks the boys chose orange and apple juices (£4), which were very large glasses and of a freshly squeezed kind rather than concentrated, so really good.
They ate all their mains apart from a few fries, which I said they didn’t have to finish as they were generous portions – and they wanted to leave room for dessert! We were out for a treat, after all.
A scoop of gelato (Hackney Gelato) was £3 and came with a choice of chocolate, vanilla or raspberry sorbet flavours. Both boys chose chocolate. When they came I could see they were large scoops and the ice cream looked delicious. Freddie gave me a taste and it was really good. I stuck with my usual espresso though.
At times the rain outside became torrential as we watched it fall heavily, dripping in almost bucketloads from the awning covering the outside seating area, but we enjoyed being so close to the river. It had been a nice meal. I was a bit disappointed in my salad choice, but the boys burgers were great, and the service was excellent and very friendly, which makes all the difference. It’s not a cheap kids’ menu like many all-inclusive ones on offer elsewhere, but we’d definitely go back. Hopefully next time on a sunny day when we can sit outside and enjoy the river more!