Umame started life as a Pan-Asian restaurant but quickly metamorphosed into a restaurant specialising in contemporary cuisine, based on seasonal ingredients. Located on a quiet high street of Hampton Wick, it stands out from the neighbouring pubs, curry houses and takeaway joints with its sophisticated fare, curated cocktails list and refreshing interiors.
They have a range of menus on offer, including a seven-course Tasting Menu, a five-course Vegan Tasting Menu and Weekend Brunch. Their meat is sourced from Hampshire farms whilst the seafood is brought in from Cornwall and Devon.
For the purpose of this review, we sampled the food from their A La Carte menu.
For drinks, they have an exhaustive selection of cocktails, expertly curated and mixed by their resident mixologist, Hannah. They are about to introduce 60 different brands of gin to create a special edition of gin-based cocktails, martinis and G&Ts which can only mean good news for the gin connoisseurs of the area.
From their selection, we tried the following cocktails:
Blushing Geisha Martini – Vanilla Vodka, Sake, Lychee juice and Rose syrup, served with edible flowers and a shot of pink Prosecco
Old Fashioned Evolution – A brown sugar cube drenched in Angostura bitters, muddled into a syrup, stirred into Makers Mark bourbon and served over a citrus infused ice sphere
Kris had the Old Fashioned. It was a very good example of an OF; not too sweet with a nice texture and flavour of alcohol.
My martini was quite a refreshing cocktail with a smooth finish. Presentation wise, it looked stunning next to the pink prosecco. It was a beautifully crafted feminine cocktail.
Miso Marinated Scallops, Seaweed, Black Bean Dressing, Puffed Wild Rice, Pea Shoot
Farmed Rabbit Pithivier, Wild Mushroom, Chalcroft Farm Smoked Bacon, Turnip, Chestnut, Mustard Sauce
Braised Shoulder of Lamb, Celeriac, Pickled Cranberries, Pea Shoot, Red Wine Jus
The Rabbit Pithivier was impressive. The meat itself was soft, enclosed in a beautiful pastry shell. The mushroom added another dimenion to this dish with its earthy, woody notes.
The scallops were a good choice for a starter. The seaweed introduced that lovely texture and taste of the sea and the puffed rice added bit more crunch. Generally scallop dishes can be uniformly soft textured but this dish achieved the textural contrast perfectly. Unfortunately, one of the scallops was a just a tad undercooked and perhaps needed a couple more seconds in the pan.
Our third starter of the lamb was excellent. The meat had a sort of pulled meat consistency, densely packed which slowly unfurled inside the mouth after the first bite. The underlying purée was pure deliciousness. Overall, a great example of an autumn-winter inspired dish.
At this point of our meal, Kris was offered his favorite tipple – a Smoked Applewood Manhattan. It was presented at the table with much pomp and fanfare!
Slow Cooked Surrey Farm Pork Belly, Buttered Mash, Swiss Chard, Quince Compote, Red Wine Jus
Spiced Pheasant, Crispy Braised Leg, Curried Aubergine Caviar, Cucumber, Red Onion & Plum Tomato Salsa, Moilee Sauce
Being game season, the pheasant was recommended to us. It was done in an Indian style and the flavours worked well together. Unfortunately, that evening one of their ovens had malfunctioned last minute so the pheasant came out quite dry; a fact they acknowledged and apologised for in advance. So, I will have to give them the benefit of doubt here.
People who know me know I am a sucker for pork belly and the Umame version did not disappoint. It was a glorious cut of belly perched on a bed of smooth, savoury mash. It summed up the perfect dinner plate for me.
I would say compared to the starters, the mains were perhaps slightly less exuberant but nevertheless gorgeous in their own way.
For desserts, we polished off twin puddings:
Hot Chocolate Fondant, Brandy Snaps, Dark Chocolate Sauce, Grapefruit & Pink Peppercorn Ice-Cream
Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Candied Peanuts, Toffee, Vanilla Crumble, Miso Caramel Ice-Cream
The peanut butter flavours in the cheesecake were fairly pronounced. The dish had a textural emphasis with the combination of ice cream and crunchy honeycomb. The fondant was spot-on in terms of flavours and taste. Unfortunately, the curse of the broken down oven affected the quality of the fondant too so the center was not gooey enough. However, had everything gone to plan, I would have given this dessert a much higher score.
We were super impressed with Umame in general. It is a real destination neighbourhood restaurant with delicious food, presented beautifully. This place is for people who have a more refined palate and appreciate (and recognise) quality dishes. This restaurant is perfect for an anniversary or a special occasion group gathering.
Our entire evening would have been perfect had the debacle of the oven not overshadowed the proceedings. But the warm and honest service of the team more than made up for it. If you live in Kingston and vicinity, this place should definitely be on your radar.
Location : 5 High Street, Hampton Wick, Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 4DA
N.B. The blog is produced in collaboration with Umame but all photos and opinions are mine.