European Flavours At Home In Wimbledon

A fresh approach on Wimbledon Hill

There's been a popular restaurant at 40, Wimbledon Hill Road, for more than 17 years now, but the owners have recently re-branded the former Piaf and are now offering "modern European" food under the name of 40 The Hill.

The restaurant itself has got a fresh, new, look - which starts right from the sharper-looking exterior, near the bottom of Wimbledon's famous hill.

Once inside 40 The Hill, there's a relaxed area (see right) around the bar - great for one of those after-work drinks which might just turn into a meal.

We sat in the main part of the restaurant, near the back. It was quite a busy Friday night, which helped create a pleasant atmosphere. But it wasn't too loud to stop us having a bit of a gossip.

I had a refreshing half of Meantime London Pale Ale while we read the menu - which offered eight starters and nine mains. There were also a few dishes on a 'specials' board at the back of the room.

The European theme certainly came across in the starters - with dishes including seared foie gras, smoked eel and ham hock terrine.

But we decided to share a serving of wild mushrooms and Roscoff onions on toast with a Bearnaise sauce (£7.50). This was simply lovely and I definitely had trouble getting my half of the portion!

I guess it was just as well that I really enjoyed the mushrooms, as I opted for a main course of wild mushroom risotto, parsnip crisps, parmesan and truffle oil (£12.50). Risotto is one of my favourite dishes, but it can go wrong and can be impossible to do well at home! But this certainly didn't let me down. The rice was cooked to a perfect consistency, with a lovely flavour. As there as a relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant, I used my fingers to help me nibble my parsnip crisps - mmmmm, more next time, please.

My companion picked walnut-crusted cod with parsnip sauce (£15.50). She also ordered side portions of green beans (£2.95) and minted new potatoes (£2.95). The cod came on a striking-looking slate plate, with the parsnip sauce having a bit of a thicker consistency than what she was expecting. But this didn't mean she didn't like it - in fact, she thought it was delicious.

The cod was also a perfect portion - lovely and flaky, with the walnut not being too over-powering. I must add that the green beans were a real hit, but we couldn't quite finish the potatoes between us.

Other main courses included free-range chicken breast, creamed Savoy cabbage and bacon (£14.50); pork t-bone, apple fritter and hand-cut chips (14.95); and pumpkin, shitake and walnut pie with butter beans (£11.50).

Throughout the meal, the attentive waiting staff made sure we were happy with our selection. They seemed genuinely interested in us, and we couldn't fault their efficiency.

Naturally we left a tiny bit of room to sample a dessert, and we decided to share a lemon curd mille-feuille (£5.50). The lemon curd managed to be both tangy and smooth - a great way to round off an excellent meal.

We'd each washed our food down with a 250ml glass of wine (a Sauvignon Blanc and a Grenache Rose). I'd also had a macchiato to finish. The final bill came to £70.09, including 12.5% service charge, which neither of us could argue with.

It might not be the cheapest restaurant in Wimbledon town centre, but we'd had a high-quality, no-rush, meal in pleasant surroundings and, with spring in the air outside, it certainly felt like a taste of all things European.

Do you agree with our review? What's your top Wimbledon restaurant/pub? Why not comment on our forum?

Sue Choularton

March 19, 2012