Friday, December 11, 2015

Cocktails, Light Bites and Unforgettable Dessert at No. 1 Duke Street

Ginger Chicken Cakes, Mini Honey Sausages and Smoked Haddock & Spinach Fish Cakes

You may recall previous reviews of No. 11 Pimlico Road and No. 32 The Old Town here on Pink Julep... Well, I'm happy to report that the folks behind some of my favorite watering holes in London have done it again, this time opening a chic new bar & eatery in Richmond called No. 1 Duke Street. From the street, visitors enter through a rather dramatic archway into a lovely garden space and through the doors to a restaurant that can only be described as rustic-chic. 

Old Fashioned made with Bulleit Bourbon
Situated just off the green in the heart of the bustling shopping area of Richmond, No. 1 Duke Street is the perfect spot for afterwork drinks & nibbles, weekend brunches on shopping days or dinner, whether at a romantic table for two or with a big group of friends. As at its sister restaurants, No. 1 Duke Street offers an incredible cocktails list featuring something old, something new and creative reinventions of old classics. The atmosphere is relaxed, inviting and yet rather glamorous at the same time. It's the perfect spot for catching up and having a good time.
Aperol Spritz with Grapefruit
My guest and I start with an Old Fashioned, which features a choice of Bulleit Bourbon or Rye, and an Aperol Spritz. There's nothing particularly new or exciting about an Aperol Spritz, however at No. 1 Duke Street, it's garnished with pink grapefruit. In this case, an unusual, simple, fruity addition to this classic cocktail results in something new and refreshing. Such a treat!

Pork & Fennel Meatballs
The best thing about No. 1 Duke Street and its sister locations are the sharing plates. Dinner isn't always right for the occasion, but having something to nibble on is key when you're out for drinks. This is bar food done right and executed beautifully! The menu items are interesting without being intimidating and they're presented in an informal yet chic way that invites sharing. The Pork & Fennel Meatballs come in a Tomato, Parmesan & Basil Sauce. This was probably my least favorite of the dishes we ordered and yet it was very tasty!

Ginger Chicken Cakes
Without taking anything away from the Ginger Chicken Cakes, I would describe them as grown-up chicken nuggets. Full of flavor, these little delights are perfectly crispy on the outside, succulent on the inside and exactly the kind of thing I like to nibble on when I'm having a cocktail.

Mini Honey Sausages
Sausages are a tricky thing. They need to be soft on the inside, but not mushy while firm on the outside, but not hard. Striking a flavor balance is key and quite difficult to do, given the wide variety of sausages on the market. These Mini Honey Sausages at No. 1 Duke Street just right and made perfect by their honey drizzle... They remind me of sausages at breakfast time that benefit from the extra maple syrup on the plate. Savory meets sweet and they're better together.

Smoked Haddock & Spinach Cakes
Though I like smoked fish in the right dish, I find that it's hard to get it quite right. I also don't like spinach at all. That said, I loved the Smoked Haddock & Spinach Cakes. Moist & flavorful on the inside and crispy on the outside, these little nuggets are warming, comforting and offer up just the right touch of smokiness. These are fish fingers for grown-up and the perfect way to enjoy smoked fish.

Scotch Old Fashioned and Martini No. 1
The best drink I tried all evening has to be the Scotch Old Fashioned. Featuring Johnnie Walker Black, maple and orange, this is a rather flavorful cup of cheer. The No. 1 Martini is a lovely, fruity version of the classic tipple which rather unusually features vodka and gin together among a few other ingredients including Aperol. Don't be fooled by the pretty color of this gorgeous cocktail - it means business and gets the job done!

Maple Banana Toffee Crumble and Blackberry Possett
When it comes to dessert, No. 1 Duke Street has all the bases covered offering warm, cold, chocolate, fruity and even a pudding called Free From Everything which features a vegan meringue and is suitable for people with dietary restrictions. Blackberry lovers will get a real treat in the Blackberry Posset topped with mascarpone cream, but for me the real star is the Maple Banana Toffee Crumble. I'm not usually the biggest fan of warm bananas or a crumble, but this might be my favorite dessert ever. The maple and toffee balance the sharpness of banana with sweetness. The mushy texture of the warm fruit is complemented by the substantial crumble and hot meets cold with the scoop of banana ice cream on top. I can't recall many desserts I've tasted in restaurants in all my years that would rival this one... No pun intended, but the Maple Banana Toffee Crumble at No. 1 Duke Street takes the cake!

Garden Space
I would definitely recommend a visit to No. 1 Duke Street. The food is great value for money, the cocktails are inventive and the atmosphere does not disappoint! With an outdoor garden space, a cozy bar area, a function room upstairs that can be rented privately but also doubles as additional dining space and a small room with a few chairs and a foosball table, there is something for everyone and every occasion. The staff is friendly and attentive, not to mention great for recommendations... If you find it too difficult to choose, just ask and they'll recommend something you're sure to love. I look forward to heading back to Duke Street for more nibbles, drinks and most importantly dessert!

For more information or to make a booking, visit www.no1dukestreet.com
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