2 Bishop’s Hall (off Thames Street),
This roomy riverside pub, housed close to Kingston Bridge used to have a bit of a reputation as a not-so-salubrious drinking hole. The clientele wern’t the classiest bunch, and drunk lads propping up the bar were de rigueur. I can’t recall ever eating here before – just nursing the odd pint of Pimms (available on tap, woo hoo!), when it was sunny enough to sit outside and soak up the river view.
I was a little surprised to find that the Bishop out of Residence had been given a makeover. Not just because the ‘after’ shots looked incredibly plush, but also because the new menu made my mouth dribble. Stylish décor and very decent food, were two things I previously hadn’t associated with this place.
A little intrigued, I went along one mid-week evening with a friend to try out the menu and catch up on gossip. The front of the pub looked familiar, but towards the back near the bar, lux wallpaper, leather booths and velveteen sofas have set a different kind of tone. We eased ourselves into one such booth, and got to grips with the menu. The bar snacks have been well thought out with good old favourites like pigs in blankets (£3.00), pork scratchings (£3.50) and the Bishop homemade Scotch egg (£3.50) making decent accompaniments to a pint of beer.
The menu also offers up sharing platters (the Bishop’s board changes daily), starters and main dishes (which include pizzas, steaks, burgers, fish & chips, risotto and baked gammon, to name a few). We decided on the Devilled Whitebait (£3.95) and the Earl Grey smoked ocean trout (£6.00) to start. Both were lovely, but the portions were markedly different, with the Whitebait overflowing from their oven dish, and the trout looking pretty minimalist. It was just as well both weren’t enormous, as we managed to completely over-order for our main course.
It’s wise to check what comes with your main meal at the Bishop – we opted for the steak (£13.50) and the game pie, which came with an unannounced salad and a serving of kale. Certainly not unwanted, but it would have been useful to know so that our redundant side orders didn’t have to go un-eaten. The steak was a good all rounder, but the game & red wine pie (£10.50) won hands down: rich, meaty with a proper pub crust, it couldn’t have been better.
We were fairly full after the main course, but ordered pudding in any case. Our desserts of parfait and chocolate torte turned up looking eye-catchingly pretty. Again, both dishes were good, but the parfait was a picture to look at on the plate, with some added texture courtesy of poached pear, a quince-like jelly and star anise.
The food being served up here is Head Chef Thomas White’s work. Having worked under Morgan Meunier and Marco Pierre White, this new post at the Bishop gives White more free reign. We came back for a second visit a few weeks later and added the Lancashire hotpot to our list of favourite dishes. There are some hits and misses – the roast beef was too pricey for what we got on the plate, but there are some dishes well worth ordering again. My advice would be the game pie, or the hot pot – both were dishes you’d expect to pay a lot more for, and each mouthful was deliciously good.
White has a real chance to stamp his mark on the Bishop out of Residence. He’s taken on a pub that had no particular reputation for food, and it looks as though he’s fully equipped to make a real impact – all for the better.
Watch out for Mussel Mainia on Thursdays at the Bishop out of Residence. A bowl of mussels & chips with a sauce for £9, and a pint of Grolsche Blonde for £1. It’s rare to find a pub that cooks up great food, and one that lets dogs in too. Finding pubs in Kingston that are canine-friendly isn’t commonplace, but the Bishop welcomes furry friends and even has dog snacks up at the bar. For more information, please visit: http://www.bishopoutofresidence.co.uk
Reviewed by: Helenka Bednar