Haute cuisine without the haughtiness at 40 The Hill, Wimbledon
Review by: Faye Coulman
Take one recently established restaurant, add the best of British produce, mix liberally with a dash of continental panache and you’re left with a mouth-watering new proposition by the name of 40 The Hill. Launched in late 2011, this enterprising Wimbledon team wasted little time in carving out their own unique culinary path armed with a wealth of high-quality ingredients and innovative menu ideas.
Among the most recent of 40’s gastronomic delights, this season’s Taste of 40 five-course menu features a choice selection of the restaurant’s finest dishes teamed with an expertly selected wine to complement each course. From ham hock and rabbit terrine to tender, port-braised ox cheek, there’s an instant sense of traditionalism about 40 The Hill. But despite the restaurant’s steadfast dedication to sourcing sustainable, classically British ingredients, this is anything but predictable English fare.
Benefiting from a rare sunny evening in late May, 40 The Hill’s Mediterranean charm immediately comes to the fore as the restaurant’s head waiter offers me a cordial welcome that’s refreshingly free from stuffy formality. With the warmth of the late evening sun filtering in through a nearby open door, I select a glass of delicately crisp Lunetta prosecco and peruse the menu. While the luxurious Taste of 40 pick may be an overwhelmingly meat-dominated affair, a cursory glance at the à la carte menu also reveals a varied range of meatless dishes to suit my vegetarian diet. Featuring a deliciously divided taste combo of acidity and sweetness, the elegantly presented Ragstone goats’ cheese, beetroot carpaccio and elderflower curd starter far surpasses my expectations, while the wild mushroom bruschetta with béarnaise sauce makes for a more traditional choice. And despite lacking the goats’ cheese’s dramatic range of flavours, the tender, earthy mushrooms enveloped in the creamy sauce make for a complementary mix.
Having recommended vegan biodynamic wine Adobe Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, my waiter takes a moment to bring me up to speed on vine cultivation technique and suitable food combinations. Instantly enticing with a deep crimson glow and good legs, it’s an easy-drinking but delicately spiced drop with firm tannins on the tongue.
More than a little overshadowed by the aforementioned goats’ cheese starter, the mushroom tagliatelle main is an altogether simpler dish that’s regrettably lacking in flavour. The fennel and broad bean pearl barley risotto with preserved lemon, however, forms fine testament to 40’s knack for pulling off unlikely flavour combinations to great effect, with the creamy pearl barley and broad beans playing off perfectly against the sharp tang of the preserved lemon.
Following a palate-cleansing glass of kir royale, desert arrives in the shape of pear tarte tatin and sticky toffee “bread and butter pudding.” Substituting the traditional apple for more mellow, pleasingly textured pear, 40’s unpretentiously rustic twist on the classic tarte tatin proves an excellent selection. Densely spongy and positively dripping with aromatic treacle teamed with a featherweight caramel parfait, the “bread and butter pudding” is a richly indulgent departure from its oftentimes plain and stodgy English cousin. Rounding off a delicious meal with all the attention to detail and creative flair for which 40 The Hill is fast becoming renowned, this is luxurious yet refreshingly unpretentious cuisine to savour.
40 The Hill, Wimbledon