Wine List Confidential: Scott’s, Richmond
“Scott’s in Richmond is certainly an effective clone of the original in Mayfair,” wrote critic, Andy Hayler of the sensational two-floor riverside venue which launched in September 2022 – some 169 years after the Mayfair original whose roots reach back to fishmonger, John Scott’s ‘Scott’s Oyster Rooms’. “No expense seems to have been spared in the fit out” he added.
Formerly a branch of RƎVOLUTION, where cocktails such as “Free The Nipple” and “Stud Puffin” met portions of “Loaded Nachos” so gargantuan that they approached an adult’s daily calorific intake, while club sandwiches were simultaneously derided as “poor at best” yet also “tiny” by one “local guide”, the neo-classical, near Venetian, riverside structure has been dramatically enhanced. Under Murano chandeliers and somehow classily mirrored pillars are almost familiar bespoke artworks based on masterly originals, and a tactile, modern sculpture evoking the one at Mayfair supporting an altar of seafood. The semi-private terrace above is shielded from river breezes by retractable glass panes, with live jazz each Wednesday. The restaurant is perhaps best reached by private launch or from aboard the Southern Belle craft, whose operator, Turks Launches, has a pontoon adjacent.
Hired by Terry Kandylis, Group Wine Director for Caprice Holdings, head sommelier, Ian Wharton, followed his English wife, Juliet Doughty, who is the head sommelier of Chelsea’s Elystan Street, from Canada. Formerly of Vancouver’s Elisa Steakhouse and Blue Water Cafe, the holder of a BA in Architecture brings calmness and creativity to one of London’s most magnificent dining rooms. He confessed he managed to avoid the proposed “yellow velour” sommelier uniform in favour of his own finely tailored suits. Having arrived in England in November, Wharton took time to observe how diners chose wine, only beginning to “implement changes” to the wine list from January. Currently, this runs to approximately 220 references versus the 500 of Mayfair, which is still the place to go for flights of Dom Pérignon, multiple Pulignys and Meursaults from the likes of Domaine Leflaive, as well as an array of line-ups of Haut-Brion, Sassicaia, and Château d’Yquem. However, Richmond’s reduced selection is not without excitement, ranging from the likes of Rolly Gassman Sylvaner to Edi Simčič Duet, Raveneau Chablis Les Forêts, Barossa icon, Amon-Ra by Ben Glazter – though it is hard to find a dish such a big wine could be tamed by here – San Leonardo, Tignanello, Gaja Sori San Lorenzo, Opus One, Latour 1995, Cheval Blanc 2005 and Mouton 2000. The cheapest bottle is a Macabeo, Molino Loco, from Yecla at £34 versus the £45 Riesling Hartenberg from Stellenbosch at Mayfair. Sadly, encouraging diners to order red in what is chiefly a fish restaurant, its ice buckets entwined by classical dolphins. is not without its challenges, notes Wharton.
Realised by Chelmsford-raised Head Chef, Tom Fraser, the previous senior sous chef at Scott’s, Mayfair, the menu will be immediately familiar to diners of Mount Street, albeit with slightly gentler pricing overall. Here, veal loin is served versus the chop in Mayfair, with one less oyster option (Gillardeau) and no Beluga caviar among the offerings. Cold and hot dishes are prepared from two separate kitchens, not that diners would know of the perhaps trying logistics at play.
A trio of oysters including mineral-seeming Ostra Regals from seeds from French hatcheries raised in Ireland, were served with slightly spicy, fine-grained wild boar sausages which at first came across as an odd accompaniment though fast became addictive, and mirin vinaigrette. With these, Wharton chose Graci Etna Bianco 2022, an organic, spontaneously fermented, lees enriched Catarratto/Carricante from Etna which he hopes “will challenge Sancerre.”
With the starter of sautéed monkfish cheeks, snails and bacon, served in a skillet, Wharton selected Pinot Noir in the form of Domaine Lebreuil Savigny-Les-Beaune 2017, Pierre & Jean-Baptiste “to pair with the Bordelaise sauce”, with scoopable bone marrow beneath a slice of fried bread bringing extra joy. As the wine expanded in flavours and richness, its soft tannins melted into the rich, impressive dish.
Wharton having “no problem” with returning to white from red, finding it “cleaning of the palate”, the main act of roasted shellfish for two, comprising a lobster, claw flesh exposed, scallops and tiger prawns with garlic butter, served on an antique-looking heated plinth, met the initially angular, citrussy, Les Pellans Meursault 2020 by Vincent Latour.
The old adage that fish restaurants fail in the pudding department was cast away with a finale of four perfectly fluffy cinnamon doughnuts offered with sauces of chocolate, raspberry and best of all, passionfruit curd. With this, Wharton chose a whisky from Buffalo Trace – said to be the world’s most awarded distillery, and Graham’s 20-year-old Tawny, followed by clean-tasting Peruvian coffee.
Habitués of the Mayfair incarnation might have feared replication of the Scott’s brand. Indeed, it is unclear, as with Richard Caring’s The Ivy Collection, which has, as per the evergreen climber itself, spread far and wide, whether Scott’s is to be rolled out further. For now, however, it is likely that John Scott would have approved of bringing Scott’s to the leafy Thames waterfront.
-French and Italian wines
-Glittering interior and semi-private terrace
-Impeccable seafood, including counter
Value: 90, Size: 92, Range: 91, Originality: 90, Experience: 94, Total: 91.4
Scott’s, Richmond – 24 Whittaker Avenue, Richmond, TW9 1EH; 020 3700 2660l; scotts-richmond.com