Spring dining aboard the RS Hispaniola

Peter Morrell samples the new menu on this uniquely located restaurant ship while enjoying the superb view and stylish décor.

I was standing on the sun deck of a ship sipping a glass of Laurent Perrier Brut champagne, a warm evening breeze wafted across the water and before me some of the world’s most iconic sights. I could have travelled 000s of miles to get to a location like this but I am in central London, on the RS Hispaniola.

Moored in one of the most enviable positions on the Thames, the ship is opposite the London Eye and just downstream from the Houses of Parliament. My wife and I were enjoying an alfresco, preprandial drink before moving in to the stylish Upper Deck restaurant to try the new Spring menu.

The new dishes have been created by head chef Barry White who joined Hispaniola recently, bringing with him a wealth experience from kitchens across the globe including The Connaught in London.. Last summer he worked with two Michelin star chef Tom Kerridge showcasing Tom’s signature British flavours at Royal Ascot.

There was a good range of starters from a very British warm wood pigeon salad, to a more exotic lobster tian with mango and avocado.. Vegetarians are well looked catered for with wild mushrooms on toasted ciabatta and a heritage tomato carpaccio. My wife’s choice was the smoked mackerel mousse with an innovative beetroot trio, marinated, in a mousse and served as crisps.

My selection was the pan fried foie gras, with a rhubarb duo, poached and as a coulis. Both dishes were well presented and executed and we liked the way that ingredients had been prepared in multiple ways, it was a good introduction to the food.

The mains also offer a broad spectrum of ingredients and styles. Examples are a ravioli of sun-dried tomato and tapenade for vegetarians, fish lovers have a choice of halibut, lobster and sea trout and there is duck, chicken breast and ox cheek for the carnivores.

After the richness of the foie gras I chose the seared sea trout. The fish was moist and delicate and it was enhanced by the contrast of Puy lentils in a bisque broth. My wife had opted for the slow cooked ox cheeks with caramelised onions. sautéed cabbage and Dauphinoise potato, the meat was melt in the mouth tender and full of flavour.

The wine list has been curated by Bibendum, offering a good range from both the old and new worlds. Highlights among the whites were Satellite, a Marlborough New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and the very on-trend Alberino from Spain. On the list of reds examples are the Castillo Clavijo Rioja Crianza, good value at £22.00 and for special occasions the French Gevrey-Chambertin Domaine Roux.

We paired our starters with the Macon Villages ‘Crepillionne’ Domaine Fichet 2013, an exquisite wine which gave strong floral and herbal notes in the bouquet developing into crisp citrus on the palate and a good finish. For the mains we matched the red Syrah Domaine La Croix Belle 2013 from France. Violets and blackcurrants on the nose evolved into a mix of spices in the mouth and hints of liquorice in the finish.

The desserts were all very tempting, from the delicate to the hearty. For someone wanting a light finale there was the Earl Grey and vanilla crème brulee with caramelised orange and for lovers of a good pud, a blueberry, apple and pistachio crumble with custard, which was my choice. My wife’s fruit clafoutis with a lime and coconut sorbet was light but satisfying. If you haven’t got a sweet tooth then there is a selection of British cheeses with oatcakes and red onion marmalade.

With the dessert course we drank the Domaine Cauhape Symphonie de Novembre Jurançon Doux 2011, a lusciously sweet dessert wine full of tropical fruit and citrus aromas.

The restaurant had a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere with large picture windows giving everyone the chance to see the ‘Eye’ and the reflection of the South Bank lights on the river. Good inventive food, very friendly and efficient front of house staff and a truly unique location all came together to create a memorable dining experience.

You can either eat from the A La Carte Spring menu or there is a three course set menu with three choices per course for a fixed price of £28.00, it’s available until 6th July for lunch and for early diners, ideal for theatre goers. The ship also offers a number of other themed experiences and a champagne afternoon tea.

For more information and to book go to www.hispaniola.co.uk

RS Hispaniola is owned by City Cruises who operate a fleet of 20 sightseeing and entertainment boats on the Thames ,carrying in excess of 2 million passengers a year. For more information visit www.citycruises.com