Chris Gray discovers that the Glass Dome is a "hidden gem"
There’s a hidden gem lurking down near the Thames in Putney. Well, perhaps ‘hidden’ might be too strong a word for any restaurant on an A-road in south west London, but the Glass Dome Restaurant is certainly a bit out of the way.
And it’s easy to miss its little frontage on a quiet stretch of Putney Bridge Road just out of the town centre on the way to Wandsworth Park.
It’s small because the Glass Dome restaurant is taking up half of what used to be a larger Italian, and once inside, the narrow space gives the restaurant a pleasing intimacy. Sitting at the street end facing inwards gave me a vantage point from where I could observe the entire venue; fellow diners, the cosy bar area, and the pianist at the back.
The Glass Dome proudly bills itself as a restaurant and piano bar, which had made me a little wary, due to previous experiences of intrusive pianists spoiling otherwise decent dining occasions.
This time, there was nothing to fear; the music was a compliment to the food rather than a distraction, and tailored to an early evening crowd. There was even a rendition of ‘The Snowman’ for a six month old baby who snoozed peacefully allowing the parents to enjoy their meal.
Any requests were taken, and when I put this promise to the test I was rewarded a few minutes later with a lilting version of The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset.
In the meantime, I’d had an aperitif of some surprisingly dark Mexican beer, Negra Modelo, and polished off my starter of seared scallops in passion fruit butter (£8.95). The combination of buttery mollusc and citrus kick put me in a seriously good mood for the main event; some Argentine steak.
I ordered a 250g rump (£14.95) with wild mushrooms cream (£2.25) and glazed asparagus (£4.35), and was thrilled with all of it. The steak was cooked magnificently medium rare, with a crispy salty exterior and tender interior, the sauce was strong with chunky slices of mushroom, and the asparagus was al dente, with a bit of bite rather than soft and floppy.
Sticking with Argentina, I enjoyed a Malbec Reserva from the Uco Valley, which pairs beautifully with steak, and also lasted me through to a cheese course dessert, where it also worked well.
Throughout the meal I had attentive but not fussy service from the waiting staff, and friendly appearances from the owner, John, whose wife happens to be head chef.
His enthusiasm for the Glass Dome, which has been open for less than a year, is infectious and he has an entertaining series of anecdotes about his times running a record shop in Sheen and the early rock and pop years in London.
As well as the food, music, and chat, I enjoyed hearing the shouts of ‘service’ from the kitchen as a result of the small scale of the place, and the paintings of the area by Putney artist Jo Bowen.
It’s fitting having a local artist on the wall as the Glass Dome is a great local restaurant. I can see it appealing to foodies, families with young children (there’s a £5.95 kids menu), couples, and small groups on a night out.
It may not be in the most convenient part of Putney, but it’s a lot closer than travelling up to the West End. And the food and experience is just as good.
Reader offer: Free glass of wine when you quote PutneySW15.com
October 8, 2013