At the new restaurant No.12, Caroline Harrap finds London quality in the heart of Kingswood
When Chris Lambert opened his restaurant, No.12, in October of last year, it was his intention to bring a “little piece of London” to the leafy surrounds of Kingswood. That is to say, he wanted to recreate the quality of cuisine found in the capital in this salubrious Surrey village, home to the likes of football stars, TV personalities and well-heeled businesspeople. So, has he succeeded in his aim? Well, with head chef Jason Marchant at the helm, who is ex-Claridge’s among other prestigious places, the answer is a resounding yes.
When we visited, it was a grey, rainy Thursday lunchtime, but the warm welcome from Chris and his team, and the friendly, relaxed vibe, made the weather outside seem a distant memory. Beautifully decorated in a mix of neutral tones, sage green and copper detailing, the stylish design makes this place feel like a top-notch restaurant from the moment you walk in, the impressive illuminated bar setting the scene perfectly. Had it been the evening, we could also have enjoyed a pre-dinner cocktail there.
Both of us being veggie, Chris had kindly arranged for us to try a few tapas-style tasting dishes from their carefully curated menu, which is seasonally led using the highest-quality, freshest ingredients available. What followed was, as my other half Marc noted, a “festival of flavours”. From the initial sushi selection to the beer-battered roast vegetables followed by the goat’s cheese and black truffle panna cotta to the cauliflower and Parmesan risotto, this was creative cooking at its best. The star of the show, though, was the sticky toffee pudding with honeycomb ice cream, caramel sauce and popping candy – a fitting crescendo.
In terms of drinks, the restaurant offers an extensive wine list, some creative cocktails and even its own No.12 beer – it’s those little details that really sets it apart. And yet, for all of that, the prices aren’t half bad either, with the lunchtime bistro menu very reasonable indeed. No.12 has also become famous locally for its Sunday lunchtime roasts – which are fast turning into something of a Kingswood institution.
In summary then, this really is the sort of experience you’d get in London, but probably at half the price, without the protracted journey up the A217, and overlooking rolling green fields. Needless to say, we’ll be back…
No.12, Waterhouse Lane, Kingswood KT20 6EB. www.no12retaurant.co.uk