Several years ago Jo and I joked about needing to do a weekly audit of the shops — and especially the cafés and restaurants — along Bridge road in Richmond. You would think that you knew what was where, but a new place would appear and all of a sudden we found we couldn’t remember what was there previously. Now that we don’t live so close and only see a smaller set of the shops less frequently, it seems even more changeable. Tonight a pre-dinner walk from Church street to Burnley street showed changes we knew, and some we didn’t!
There are old favourites that seem to be a permanent part of the landscape, and there are newcomers that seem to open, struggle on for a few weeks or months then close. On the other hand, there are old favourites that suddenly vanish, leaving a sadness and a hole and the nagging feeling that we wish we knew where they’d gone, or why, whether they’ve moved or closed….
Starting at the corner of Church street and Bridge road with a ceremonial beer in the Vine, then off to take notes, mental notes at least…. Vietnam Town still there, check, even if the sign-writing does make it look as though it says Vietnam Tour. The crap local photo-processor who stuffed up my films from the 2001 trip still there, check. Blue Heaven still there, although we’ve no idea what happened to Rainer(sp?) who used to own, run and manage the place…. Silvio’s still there (phew! not sure what I’d do if it closed, definitely my favourite pizza). Oh, the clothes shop next door down has emptied; Bar Humbug is now Plan B but otherwise looks unchanged, Rainbow Silence Heart still as oddly empty and uncomfortable looking as always; then on and on….
Richmond Continental has a new name but doesn’t look much different, only two customers and they don’t look real happy, it looks as though the kiss of death has visited. I think there really are too many restaurants along here.
Mr Tandoor has vanished, a month or so ago it seemed to be shut on a Thursday night, then we saw it was shut on the following Thursday, this week there’s a new Indian restaurant in its spot with different staff … maybe I should go in and ask them if they know anything about their predecessor, which some friends of mine say they can remember visiting back in the 1980’s.
The Dover Hotel Richmond has had a major rebuild; no longer a casual scruffy corner pub, they’ve gone all up-market, polished timber and bright lights, gastro-pub meets wine-bar sadly it now reminds me of the Bridge, the Vine or Spargos. The regulars all seem to have moved up the road to the Spreadeagle.
Saragossa has closed too; that was definitely a favourite, a restaurant that when it opened sometime around 2000 I thought would never last — wrong side of Bridge road, I thought. Excellent food and fond memories of the waiter who suggested one night we try a Pedro Ximinez as an appropriate drink after the desert. Mr Tandoor had started these thoughts turning around, it was seeing Saragossa closed that prompted me to write all this, I guess I should keep reading through the restaurant sections of the newspaper and see whether there’s mention of staff from one place opening another.