Posts for the 'South West London' Category


The Henry Root

Our visit to The Henry Root was a bit of a surprise visit. We were meant to be eating at Elleven Park Walk, an Italian restaurant (on 11 Park Walk in West Brompton), but a power failure at the restaurant meant that we turned up only to discover that there was no food to be had. The restaurant was nice enough to comp us a glass of champagne for the inconvenience, but thereafter there was no point staying. 11 Park Walk use to be the home of Aubergine, a Michelin-starred restaurant that closed in 2010. I had a disastrous meal at Aubergine in 2009 and it was just as well it closed as it seemed to be on its last legs. Two times unlucky. This address must surely be jinxed for me.

Anyway, that is how we ended up at The Henry Root which is right next door at 9 Park Walk. Named after the pseudonym of writer and satirist Charles William Donaldson, The Henry Root must be the most darling of neighbourhood restaurants that you could ever hope to come across. Homely and cosy are the words that immediately spring to mind when you enter The Henry Root. Warm subtle tones run throughout the restaurant which is wonderfully light and airy. Good use has been made of the space and the dining area feels quite roomy.

The menu was a more accomplished read than I had initially expected. I thought its style would be more café-type food, but instead we were presented with dishes like seared scallops with grilled chorizo, roasted red peppers and sweet basil (£10). The scallops were beautifully cooked, and there was a real depth of meaty spicy flavour coming through from the chorizo. However, the chorizo was a touch overpowering against the delicacy of the scallops. The peppers were also well done, proving to be soft and sweet.

Seared scallops

Seared scallops

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Fox and Grapes

Ludlow in Shropshire is a gorgeous country market town which at one point boasted of more Michelin starred restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the world. One of these included Hibiscus before Chef Claude Bosi relocated the restaurant to London (Mayfair) in 2007. A brave move many said, but it seems to have worked out just fine for Hibiscus. Not only did Hibiscus regain its second Michelin star which it lost when it first moved, but it also now holds a place in The San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurant’s Awards.

With Fox and Grapes, Bosi makes another mark on the London dining scene. Brother Cedric manages the day-to-day while Patrick Leano, formerly the sous chef at Hibiscus, runs the kitchen. The site of an old London inn on Wimbledon Common, the gastropub retains many original features and is lovely and quaint.

It was hard to think that Fox and Grapes would be any ordinary gastropub given its affiliation with Claude Bosi. That said, the mains on the menu were fairly uninteresting (sausage and mash, gratin provencal (ratatouille), mutton moussaka, pollock, chicken, and steaks, etc) and not as inspirational as it could have been given the Michelin-starred status of the gastropub’s patron.

We kicked off with some bar snacks including a wild boar scotch egg (£4.50) which gave way to a runny yolk centre. But the boar meat, whilst well cooked and decidedly gamey in flavour, was too peppery.

Wild boar scotch egg

Wild boar scotch egg

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Enoteca Turi

Enoteca Turi is a family-run Italian restaurant in Putney which specialises in regional Italian cuisine. Opened by owner Giuseppe Turi in 1990 (hence the name), this restaurant is still going strong after two decades, and can be considered something of a Putney institution given the proliferation of chain restaurants which have emerged on the High Street in recent years. Giuseppe can still be seen walking around the restaurant floor, and you know pride and care has been placed into every detail of the restaurant. I have eaten at Enoteca Turi before and enjoyed the food very much. This time around I dined as a guest of the restaurant.

A classic Venetian dish of smoked haddock mantecato (£7.75) was lovely. Similar to a pâté blended with a little olive oil, it wasn’t particularly smoky, but the fish flavour was rich and distinctive. It was accompanied by a trio of polenta crostini with pepper, cauliflower and green beans topped with polenta crisps. The polenta crostini was a little dull, but the red peppers were sweet, and the cauliflower and green beans were cooked al dente. The beans had been finished with a drizzling of some fantastic homemade pesto.

Smoked haddock mantecato

Smoked haddock mantecato

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The Glasshouse

Whenever a restaurant bears the name of Nigel Platts-Martin, you know you will be assured of quality and consistency. With a string of well-known critically acclaimed restaurants, Nigel, a former lawyer turned restaurateur, seems to have that foodie magic that guarantees success. His restaurants include The Square, The Ledbury, Chez Bruce, La Trompette and The Glasshouse, the latter three which he owns with Bruce Poole, chef of Chez Bruce. What is also notable about these three sister restaurants is how reasonably priced they are. Even though all three establishments bear a Michelin star, prices have been kept at are around the £40-£45 mark for three courses.

A recent visit to The Glasshouse (£34.50 for two courses, £39.50 for three courses) saw me start with the grilled mackerel and miso, oyster dressing, shiso leaf and crispy squid. An inspired sounding dish, it did little to live up to expectations. The mackerel was well cooked, but the skin tasted slightly burnt. The miso sauce, a combination of miso, uzu, sake and mirin, had a nice flavour, but was extremely rich, as was the oyster dressing made with oyster sauce, iceberg lettuce, oysters and mayonnaise. The combination of these two heavy tastes overwhelmed the fish, drowning out its natural sweetness. I love shiso, but rather than being used as a garnish, it was buried under the oyster dressing which left this beautiful herb soggy and bereft of the exotic aroma that it usually exudes. Japanese food is about the clarity of flavour and the cleanliness of the palate. Here I found a heavy and muddled dish that didn’t quite live up to its Japanese inspirations. There was good technique here if you analysed each of the components individually, but the dish as a whole was flawed.

But as a saving grace, the wonderful accompanying crispy squid – a mixture of squid, prawns and mushrooms wrapped in nori and a wonderfully crispy, pastry – was divine. I would have happily had ten of these and forgotten the rest.

Grilled mackerel

Grilled mackerel

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Wallace & Co

Note: This restaurant has now closed.

Wallace & Co.

Wallace & Co.

Wallace & Co is the new cafe/restaurant (opened about three weeks) undertaking by Greg Wallace of Masterchef fame. You know, the self-proclaimed “cooking woman’s crumpet”. The happy chappy with the shiny skull and the big booming voice, who along with John Torode, came up with some rather memorable (or depending on your viewpoint – laughable) turns of phrase on the show. Wallace & Co is located in Putney, rather than the more competitive locales of Central London, and it looks the part of a wholesome neighbourhood restaurant. It’s cosy, airy and spacious, and decorated in warm green and beige colours, it feels so homely that you can’t help but want to go in and sip a cappuccino or two.

The centrepiece at the front of the restaurant is a huge wooden table, littered with scrumptious looking baked goods. There is also a take-away salad bar, and, something that should come as no surprise, vegetables for purchase (Greg is a wholesale greengrocer after all – his business is called Secrett’s Direct). Behind the front section is the split level dining area.

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Terroirs Wine Bar & Restaurant – A Little French Magic

Selection of charcuterie

Selection of charcuterie

At first sight, Terroirs – a small French wine bar and restaurant – would not appear to hold the secret to anything special. But the moment you enter this homely eatery, you know you will be treated to a dining experience that will resonate with you, for its simplicity belies a Gallic menu filled with some flavoursome, earthy eats. Its head chef is Ed Wilson, whose CV reads with time at Orrery, The Wolseley, Galvin Bistro de Luxe and Sonny’s. Not all dishes work, but those that do are simply superb. And the pricing is surprisingly reasonable given its location in the West End.

But my biggest disappointment with it is that the food has the potential to defeat you. Take the example of my first visit to Terroirs. By the time the two of us had finished the platter of charcuterie and two side plates, we couldn’t make it to the main course for we were already full. How was this possible? And here I was, thinking that I was something of an eating machine with a limitless capacity to chow my way through each course. Fearing that I would be unable to provide a well rounded opinion without having sampled the mains, I gladly went back again. Or at least that was my excuse. Therefore this write-up is based on two separate visits, both within two weeks of each other.

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