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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Sophie’s Steakhouse – Chelsea

A recent Sunday lunch at Sophie’s Steakhouse in Chelsea revealed it to be a noisy family affair with swarms of children flying around. I adore kids, but if you’re looking for a quiet relaxing Sunday lunch, the Chelsea branch of Sophie’s Steakhouse might not be the best place to head. The fact that service wasn’t at its most efficient didn’t help either. The restaurant could probably have done with more front-of-house staff.

We kicked off with some pan-fried king prawns (6) with chilli & garlic (£14.95) which were of a decent quality. But the prawns were under seasoned and not particularly garlic-y.

Pan-fired king prawns

Pan-fired king prawns

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Harwood Arms – The Return

The first time I went to the Harwood Arms (click here to read about that meal), I was bowled over by both the wonderful quality of the food and the very reasonable pricing. Resident Harwood Arms chef Stephen Williams trained under Brett Graham at The Ledbury which now holds two Michelin stars. So while the Harwood Arms may be a collaboration between Brett, Mike Robinson from The Pot Kiln and Edwin Vaux from the Vaux brewery, it resonates with Brett’s trademark cooking. It’s little wonder then that the Harwood Arms won its first Michelin star earlier this year.

With its new star rating, bookings have gone through the roof. Its focus has switched solely to the food, and so it’s dropped the gastropub label. There is still a bar area at the Harwood Arms, but this is mainly used for pre-dining aperitifs with casual pub drinking now being frowned upon.

My last visit to the Harwood Arms was over a year ago, and ever since then I have yearned for their wonderful venison Scotch egg (£3). A perfectly cooked runny egg encased in beautifully seasoned venison meat and coated with crispy breadcrumbs delighted once again. However, from memory there use to be more meat to be had.

Scotch egg

Scotch egg

Scotch egg

Scotch egg

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Marco at Stamford Bridge

Foie gras terrine

Foie gras terrine

The last couple of meals that I had with LD (at The Cadogan Arms and Le Café Anglais) proved to be somewhat unsuccessful. This seemed to have the effect of putting a dent in my ‘restaurant choosing capability’ as this time round she suggested (insisted) that she pick the destination for our next meal out. With a sniff, I agreed. I obviously don’t get it right all the time, but I like holding the mantle of ‘restaurant picker’ amongst my friends, even if it is self-bestowed, and it isn’t a title that I wanted to relinquish easily.

So this is how, at LD’s suggestion, we ended up at Marco at Stamford Bridge (sniff). The restaurant is a collaborative effort between Chef Marco Pierre White and as you might have guessed, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. The restaurant has the look of money behind it. The room is filled with leather cubicle seating and glamorous black and white photographs of celebrities from a bygone era. It’s dark and decadent, and if cigars were allowed, I would have almost hazarded a guess that this was an old-fashioned gentlemen’s club house.

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Harwood Arms

Wild rabbit starter for two

Wild rabbit starter for two

I suffer from a disposition that I call ‘geographical disorientation’, an affliction which I liken to not ‘knowing’ where something is. It usually strikes when I am trying to remember where I have last parked my car, and most inconveniently when I am in a desperate hurry to go somewhere. I usually can’t remember, a debate ensues, which ultimately results in me having to guess. Living smack bang in the middle of my street, there is roughly a 50/50 chance that I have parked the car either to the left, or to the right of my flat. But it is not unheard of for me to occasionally guess wrong, which means that I invariably have to walk back on myself. Sigh – what to do?

The situation wasn’t particularly different when, over coffee the other day, I was trying to tell a foodie friend of mine, D, that the next restaurant on my agenda was the Harwood Arms in Shepherd’s Bush. ‘Oh no, it’s in Fulham’, she said. ‘No, I’m pretty sure it’s in Shepherd’s Bush’, I insisted, and so it went. But now that I have actually been to the Harwood Arms, the consequence of which was that I had to drive to, umm, Fulham, and not Shepherd’s Bush (and this was after finally locating my car), I now have no option but to swallow my words and admit to D that she was correct. Sigh, what to do?

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