Chewing over Chiswick High Road

The Chiswick High Road is littered with restaurants, but when you come to look at them closely you cannot help but be disappointed that so many are from the high street chains an endless succession of Caf? This and Bar That is enough to suppress the doughtiest appetite. The High Road must be some kind of proving ground for such places because they are shoe horned in, often side by side, faux French bistros jostling with coffee palaces as far as the eye can see. Long, long ago he opened the Brackenbury in Hammersmith’s rather twee Brackenbury Village (the restaurant is now owned by the people who have Kensington Place). The Brackenbury was a wild success. Good food, rustic food, original food, fresh seasonal food, and amazingly cheap. The Chiswick was Robinson’s second venture and now he also has the Salt House in NW6 and a brand new gastro pub, the Bollo House, which is in Bollo Lane, W4.

The food at The Chiswick is notable. Very rich, very stylish, but still with a simple seasonal tone. The menu changes constantly. Starters may include a well made Caesar salad (4.50) with fine, strongly flavoured anchovies (none of your wimpy pickled boquerones here); a beetroot soup with horseradish cream (4); or half a pint of Poole prawns with mayonnaise (6.25). When available, the dish of saut?ed hedgehog mushrooms on brioche toast with a poached egg (5.75) is stunning, a rapturous combination of flavours and textures.

Main courses also have a delightful peasant feel to them spinach and ricotta cannelloni with a tomato sauce (6.75); salt beef hash, fried egg and mustard sauce (8.50); a large salad of duck confit, bacon, croutons and capers (10). Ordering roast cod, braised Savoy cabbage and pancetta (10) brings a large, precisely cooked tranche of fish on a delightful, savoury cabbage stew. And a saut? of calf’s sweetbreads and foie gras (14.50) comes on a hunk of brioche and with a very delicious Bordelaise sauce enriched with bone marrow. The side dish baldly referred to as chips and a?oli (2.50) is worth a detour. Giant chunks of potato with the skin left on (what Yankees would refer to as cottage fries), crisp outside, mealy inside and with a pot of garlicky a?oli to dip them into very good indeed.

There are British cheeses to follow (5.50).

There’s an enlightened wine list, half of which comes in at under 20 a bottle. And tempting puddings: poached plums and pannacotta (4.50), the pannacotta just perfect, lots of vanilla, creamy textured, not too firm and not too flabby a difficult thing to get right. Or there’s a redcurrant cr?me br?l?e or ginger ice cream.

The Chiswick has prospered by offering seasonal produce and good cooking at modest prices the set lunch costs 9.50 for two courses and 12.95 for three. How about smoked herring with beetroot salad, followed by pan fried grey mullet with caramelised endive and a vanilla sauce, followed by orange and almond cake with yoghurt sorbet, followed by coffee, all for 12.95? How can the horrid faux French chains compete with that?

The Chiswick, 131 Chiswick High Road, 020 8994 6887

Where else to eat on the Chiswick High Road

Foubert’s sprawls along the road and is by turns hotel, nightclub and restaurant. Ignore everything but the ice cream parlour. There are 22 kinds of homemade Italian ice cream, cheap jerseys including London’s best cassata.

There’s a friendly atmosphere here, with service and decor to match. This branch is part of a small chain of hamburger joints that does a surprisingly good job: large burgers, good fries, low prices.

Part of a chainlet of half a dozen or so Silk Spice restaurants scattered across town. Serves sound Thai and Malaysian food. The menu seems to go on for ever, but thankfully prices are restrained.

This newcomer certainly looks the part. The menu makes much of the provenance of ingredients, so we have Lyme Bay cod and Dorset crab can they take on The Chiswick head to head?

Good, cheap Thai food is served canteen style here, so prepare to share your table.

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