|Fond of fish? You'll fall hook line and sinker|
Michael Nadra makes an outstanding return to Chiswick restaurant scene
Being invited by a chef to dine in his restaurant is of course an honour. However, such an invitation does bring with it a certain amount of apprehension for one is well and truly 'on the spot' when it comes to bequeathing one's opinion.
However, in this instance, apprehension was a waste of time and anyway we were far too excited at the prospect of dining at the recently reopened Fish Hook to worry about anything else. Never having eaten in the restaurant's former South African incarnation, we went with high expectations and no pre-conceptions.
Proprietor Michael Nadra is a highly accomplished 30 year old chef who cut his teeth at some of the industry's biggest names. Snubbing the recent trend of acquiring a celebrity backer, Nadra is relying on his reputation as a first class chef and the quality and creativity of his food to promote his own venture.
And so he should. His lunch and dinner menus are a sequence of culinary creations with descriptions so enticing they render diners almost unable to choose between dishes. The astute Nadra overcomes this dilemma by offering almost all of his dishes as starters (priced from £6.00) or mains (priced from £14.00).
Nadra sources his fish from the UK, Ireland, Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean and ensures that it is delivered fresh. "Fish has to be fresh, you can't fake it. I believe in using only the high quality suppliers and ingredients, mainly from the British Isles and serving them in an informal yet thoroughly professional manner " says Nadra who buys ingredients from local suppliers Andreas Georghiou and Macken Brothers.
My husband (who was under strict instructions not to tell Michael that his food tasted either 'nice' or 'fishy') is a big fan of fish and has eaten at some of the world's top seafood restaurants but even he was stumped when it came to choosing what to eat. Therefore, we were both delighted when our host agreed to choose for us.
To start we were presented with 'prestige speciales de Claire oysters with shallot and champagne vinaigrette', a fantastic combination of raw oysters and a sharp dressing. To follow I had a rich velvety fish soup made with sea bass, squid, baby clams, octopus and shrimps and managed to also steal a spoon of my husband's velvoute of butterbeans with shitake mushrooms, chives and white truffle oil in which the intensely flavourful mushrooms married perfectly with the smooth creaminess of the butterbeans.
And just when we thought it couldn't possibly get any better, Michael produced a ragu of hand dived scallops, baby squid and octopus with tomatos, basil and roast Jerusalem artichokes. The ragu's Provencal style sauce was made by slow roasting the tomatos in the oven before pureeing giving this dish the most wonderful robustness that I had never before associated with a fish dish. My husband was completely in awe of the unusual combination of roasted red mullet with foie gras on a bed of endive finished with a sweet jus. Cooked to perfection, the partnership of the crisp- skinned meaty fish and the silky richness of the foie gras was simply outstanding.
Fish Hook's has a concise, but well planned wine list with prices starting from £12.50. The restaurant is also known for selling the cheapest Dom Perignon in London. We drank the house white (Embleme d'Argent Colombard 2004 priced at £12.50) with our meal and found it married well with our different dishes.
The Fish Hook team, manageress Johanna, Jay and the delightfully entertaining Jerome, are as charming as they are knowledgeable about the food and wines that they serve. Their affable characters add to the friendly ambiance of this wonderful informal restaurant and adds yet another reason to return to dine here time after time.
February 3, 2006