|Hearty, Richly Satisfying and Quite Simply Delicious|
Elliot Road's Fish Hook will reel you in time and again
I was reading an article recently by one of my favourite food writers Tom Dorley who believed the fish he had sampled in a certain Dublin restaurant was ruined by too much “cheffing around”.
I thought this was not only a great expression but also one that could be used to describe others who don't quite get the difference between pretentious cooking and gastronomic excellence.
This however, is not a charge that can be leveled at Elliot Road’s Fish Hook or indeed at its Chef Patron Michael Nadra.
It takes a certain tenacity to set ones stall out as a specialist - in this case fish - particularly in an area like Chiswick, therefore I cannot help but admire the courage and commitment of Michael Nadra, though unsurprised that Fish Hook remains as popular as ever.
For the past two years Michael has been delighting diners and charming the critics with his imaginative fish dishes earning himself an enviable amount of regular customers. He believes this is down to the freshness and quality of the fish and other produce that he uses though I would add remarkable talent and culinary zeal.
“This is not a job for me,” he says “this is my life and I hope that passion comes through in my cooking.”
Indeed it does.
The menu consists of 11 starters all priced at £8 – the generous number intended to allow diners to sample a number of starters should they wish rather than the traditional one starter and one main - and nine mains priced from £16.
To decide upon a dish from such vast choice isn’t easy however, as my husband put it, it’s a menu that makes you want to return a number of times so you can try everything.
And it is here where I believe Michael excels – he offers something that sounds complex, even busy at times but consistently produces dishes that are hearty, richly satisfying and quite simply delicious.
Eventually my husband chose the steamed mussels with garlic, cream, Pernod, smoked ham hock and fresh herbs leaving the fish soup for the next occasion. I went for the glazed smoked eel with a potato and shallot pancake, apple puree, beetroot and horseradish cream.
For a main course I opted for the south coast monkfish with spaetzle (a dumpling-cum-pasta hybrid), roasted Jerusalem artichokes, cepe and foie gras sauce. My husband went for the sauté of scallops, squid, king prawns, mussels and chorizo with hispi cabbage and gremolata that had been recommended by a friend who had literally just finished eating it when we had arrived.
We shared a very nice Argentinean Sauvignon Blanc was well priced at £19.00 and a bottle of mineral water £2.95.
The bill came to £92.76 including service which sounded a bit steep before I realised it was not that far off the average gastro pub dinner. Fish Hook however, is anything but average.
January 19, 2008