|Chiswick's newest gastro-pub reviewed|
The Hole in the Wall doesn't leave too big a hole in your pocket
Think of an unpromising-looking pub in an unpromising position, and you think of the old Hole in the Wall in Sutton Lane. It was the kind of pub you drove past wondering whether anyone other than those desperate with thirst from the gym next door would patronise it
Well, think again now. After being closed for refurbishment, the Hole in the Wall re-opened a couple of weeks ago as a gastro-pub. On the basis of one visit, it can give the nearby Pilot in Wellesley Road a good run for its money. On a grey Friday evening it wasn’t by any means full; but its large garden, well-equipped with tables and chairs, and quality cooking, ought to make it a venue of choice for relaxed weekend eating and drinking.
The inside is more salubrious than before, but still a bit stark and echoing. But that’s the only minus. Service is laid-back, friendly and characteristically Old Commonwealth, but it’s also efficient. Our drinks arrived with the requested jug of best Chiswick Tap, properly iced and without any of the cocked eyebrows you get in snooty establishments wanting to make a fast buck on over-priced bottled water.
We kicked off with a couple of generous glasses of South African Firefinch sauvignon blanc. Starters are around the £4.50 - £5.50 mark: butternut squash salad with feta was a good concept, the squash only fractionally undercooked; while I had no complaints about the Thai fishcakes, nicely springy and with a good crisp coating of black and white sesame seeds and a sweet chilli dip. Mains (£9 - £15) fulfilled the promise: rabbit leg stuffed with sage on a well-flavoured cassoulet of white beans and tomato. The ribeye steak was outstanding: cooked exactly as ordered and served on a bed of Puy lentils (and celery, a nice addition but – to be hyper-critical – a bit too al dente) , with a few potato wedges. Treacle tart – actually more of a treacle sponge, with a slightly marmaladey sauce – and a generous portion of well-kept cheeses rounded off the meal.
The menu is sensibly short, and well-executed. The wine list is similarly short, well-chosen and realistically priced. Our dinner, with an excellent bottle of Firefinch “What the birds left” and the white wine to start with, came to a reasonable £75 without service. This is a place well worth encouraging. They’ve not done badly in the first two weeks, but they deserve to do better. Poised as we are equidistant between the Pilot and the Hole in the Wall, the latter would win on this showing. Put the word around, and try it for yourself.
July 4, 2004