|Al Fresco Dining At Its Best|
Napa's terrace proves a welcome respite from bustle of High Road
It’s an English trait, out comes the sun, out comes our pale skinned limbs and all thoughts turn outdoors as we make the most of the sunny weather knowing full well it could end at any moment. I had planned to have supper with a friend who was visiting from much warmer climes, greatly amused with my fixation with eating al fresco.
The High Road was heaving not just with locals who shared my desire to make the most of the warm evening but with the innumerable tables and chairs that had found their way outside onto the pavement.
Traffic belching out exhaust fumes, people crammed into spaces so small it was a wonder they could use their cutlery and the scene completed with exiled smokers. “Sorry Em but this is madness, isn’t there somewhere less exposed we could go?” my friend asked.
We wound our way along the High Road up to Chiswick Moran Hotel where their Napa Restaurant has a decked terrace. Set back from the road and shielded with tropical foliage, one could fool themselves that they were somewhere other than W4. “But why would you want to?” queried my friend who was then informed in no uncertain terms that she was not able to have it both ways.
Whilst it is customary where she lives to eat in hotel restaurants, it is less common, indeed almost a rarity here in London which is a challenge for Napa. Although the menu attempts to cater for pretty much every type of visitor be it in the hotel or a local diner, Chef/Patron Wayne’s style of cooking offers traditional favourites with a modern twist. “The emphasis is on the quality and traceability of seasonal produce, in fact, the availability of seasonal produce is the driving force behind the menu,” explains Wayne.
We chose beef carpaccio, rocket, Parmesan & truffle oil £8.50 and fresh Dorset crab, spiced avocado, fresh tomato dressing £7.75 to start. Little can go wrong with carpaccio and little did Dorset crab on the other hand is more of a challenge and Wayne’s did not disappoint, it was like Summer on a plate.
We both went for fish as a main course, my friend opting for fillet of cod, crushed new potatoes with fresh peas and chorizo £16.50. “Oh I don’t think I can finish all of this,” she said repeatedly as she cleared her plate. I chose the pan-fried seabass, brown shrimp & samphire risotto with lemon oil £17.50. I’m fussy when it comes to my seabass and again Wayne’s wasn’t a let down, the dish was quite simply delicious.
To finish, at Wayne’s insistence, we shared a dish of vanilla ice-cream with Pedro Ximenez sherry (all deserts £6.00). After a few polite “oh no I couldn’t possibly” and “no no you finish it” the gloves were off, it was only because we were in public that we stopped short of fighting over who would lick the bowl (she won’t thank me for telling anyone else this but she’s safely back in India now so can’t get me!).
Add to the mix a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, the evening proved a thoroughly enjoyable respite from the bustle of the High Road.
June 1, 2010