Quantus- Chiswick's Best Kept Secret
Eclectic neighbourhood restaurant impresses reviewer Anne Flaherty
Quantus is tucked away along Devonshire Road, almost hidden in that parade of shops and restaurants and it is a little gem.
It’s nearly two years since its owners Leo and Enes created their version of a modern restaurant with a South American influence. In those two years its reputation has grown by word-of-mouth and it is now quite a popular local spot. Several friends had recommended Quantus (taken from the Latin for 'how great' or 'as great as') and I was looking forward to my visit.
We arrived on a mid-week night and it was good to get into the cosy interior while the wind and rain were howling outside. There was a large group of people seated at a long table towards the front of the restaurant so I was pleased to be shown a table two towards the back and away from the chatter.
The interior blends retro and modern styles. There are open brick and white walls, black and white photographs on the walls, a profusion of Moroccan-style pendants cast a warm glow and the addition of candles, funky cushions, beautiful crisp table linen and enormous wine glasses add up to a cosmopolitan ambiance. The bar was towards the front of the room. It is not a large space, maybe seating about forty people in total and when we visited it was not full, there was still a feeling of privacy.
We were greeted warmly by Leo and quickly presented with sparking water, menus and a welcome glass of bubbly. The menu’s South American influence comes from chef Juan Zuliani from Buenos Aries, and he has added little touches from his home country to many of the dishes- cilantro and lime are used frequently to add flavour.
I opted for the gambas and chicken al tuco (chargrilled) on saffron rice with cilantro and lime wedges. My husband chose the roasted pork belly with lemon, parsley and garlic crust, served with carrot and thyme puree and balsamic reduction.
Other starter choices included a sweet potato and basil soup with parmesan and red chilli oil; a grilled duck salad with beetroot and leeks, tomato confit , peanuts and orange dressing. There was a pumpkin and spinach malfatti with mushrooms and roquette pesto, or pink-seared tataki salmon served with fennel, radish and ginger confit and green Bangkok sauce.
My gambas dish was a mini paella, the rich earthy saffron flavour mingling with the crisp sharpness of cilantro and lime. There were chunks of chicken sitting on the rice which had been chargrilled and then added separately to the dish. It was delicious.
The pork belly was beautifully presented and the crispness of the skin contrasted with the sweet pork meat. The carrot and thyme puree added a seasonal element. It was a small enough portion to be perfect as a starter and could easily transform into a main dish if it came as a larger portion.
We were told that all the meat, fish and vegetables are provided by our local shops in Chiswick.
There were seven choices on the Mains menu, a fish, two types of beef, lamb, chicken, pork and a vegetarian offering.
I opted for roasted cod (above) with a puy lentils broth, served with wilted spinach and gremolatta, a grated lemon zest with parsley and garlic, usually used as a garnish. My husband chose the beef casserole –though I though the slow-cooked lamb Patagonia with malbec, mashed potatoes and peperonatta sounded more interesting if he wanted a warming stew.
Other interesting options included a breaded chicken stuffed with chevre and leeks, served with green beans and a creamy truffle and garlic sauce; orechiette pasta with stilton, asparagus, radicchio rossa and pangritata; a Macken Brothers steak; and a Dijon-brushed pork filled with roasted apples and turnips served with Guinness, sweet tomato and green peppercorn sauce.
I thought the menu was full of variety and an ambitious blends of flavours. Only a very confident chef would think of combining stuffed chicken with truffle and garlic sauce or Guinness with sweet tomato and green peppercorn sauce?
Before the mains arrived I was advised to add an extra dish so I chose potato gratin (an extra £3.50). The other choice of side dishes were mashed potato, garlic beans and homemade bread with balsamic oil ( £2.00). Quantus bake all their bread on the premises.
My fish was beautifully cooked through and very fresh. It was presented on the top of the lentils, though to be honest, I found the lentils a little dry. The spinach was nicely wilted, and of course it pairs perfectly with cod.
The comment on the beef casserole (pictured above) was; “Delicious flavours, lovely and warming. I would just recommend they cook the meat a little longer to give it more of a melt-in-the mouth texture."
We had sparking water to drink and I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc to go with the fish. The wine list contains an list of French, Italian and Chilean whites and there are some Argentinian reds available. Individual glasses of wine are priced between £4 - £9 and there are cocktails available.
By 8.30 to 9 pm the restaurant was beginning to fill up, mostly with couples. The soft lighting and mellow ambiance means that Quantus is popular for romantic meals. However, it is equally at home with large group outings, and I would have no hesitation returning with either a female friend or with children. You can feel equally at home dressed up to the nines, or arriving in jeans.
The desserts were fairly standard fare. An apple crumble with vanilla ice cream; lavender crème brulee (above) with raspberry sorbet; a “canchera mess” of dark chocolate mousse served with dulce de leche, banana and berries; a cheeseboard and finally a choice of Italian gelato and sorbet. I felt this selection didn’t mirror the ambitious heights of the two previous courses and although perfectly acceptable I would have liked to see a more adventurous selection.
I opted for the chocolate mousse, which comes in a tall glass, layered with the sliced banana and dulce de leche (pictured below)It was very nice as was the crème brulee- the raspberry sorbet was a particularly good combination of sweet and tart flavours.
Quantus is currently running an offer of £21 for two courses, and £25 for three courses on its supper menu. From time to time it runs additional offers so it is worth keeping an eye out for those.
I enjoyed my meal at Quantus and would definitely return. I think the ambiance which is created by the personalities of the owners and staff give it that personal touch which is so often lacking in chain restaurants. Despite the fact that it is across the road from La Trompette, Quantus has its own style and I predict it will remain a favourite of Chiswickians for a long time.
38, Devonshire Road, W4 2HD
0208 994 0488
Mon-Sun dinner 1800 - 2300
Weds-Sat lunch 1200 - 1500
November 28, 2012