|Sam's Bar & Brasserie Excels at Dress Rehearsal|
Nick Montagu offers a preview of the soon to open restaurant
It may seem unfair to review a Chiswick newcomer on what is an avowed “dress rehearsal” but Sam’s Brasserie looks set to find a real Chiswick niche between the splendour of La Trompette and the gastropubs.
It’s very much in the modern style, with a spacious bar area and a largish restaurant (about 100 covers) beyond. The restaurant wasn’t more than half full due to a deliberate policy of controlling numbers before the official opening on the 15th August and noise levels were tolerable. Once it fills up, go for a table in the upstairs bit. The air was very much that of getting their act together, but they did pretty well, any amateurishness in the service being more than compensated by its charm. And Sam himself was much in evidence and control. It looks like an operation that will shake down into professionalism, and is already well on the way.
Food and drink reflect the times and the brasserie nature of the outfit. About nine choices at each stage, with starters priced between £4.75 and £7.50; mains from £9.50 to £16.00; and puddings from £5.00 to £7.00. A sensible wine list, with a lot of options under £20, comes from Laytons, John Armit and a local supplier. Our South African Syrah at £22.50 was an excellent and reasonable choice, as was the Aussie pink sparkler to start with at £5.50 a glass.
The execution of the food ranged from the competent to the excellent: nothing was less than good. My wife started with grilled leeks, a soft boiled egg (cooked to perfection, but served a trifle too cold) and parmesan, while my lamb’s kidneys on toast with mustard were a good robust dish: the kidneys cooked pink but not bloody and strong enough to take the grain mustard and wine sauce reduction. The braised shin of veal was excellent, the accompanying risotto creamy but with the rice al dente; so too was my potée of pork neck (superbly flavoured, and lightly brined before cooking), smoked belly and petit salé. We could only ogle the chips at a neighbouring table, having opted for a healthier salad: they looked super.
To finish with, my wife’s chocolate tart had superb pastry and a good strong filling; my cheeses were a sensible helping of three contrasting cheeses (blue, cheddar and Gubbeen). Decaffeinated espresso was exceptionally good. The bill at rather over £74 was extremely reasonable – once the discount period is over, you’ll need to up that to about £100, including service. Not cheap, but not out of the way for a good meal well cooked and presented in what promises to be a valuable addition to the Chiswick restaurant scene and less expensive snacks are available at the bar. Well worth checking out.
August 16, 2005