|The Old Station House|
Liz Vercoe discovers a great place to meet and eat
I’ve often met friends for an end-of-work-day relaxing glass of wine at the Old Station House in Grove Park. We’d settle in to its big squishy brown leather sofas for a good old natter before heading back home to put evening meals on the table. But I’d not actually eaten there.
Sometimes passing the bar’s windows on the way from Chiswick Station later at night, they seemed to throb with heavy bass which sounded fun but didn’t seem to equate with my favourite sort of leisurely eating.
How wrong I was. The Old Station House, it turns out, is big enough, and big hearted enough, for both quiet conversation over dinner and music and laughter. In fact, their invitation to try their menu turned out to be a revelation.
Beyond the swing doors of the main entrance, past the smokers’ refuge, is a fine looking traditional bar that’s more brasserie than pub. To the right is where you can relax with a drink or a bar meal; to the left partly screened from the main room is the restaurant area seating about 40.
The décor of this former station hotel is largely Edwardian influenced, with lots of dark wood blended with mirrors and modern lighting. It’s the most recently developed venue in the Housebars group that includes Notting Hill’s Garden Bar and Westbourne House. And it’s got style.
At 8 o’clock the dining area was quite busy with couples, a family or two with younger children just finishing their meals, and what looked like groups of friends and business acquaintances. The music from the far end of the room was very much music in the background.
Once our bottle of “soft and smooth” red was opened, a Sicilian Legato Nero d’Davola at £17 and the nearest thing to a “house” wine, we settled down to study the long menu.
The Old Station House is designed to be an eating destination and has three chefs enabling it to serve food all day from breakfast, and includes a children’s menu with such things as home-made fish fingers and popular pasta plates (two courses £3.95).
The dinner menu includes seven daily specials alongside its “Classics” such as Country style sausages and mash with caramelised red onions and gravy (£9.50), a free-range cheeseburger, fries and salad (£10.95),and salmon and smoked haddock fishcakes with salad (9.95). A neighbouring table was sharing a large vegetarian meze platter at £11.95.
First courses range from soup (roast pumpkin with crouton and parmesan, £4.95) to bruschetta with grilled halloumi cheese, roast peppers and mixed leaf salad (£6.50). We opted for kidneys on toast with shallots and Worcestershire sauce at £6 and creamed chestnut mushrooms on toast with baby spinach, poached egg and mixed leaves at £6.50.
They were both totally delicious and virtually a meal in themselves. The kidneys were soft and juicy and delicate in flavor. In fact I would have thought there was sherry in their Worcestershire sauce! The toasted bread was light and crusty. My creamy mushrooms were flaked with tender spinach, making a lavish variation of oeufs Florentine when the softly poached egg spilled over them.
For our main courses we chose linguini with tiger prawns, chilli, garlic and tomato concass (£11) and grilled lamb chops with crashed new potatoes, roast red onions, feta cheese and rosemary pesto (13.95). Both were on that day’s specials list but you’d hope they’d return often.
The linguini was a winning combination of tastes, textures and chilliness: the prawns pink, white and sweet, the chilli just hot enough to add an afterglow to each mouthful.
The lamb was served pinkish and fall-off-the bone on a bed of the most delicious potatoes we’d tasted in a long time. Forget “crushed” potatoes, these had crashed into the feta cheese and onion and exploded all the flavours in the process.
Protesting briefly that we were far too full to eat another thing, we decided to taste the sticky toffee pudding and ice cream and apple crumble and custard, £4.95 each. I swear that Busby’s, the famous Chiswick pharmacy opposite, could sell that toffee pudding as having healing properties it was so moreish. The crumble, once you delved under the custard, was a perfect mix of sharp apple, sweet custard and crunchy crumble.
Criticisms? The floor in the Ladies needed a more frequent sweep and the group’s website wasn’t up to date when I checked it. But these admin problems aren’t stopping the chefs do what they do best…and that’s cook.
Our three courses and bottle of wine came to £64.35, plus £8.05 12.5% discretionary service added to the bill.
The Old Station House, 2 Grove Park Road, Chiswick W4 3SG
Reservations 020 8742 2555 or email email@example.com