Sam Harrison's Ten 'Roller Coaster Years' In Chiswick

Plans for outdoor seating, a refurb and a new menu

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As summer approaches Sam Harrison is still waiting to hear when he can proceed with pedestrianising the area outside his restaurant in Barley Mow Passage. Despite receiving the final go-ahead in February, he is awaiting news from Hounslow Council about the next step in the process and it's proving frustrating.

But having returned to work recently after some months away, he says he is looking forward to celebrating ten years of Sam's Bar and Brasserie in Chiswick this August with a update of the premises, and the introduction of a new menu.

In an interview with the restaurateur recalled the "roller coaster of a career" that has taken up so much of his passion and energy.

"I have worked with amazing and incredible people over the years. It sometimes it feels like yesterday we opened and in other ways 100 years ago!"

The 'ups' included winning awards like Time Out Best Local in London 2006, Evening Standard Best Value Restaurant in London 2008, but the 'downs' included the pressure of competing with chains in Chiswick, while paying high business rates, which has taken its toll.

"We have had very tough times, especially through the recession where we had to fight just to survive. The pressure, stress and strain affected my back and health and I ended up having to have back surgery. But I still get the buzz from a busy night and seeing a 150 happy faces."


Barley Mow passage

Sam’s Bar and Brasserie will be 10 years old in early August and will be having a refurb and an overhaul of the menu. He hopes part-pedestrianisation of Barley Mow Passage can be introduced at the same time- the idea he first mooted three years ago in a bid to bring a 'Continental feel' to the street, and also to help his business. Permission has been granted for enough table space for twenty-four covers for six months of the year, from April to September. But the restaurant will also be getting a makeover inside.

"I am really pleased with how well the original design has lasted over the years and still think it looks great. But after 10 years it is time for a change and it is time to freshen up the look, the design and the feel. I am really excited about the plans and think it will give Sam’s a sexier and sleeker look.We will also be updating our food and drink offering. I want Sam’s to stand out as the best independent offering in Chiswick."

The restaurant will be closing during the work from Monday August 18th for 2 weeks.

Life continues to be difficult for those running independent local businesses and many restaurants and shops in Chiswick have fallen victim to the recession in the past few years.

"We are competing with many chain operators who have lower overheads than we do. Everything they buy costs less than us and therefore then can offer charge less. But luckily for us there are many customers in Chiswick who value what an independent local offering can bring to the table and are very supportive."

A plan of how the restaurant might look with outside seating

Along with a refurb of the interior there will be changes in the menu but the details are still being worked out, with mentor Rick Stein helping with the content.

"When we started 10 years ago, I wanted our menus to be based on sourcing the best possible ingredients and then creating simple and tasty dishes. The new menus that we open with after this refurb will have that same ethos, but will have evolved to show how tastes have changed over the last 10 years. I am not a great one for following trends, I believe that well executed food will always work."

May 28, 2015