All Bar One Keeps It Casual

Revamped interior and menu makes for good night out says Anne Flaherty

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All Bar One has been a fixture on Chiswick High Road for many years. There was a suggestion last year that it was to close and become an Asian restaurant from within the Mitchell and Butlers stable but happily for local fans there was a change of heart. Instead the branch has had a makeover and changed its menu and is still very much part of the fabric of W4 life.

There was a biting wind the night I visited recently with a friend and we were glad to get inside from the winter chill. A happy buzz of conversation and music (not too overpowering) greeted us and the crowd seemed to be a mixture of those popping in for a drink after work, and groups of single women or men having a casual bite to eat.

We were greeted by manager Harvey and seated one of the round tables which were placed along one side of the room, with leather seating backing onto the exposed brick walls. The refurbishment has given a nice open feel to the room but not at the expense of some privacy. The bar has been modernised but the interior still retains the characteristic wooden floors, bright open spaces and glass frontage. The decor is contemporary, reclaimed steel tables, wooden floors, white pendants and a curious display towards the rear of the room of what seemed to be upturned plants suspended from the ceiling. There were smaller dining tables at the back of the room, and the bar with its gleaming display of assorted bottles, was quite busy for early on a Thursday evening.

The concept of All Bar One was originally to provide as a 'female friendly' bar at a time when most pubs and bars were intimidating places for single women to go and drink or eat, hence the huge glass frontage, the open plan space and the bright airy interiors. The first bar was opened in 1994 in Sutton, London, and by 2012 there were almost fifty outlets in the UK, mostly in central London.There were several groups of women sharing plates of tapas or nibbles and I was told it is very popular during the day with young mothers for coffees as there is plenty of room to park a pushchair.

Tiger prawn and Teriyaki Salmon salad

Our friendly waitress Monika was on hand to advise on the wine list and she recommended the Gavi do Gavi Minaia at £22.95 a bottle. Described as "light and fresh with a citrus bouquet", it was named after the town of Gavi in Piedmont and is regarded as the Italian equivelant of Chablis. She explained that the staff regularly attend wine courses and this was her own favourite. Well done Monika, it was an excellent choice.

The wine list was competitively priced, from a £14.50 bottle of Spanish Rose, to a Barolo for £39.95 and the white wine list included a range of Sauvignon Blancs with French, Italian, Californian, Chilean and Argentinian wines on offer. A glass of wine is about £6. The extensive cocktail list includes Mojitos, Margaritas, Daiquiris, and Bellinis priced around £7.95, all grist to the mill of a good night out with a group.

We started with the charcuterie board to share (priced at £10.50) and this was a decent portion of parma ham and chorizo, sundried tomatos , olives and bread. Very satisfying as a starter or a light lunch. Other good deals include their tapas and other sharing plates, for example the Tuesday two-tapas and wine meal for £15, and those tapas plates include salmon and prawns, fried chorizo, or halloumi skewers.

Chicken fillet burger with bacon

The mains included burgers (lamb, crab and lobster, or beef) at around £10, and the menu was a fairly typical selection similar to that found in most English pubs including fish and chips, steak, salmon fillet, curry or Pad Thai. Those mains range in price from around £8 - £15. I chose the chicken fillet burger which came wrapped in very thick bacon, served with salad and I chose to forego the bun. Celeriac remoulade was promised but its delivery took prompting and it was not terribly exciting, being smothered in mayonnaise. The chicken was a little dry and unappetitising but the bacon was very good, and the salad was fresh and varied. My friend chose the Salmon Teriyaki and Tiger Prawn salad served with roasted red peppers and fresh leaf salad. She described it as tasty "but definitely not Tiger Prawns".

Banoffee lollipops

For dessert the Banoffee Lollipops provided a quirky touch. The lollipops (£4.95)are banana icecream and you dip them into the excellent caramel sauce and crumbs. The Brownies were unavailable and I didn't fancy icecream so I opted for a Hot Choctail ( £2.45) with a dash of Cointreau. I don't know how All Bar One make their hot chocolate but it was fantastic, really rich with a velvet texture and the inclusion of alcohol made it all the more delicious. The little glass of Smarties also compensated for not having a dessert.

A three course meal for two with wine, would total around £60 depending on whether you decided to share starters/desserts. With a bit of careful choosing you could have a meal out for two for less. For example on weekdays there is a value deal of two courses for £10 including a selection from crispy calamari, tamarind chicken skewers, Thai red curry, burgers or rib eye steak (supplement of £3), and the deal includes a choice of either starter or dessert.

Breakfast and brunch are available, from £7.95 for the Full English Breakfast and a selection of Eggs Benedict, omelettes, pancakes etc.

I enjoyed my visit to All Bar One, though it is definitely not fine dining nor does it purport to be. However, it's a good option if you fancy a night out either with a friend, a group, or maybe a quick bite with a partner. Its casual, its cosy, and it's reasonably cheap.

Anne Flaherty








February 9, 2013