Dinner At The Chiswick Moran Hotel

A review of the new Summer Menu at the Napa restaurant

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Chiswick Moran Hotel 626 Chiswick High Road, London W4 5RY, Tel: 020 8996 5200, Email: napa@moranhotels.com


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The Crown Moran Hotel is often seen as a business hotel because of its proximity to the Chiswick Business Park, but it is also popular with local people for family celebrations, or as a base for visitors attending sporting events, particularly rugby matches.

I have often recommended the Moran, which is part of an Irish-owned chain, to friends and family members who are in London for a weekend and they have all been very happy with the modern rooms and the quality of the food in the bar and restaurant.

However, as a local, I am so spoiled for choice with restaurants along the High Road, that the hotel’s Napa Restaurant does not immediately spring to mind when thinking of where to go for a meal in Chiswick.

However, after a recent visit for dinner, I can say with some conviction that there are many positives to be gained from going that little bit further up the High Road.

The decor in the hotel is modern and contemporary, and a turn left inside the main door at the reception area, will bring you into the Globe bar which also serves food and has recently expanded its menu.

On the right is the main dining-room, where head chef Wayne Dixon has created menus for express lunch, a la carte, or fixed-price evening menus (two courses £19, 3 courses £24).

He also recently added some new dishes to the main menu to give things a summery twist- starters like watercress soup with pesto, beetroot and goat’s cheese brushetta, and seared woodpigeon with raspberries, sounded intriguing, as did the introduction of Turbot, and new season lamb onto the selection of main courses. These are in addition to what the menu offers as ‘ Classic Napa’, dishes, such as Caesar salad, beef carpaccio and rocket, salmon fishcakes, pork belly, and beef Wellington.

Mozzerella and Mediterranean vegetables

The dining-room was a peaceful oasis from the buzz of the High Road, and although there was a private party in the Globe Bar, the noise did not stray into the restaurant. We chose to sit at a table for two by the window at the front of the restaurant.

For starters I chose pan-fried scallops served with baby gem lettuce, broad beans and pancetta (£9.00) while my husband chose Buffalo Mozzerella, grilled mediterranean vegetables and balsamic dressing (£7.50).

Scallops are a tricky thing to get right, overcook them and they are rubbery, undercook them and they taste awful, so it was with relief that I discovered they were perfectly cooked. The addition of broad beans gave some crunch along with the lettuce and tangy dressing. My husband’s starter was beautifully presented and tasted delicious.

For mains we both opted for the Turbot, although we were assured the lamb was very good too.

Had the turbot (served with crushed new potatoes, samphire and sorrel butter -£ 18.50), not been on the menu I could have chosen from Mackerel fillet, with soy glazed courgettes and rhubarb, or tuna loin with grilled vegetables, two vegetarian options (asparagus and pea risotto, or braised artichoke hearts with mushrooms and hollandaise). Or indeed we could have gone for simply grilled steaks (8 oz rib-eye £18.50, sirloin at £19, or fillet at £26 ) with a variety of sauces. Other grills included pork cutlet, chicken breast, fillet of salmon or fresh tuna (£15.50).

There were also several other options, including salads, and those options from the Classic Napa menu such as salmon fishcakes, Beef Wellington, Pork Belly or smoked haddock with Savoy cabbage and bacon.

The side dishes were priced at £4, and included spinach, creamed cauliflower, potato gratin or rocket and parmesan salad.

The turbot was lovely and fresh, and the fillet served over the potato and surrounded by the buttery sauce. We had asked for mashed potato instead of crushed new potato and ordered a side of spinach. It was a good combination.

The staff were attentive throughout the meal and I was glad to see the restaurant had gluten-free bread available for coeliacs.

To drink, we ordered a bottle of Santa Puerta Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from Chile, at £17.00 a bottle (£4.60 for a 175 ml glass). This was a fresh Chilean offering which went down very well with the fish and with the starters.

The white wines start at £17.00 and there are thirteen bottles on offer, ranging from Pinot Grigio, Vouvray, Reisling, Chablis, and ending with a Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc Duclaux 2006 at £49.50 or a Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, 2011, New Zealand , at a eye-watering £54.50.

There were two Rose wines on offer , one, (Pinot Grigio) was also available by the glass, and for the red wines, nine bottles on the list ,ranging from the cheapest, a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon at £17.00, to a Merlot and a Temprenillo, both under £20, and ranging upwards in price to a 2006 St. Emilion at £26, a Mersault (2003) for £45, or a Chateaneuf du Pape ‘ Duclaux’, at £50.

Champagnes were £45 for a Saint Evremond, and upwards to £62 for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and Cristal 200 champagne priced at £295, which would indeed be for a very special celebration! Or there was the option of a bottle of Cava for £23.50 at the other end of the ' bubbly' scale.

We could have opted for the evening Dinner Menu which was very reasonably priced at two courses for £19 and three courses for £24. For that you get a choice of three starters (soup, or bruschetta of tomato and goat's cheese, or smoked salmon salad) and then a choice of three main courses (chicken breast with chorizo and leeks, Pollock with warm nicoise salad, or wild mushroom, spinach and sun-dried tomato risotto), and three desserts ( Eton Mess, brownie with chocolate sauce or fruit salad). That menu changes on a daily basis.

Vanilla Panacotta

Dessert was a truly difficult choice for me – would I have the vanilla icecream with the Pedro Ximenez sherry, the baked figs with sweetened mascarpone and brandy syrup, the Eton Mess, or the vanilla panacotta with Raspberry Compote?

Having been so very well-behaved and had two healthy fish courses, it was time for a little leeway on the diet. It had to be panacotta and when the moulded vanilla-speckled wobble arrived, surrounded by the compote, and fresh berries, I knew I had made the right decision. My husband thought longingly of chocolate fondant than shrugged and ordered the fruit salad.

A three course meal for two, with a bottle of wine and service charge comes to just over £100. If budgets are tight, it would be possible to have a two-course meal and glass of wine each, plus service charge, for just over £50. And the Napa also do a Sunday carvery lunch which is popular with local families.

Anne Flaherty

July 28, 2012