Church Road Barnes

Silver Award
££££
Modern European

Church Road Barnes
Church Road Barnes
Church Road Barnes
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SquareMeal Review of Church Road Barnes

Silver Award

We’ve always been big fans of Elystan Street in Chelsea so we’re happy to report that this makeover of Sonny’s in Barnes transports Elystan Street to Church Road – a destination for restaurant lovers marooned south of the river by the closure of Hammersmith Bridge.

Key players have been drafted in from Elystan Street. Head chef Sam Astley-Dean was Phil Howard’s sous at the Chelsea restaurant, while front of house Alan Parry was assistant general manager. The pair have ensured that Church Road hums with the well-deserved confidence you’d expect from a restaurant backed by Howard and Rebecca Mascarenhas, who also have Gezellig and Kitchen W8 to their names.  

But while Elystan Street’s signature dish is present and correct – a deliriously rich double-baked Cheddar soufflé which tastes as much of cream as cheese – this is very much Astley-Dean’s menu, albeit one that sticks to Elystan Street's elegant template of modern European ideas executed with seasonal British ingredients.

To start, fat coils of handcut strozzapreti, entwined around crumbled sausage and butternut squash and scattered with chilli and Parmesan, keeps its butch flavours in a careful balance, while burrata with rocket pesto, torn figs, red onions and olive oil transforms what is often the blandest of cheeses into an ingredient worthy of a starring role.

A Tamworth chop with sweet and sour plums, meanwhile, elevates the usual pork and fruit combo with superior ingredients, expertly timed to maximise flavour, while the accompanying pomme purée is good enough to be a main course in itself.

Things only went awry for us when the kitchen veered away from Europe with charcoal roasted prawns, masala sauce, aubergine, cucumber, yoghurt and radish, in which the parts seemed greater than the whole. We had no such complaints, however, about brown butter biscuit with salted caramel roasted nuts, malted ice cream and lime – like a very grown-up sundae – or a cheese plate of three perfectly ripe specimens.

Even allowing for such accomplished cooking, prices seem more SW3 than SW13, though a meat-free lunch and early-evening Little Sprouts menu (£22) serves up three courses of produce that might otherwise go to waste, with £2 from every meal sold donated to the Friends of Barnes Common.

Comfy leather chairs, properly set tables and kind lighting make up for a rather sombre colour scheme that seems better suited to the small bar at the front than the dining room behind. Cocktails and bar snacks (including that soufflé) would make for an alluring distraction from dissecting the latest releases at the Olympic cinema over the road.

Mascarenhas opened Sonny’s in 1986 to bring seasonal cooking and sophisticated neighbourhood dining to south-west London. We’re sure that Church Road will have an equally long and happy life.

About Church Road Barnes

Restaurateur duo Rebecca Mascarenhas and Phil Howard (who own Chelsea’s Elystan Street and have played a part in several big-hitting London restaurants) have replaced their beloved neighbourhood gem Sonny’s Kitchen with this modern British restaurant.

Seating 60 diners, Church Road’s interiors are inspired by the glamour of the 1950s, which translates as linen-draped tables and comfy chairs finished in aubergine-coloured leather. The Venini-style chandelier in a shade of soft pink adds to the retro sophistication, while a communal table for solo and walk-in diners stops the room from feeling too fussy.

The kitchen is headed up by chef Sam Astley-Dean, who was most recently sous chef at Elystan Street. The menu relies heavily on seasonal British produce which is sourced as locally as possible. Church Road takes provenance seriously, using sustainably farmed fish and free-range meat in its dishes, as well as offering a three-course, meat-free Little Sprouts menu which aims to tackle waste. The menu uses ingredients which would have otherwise been discarded, whether that be a misshapen vegetable or an undersized egg. For every Little Sprouts menu sold, £2 will be donated to a Barnes community project centred on food.

The menu evolves with the seasons, but dishes you may come across on the à la carte include a sweetcorn and clam chowder with a clam and chorizo crumpet, and chargrilled monkfish tail with roasted late summer tomatoes and pesto. Desserts, meanwhile, may see a plum and almond tart, or port-roasted figs with baklava and fig-leaf ice cream.

Church Road also benefits from a bar at the front of the restaurant, which serves a selection of cocktails that make use of seasonal nectars and syrups, as well as the sort of well-chosen wines and Champagnes that Mascarenhas and Howard are famous for. The bar snack menu also changes often, but includes snacks such as cashew nut hummus with crudités and a curry dressing, or a double-baked cheese soufflé with leeks and mushrooms.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cuisines
Modern European
Ambience
Dark and moody, Lively, Quiet conversation, Romantic
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch, Sunday roast
Special Features
Vegetarian options
People
Birthdays, Celebrations, Dates, Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating

Location for Church Road Barnes

92-94 Church Road, Barnes, London, SW13 0DQ

020 8748 0393

Website

Opening Times

Lunch
Mon 12:00-14:30
Tue 12:00-14:30
Wed 12:00-14:30
Thu 12:00-14:30
Fri 12:00-14:30
Sat 12:00-14:30
Sun 12:00-14:30
Dinner
Mon 18:00-22:00
Tue 18:00-22:00
Wed 18:00-22:00
Thu 18:00-22:00
Fri 18:00-22:00
Sat 18:00-22:30
Sun 18:00-21:00

Reviews of Church Road Barnes

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2 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Peter A

A Barnes triumph
30 October 2019  

I can't remember ever going out for dinner on a Sunday night, so it's fitting that the first time I did was so memorable.  I realise that I've already been rather superlative about this restaurant with my ratings, but honestly, it was all completely delicious and great fun. The food is imaginative and looks as good as it tastes... and it's seasonal.  Greedily, I had a starter, main and pudding with some lovely Viognier.  My companions were as smitten as I was and, if I lived in London, I would make this my regular Sunday night haunt.  Bravo to the team - the atmosphere is relaxed, service is knowledgeable and charming and the lighting was moody enough, but I was still able to read the menu... an absolute must in my book.  I shall be returning to Church Road as often as I can.

Food & Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Helen Thomas

Same Old
27 October 2019  

We went to this restaurant recently, as a local of Barnes and knowing Sonny's well from previous years of being disappointed and experiencing its yo yo attitude to its clients, service and food and it hasn't changed a jot except for the decoration.  Sonny's had been up and down for 20 years, mainly down.   The menu is limiting, the attitude is one of studious arrogance again,  it is expensive compared with Riva which it really should not be considering the difference in quality.   It is clear people are giving it a go again, but I am certain this will slow down to a trickle again as we have seen so many times when this restaurant has had some sort of makeover.   Very disappointing.

Food & Drink
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