I'm convinced that in general terms the thing contributing most to my enjoyment of a restaurant is the food I'm served. But most important is not the same as the only thing, and certainly my memories of driving trips around France in shoulder seasons many years ago are much more about the two of us, night after night, being the only people in the restaurant with food being delivered as fast as the waiters could carry it so they could all close up and go home. I remember that years after I've forgotten what we ate.
And for the second time in a few weeks we had a lunch today that was influenced by the fact that there was only a handful of people in the dining room and in the couple of hours we were there we saw precisely one member of staff. The restaurant is within 50 yards of Chiswick High Road. Another 50 yards will see you on Turnham Green Terrace, a foodie destination. The premises are smart and decently attractive. La Trompette, normally busy, is a couple of hundred yards away at most. And the food's pretty good and reasonable value. So I really don't understand why, after a few decades of occasional walks around and eating in Chiswick, it took us till a couple of weeks ago to realise that this place existed.
In essence you have a choice between a set menu of two or three courses, or a tasting menu. We chose the former, with a choice of six dishes for each course. My starter was a light and delicate duck lasagne with wild mushrooms in a light though tasty mushroom broth. My wife chose a soup of kale, spinach and broccoli with a fairly extravagant topping, and a main of lamb two ways (plus a kofta) with rosti potatoes. All these dishes were at least competently cooked , nicely presented , and very flavoursome. The portions were sufficient without being daunting. There was a chocolate fondant and salted caramel ice cream for dessert. The house red wine ( from Rhone grapes) was nicely balanced and light enough to drink with lunch. Good bread; decent coffee. A bill for £95 including service was about right we thought. Remarkably we often feel we get better value in London than we do in Berkshire where we live. Must be something to do with competition.
Grumbles? Well it would have been nicer with a few more people around and a hum of conversation to distract from the music that wasn't to my taste. And it wasn't a quick meal. It took a while to get some bread after we arrived just after 12.30, and the in general the gaps between courses were a little longer than I'd usually expect. I did wonder a bit about what the timings would have been like if they'd been busy. Still, they weren't, and neither were we in a great hurry.
We'll go back.