SAM'S BRASSERIE: THE RIVINGTON'S WEST LONDON TWIN
A working lunch with my chum, Alan, head of the group who handles all of our sales. I am sure he is busier that I am so I was, er, happy to schlep across town to Chiswick ( I understand that this is still considered London although it seems an awfully long way) where his offices are situated close to Barley Mow Passage and Sam's Brasserie.
This relatively new restaurant is, I believe, co funded by Rick Stein and the eponymous chef, Sam used to cook at The Seafood Restaurant. It has had excellent reviews recently from Giles Coren ( never mind, I was still willing to give it a try ) and The Evening Standard and Sam is still very much in full effect at the front of house which is good to see.
My first impression when we walked into the very welcoming space is that it reminded me of The Rivington Grill in my own neighbourhood. An impression that was reinforced when I saw that the menus were printed on the place mats and even the design of them ( wines listed down each side with the food listed in the middle.) was similar
The recognition factor continues when you start to read the menu with dishes like "Roasted Wood Blewits" and "Battered Pollack" on the menu which have a similar feel to that on the menu created by Mark Hix. To be fair, there are also a lot of dishes that would never appear at The Rivington and plenty to choose from on the Lunch menu.
The service was efficient but ever so slightly officious and not hugely knowledgable ( when I asked what exactly was on the "Spanish Charcuterie Plate" I was told it was "spanish cold meats. Probably, ham and Salami" why thank you!)
To begin with, I ordered a "Sam's Terrine with onion marmalade" I think terrines are often a good test of a chef's intentions and this certainly passed muster. Dense and chunky with slabs of liver and a lovely bacon surround. It worked well with the caramelized onions.
Alan tried "Beetroot soup with Creme Fraiche and Chives" which he seemed to enjoy.
While we ate these, were were offered some rather non descript bread. Did nothing for me at all.
For the main course, I ordered a " Bavette Steak with Mustard and Parsley" This is where I get slightly cross with servers in restaurants. I wanted some Dijon mustard with my steak. I know it comes with some mustard on it, but I wanted more. I like mustard. So I don't want my server to start making lifestyle choices for me and denying my mustard privileges. I AM FORTY TWO YEARS OLD. GIVE ME MY DAMN MUSTARD. Anyway, he did, reluctantly and I rather enjoyed my dish, extra mustard and all. The meat was rare as promised and had a great taste.
Alan, went with " Sauteed Black Leg Chicken with Morels and Cream" It all looked rather rich for a lunchtime dish, but he cleared his plate.
It being Spring and all and with the Sun beginning to work its way through the clouds outside, I went for the first of what I hope will be many glasses of Rose this year and we both ordered a glass Chateau de Sours. Harmless enough which is, I guess, the way of the rose.
The bill including tip came to £61 which is about fair for two courses, two glasses of wine and two teas. They did, by the way, ace the mint tea test.
A lot of thought has gone into the lunchtime menu and I think most people would be hard pressed not to find something interesting to try. I am not sure that I would choose to traipse across town just to go there, but, if I lived in this neighbourhood ( never in a million billion years ) or was out here for another meeting with Alan, I would definitely not have to be dragged kicking and screaming.