ANOTHER PLEASANT HERMANO SUNDAY: RANSOME’S DOCK
Another meal South of the river and, it should be said, a damn fine one.
I am not sure why we thought of going to Ransome’s Dock. Sure, we have had three pretty good meals before there, but I always thought of it as being quite expensive for what it was and it has been at least two years since we last made our way down across the bridge to Battersea.
Still, HP seemed up for it and, after a short tube journey to South Kensington, we fought our way through the rosy cheeked, collar up throng and across the river to arrive at the restaurant right on time for our 12.30pm table.
It really is a lovely room, light and airy, simple furnishings, but comfortable with good size tables. The service is just as welcoming.
The whole operation reeks of professionalism. That seems a strange thing to say as one would hope that all restaurants would aspire to a level of professional competence. But, when you eat out as often as DH do, you realise, all to clearly, that the level of skill both front of house and in the kitchen often leaves a vast amount to be desired. HP’s recent redux at The Marquess Tavern is a perfect example of a place that either gets the food right or the service but has so far failed to yield a decent level of both at one sitting.
Ransome’s Dock just gets it right. Unstuffy service, food that, while breaking no culinary boundaries is eyebrow raisingly tasty and thoughtful and a wine list that is both well priced and interesting enough to make DH drink far more than is good for us.
While we looked at the menu, we managed two 20cl bottles of La Gitana Manzanilla and left just enough left to go with our starters.
HP went for a mixture of duck and chicken livers cooked in sherry, Served slightly pink they shrieked of good provenance and considered preparation. I had a chicken liver parfait which came with toasted bread and a pickled shallot. Both dishes excellent examples of very straightforward dishes that are all too easy to bugger up.
We shared one more starter. Two courgette fritters which looked a little unattractive but were crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside as shredded courgette had been mixed with a mild goats cheese.
For main courses, HP plumped for wild rabbit which came with red cabbage and sweet potatoes. The rabbit was a revelation. Not for the way it was prepared which was in a classical, creamy, mustard sauce but because of the rabbit itself. The depth of flavour was astonishing and as different from the farmed rabbit I normally find as I am from, er well any man that any woman might find vaguely attractive.
My belly pork cooked in Pedro Ximinez came on a thick stew of pardina lentils. The taste of the pork had not been smothered by the PX and retained a layer of fat which also has a toothsome crackly top.
We shared a bowl of crucnhy chips. Cooked perfectly. That’s what I mean by a proper kitchen. A proper kitchen is one that can do good chips. So there.
A bottle of 1997 York Ridge Petite Sirah was well priced at £37 and suited both dishes. Af first, slightly too tanic, but softened in the glass so the vanilla note came through.
Puddings at Ransome’s Dock are over priced but well made or, in the case of HP’s selection of Roscombe ice cream, well scooped ( but £6!). My banana split was, as good as you are likely to find in any place where the waitress is not on roller skates. Dessert wines of a Malaga ( dark syrupy Moscatel from Andalucia ) and Muscat both suited perfectly.
Slight disappointment on the tea front. I asked if they had fresh mint tea and was assured they did. They did not as they brought me a bag. Ho hum, but increasingly the case these days. Coffee was declared “ excellent” don’t drink coffee so didn’t really care.
Did care for another drink though so we finished with a grappa for HP and a 5yr old Somerset brandy for me. We may have to have a few days on the wagon after this weekend, but it is worth every kidney grumbling moment.
The drink obviously fired a few of the little grey cells in HP as he had a storming brainwave that we should make cards with our logo on like West Ham’s Inter City Firm which we should leave on the table after a meal which just read “ you have been visited by Dos Hermanos” Oh well, It made me laugh.
Two hours after we arrived, we left. £145 lighter ( inc service ) A lot, but that represents our capacity to drink and order extra starters rather than the expense of the restaurant. Other diners came and went while we did "the works" and had one or two courses, a glass of wine and could easily have got out of there with a £50 bill for two.
I did not begrudge it. I think this is a very solid restaurant with a kitchen that seriously and quietly gets on with it. No muss, no fuss. A very agreeable place indeed.
Afterwards we both fancied and needed a stroll. A stroll that turned into a route march as we walked in the increasingly hot weather back to base in London’s fashionable East. I am guessing about seven miles. En route, we got a little peckish, well you are bound to, no? So we stopped off at Yauatcha for some hot chocolate and a cake.
All very disappointing and a marked couterpoint to our lunch. Service was, quite frankly, up its own arse. The cakes were OK, no more and the hot chocolate weak and watery. I did not hate the chocolate as much as HP who described it as “disgusting” but it really was not great.
I took a picture of the attractive display of cakes and was told in no uncertain manner that “ we have a strict policy that no one is allowed to take pictures” As HP said we should have told them we have a strict policy of not paying the best part of £20 for vile hot chocolate and blah cakes. I guess they don’t want a pictorial record of all the miserable faces in there, particularly of the staff.
After fighting our way through the throngs of fans ( mainly Italian ) in SOHO, we were soon back at home, feet up, papers in hand and ready for the game . For some reason or other, England don’t seem to be in the final. Strange that.