"It's not much but it's ours"

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Can you still recall
Our salad days
Between the ivy walls?

I’m just glad HS wasn’t with me tonight - he would have had apoplexy. The tube journey to Gordon Ramsay’s new gastrogaff The Devonshire in Chiswick took about an hour and a half (I’d estimated it at about thirty minutes). I won’t go into the ghastly details but I have a theory that everyone who matters gets off the tube in Zone One. Thereafter, it doesn’t matter how long the journey takes because there’s no one left that matters left on the train. Harsh maybe but, well, it’s just a theory.

The Devonshire is the second of the pub makeovers in the GR empire. I really enjoyed a meal at the first, the Narrow, earlier this year so I was interested to see whether the quality would hold up as the ‘concept’ was rolled out. In the mood I was in I wouldn’t have had too much problem finding fault and things didn’t start out well but by the end I was won over. There seems to be a commitment to quality which seems to confound your expectations of pub dining, although as I said previously about The Narrow before this is more about dining in a pub.

First the gripes. Booking T&Cs are bizarre for a meal. In a pub. Confirmation 24hrs beforehand, written confirmation of any cancellation, two hour sittings. Any infraction attracting a £60 fine. Not really the warmest of welcomes. I could have justifiably told them to stick it where the sun don’t shine but, you know, anything for the possibility of a decent meal.

The bread was pretty ordinary and sliced so thinly it was impossible to spread any of the fridge-fresh butter. Really there was no point in serving it. Although the room was full and buzzing with the animated chatter of the petit-bourgeoisie of Chiswick there was a relentless, annoying and totally unnecessary aural backdrop of musak. I did get someone to turn it down but it seemed to creep up in volume during the evening. Stop it. Just stop it.

Now for the good things. Despite the booking system the young female staff were very friendly and did their thang with the minimum of fuss. Impressive. On the food front my plat principal of Barnsley Chop was as good as they come. A big hunk of great quality flesh girdled with a thick belt of crisp, crisp fat. The halved kidney and anchovy butter crowning the chop were probably unnecessary but what the heck, I loved them too. The meat had been cooked to that even pinkness that brings out the best flavour from larry (baaaah). A little braised red cabbage rounded off the combo nicely. Chips were the correct size, shape and texture (at last). Yet again, dear reader, I scoffed the lot.

Slightly less stellar was a rather tiddly bullet of a Pork Pie. The filling had a good flavour but it could have benefited from standing a bit more at room temperature to soften the pastry . The accompanying picallili was a nice touch but was too acidic.

Bookending the other side of the meal a Lemon Posset was suitably rich, creamy and tangy and had some very short and very lovely shortbread with it. Of course Lemon Posset is so rich because it’s made with double cream – a little goes a long, long, way. Something I forgot once when making it for friends so we ended up eating about a half pint each. Nice at the time, not so enjoyable a few hours later. Still, that’s why I go to restaurants and don’t own one.

As I found at Hereford Road those who inhabit the Western reaches of the Metropolis seem slightly more at ease with French menus than British (“What are neeps ?”) but they’ll learn and I guarantee they’ll have a good time doing so. But please, and with apologies to that great 80s group Shannon , DON’T LET THE MUSIC PLAY.

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