Here at home we'll play in the city
Powered by the sun
There’s something about being close to water that makes people smile. Walking along the Hackney branch of the Regent’s Canal on a fine February lunchtime even an old curmudgeon like me was caught out exchanging inane pleasantries with passers-by
Passer-by:It is, isn’t it ?
Me: Have a nice day
Passer-by: You too
Better still, the walk had a purpose, to have lunch at Water House the new restaurant by the people behind the Acorn House. Now, I haven’t been to AH before but HS had and he told me good things about it. How, even though it was all ecologically sound, it still served up good food.
I have to admit after my recent experience at a new restaurant - where the commitment to sustainability seemed less than heartfelt and where they still couldn’t serve up a decent meal after all the hype – made me a bit sceptical. I needn’t have
Water House - so named because place basically runs on water – is open all day for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. The choice at lunch was a bit curtailed because some supplies hadn’t turned up but what I had was very good.
A plate of antipasti had some beautifully smoky brandade, excellent, creamy, buffalo mozzarella and a selection of fine salumi (salami, copa) from La Fromagerie – all served at the correct temperature. What the plate lacked in presentation it more than made up for in taste and generosity.
Steamed Cod (when was the last time you saw steamed fish on a menu ?) was precisely cooked so that the flesh had just turned opaque and came with more of that lovely brandade, kale and a very well judged beurre blanc.
There were only a couple of desserts on offer at lunch but the Chocolate Torte was textbook stuff: a good quality chocolate layer with a crisp pastry base. The black pepper ice cream provided an unexpected kick although maybe the hand on the grinder was a bit over-enthusiastic.
All the eco stuff is well and truly in place at Water House. So the kitchen uses Scottish hydro-electricity, restaurant temperature is controlled by mixing flows of hot water and cold water from the canal, waste from the kitchen is all recycled, vegetables are stored on shelves so negating the need for walk-in fridges, filtered tap water is available and there’s lots, lots more.
What’s great is that you’re never aware of any of this when you’re in the restaurant. There’s no great big mission statements posted up anywhere, the menus don’t hector, there’s no books to buy (although you can get the T-Shirt). One of the co-owners, Jamie, was happy to answer any questions I had but apart from that they’re just shutting up and getting on with it. Other restaurateurs, please take note: you can save the planet and still eat well.