BUMPKIN: RUS IN URBE IN SW7
South Kensington. What a hole eh ?
Populated (increasingly sparsely these days)by American and French Bankers - although their mothers probably think they’re ok - it’s for those people who would like to relocate to Mayfair but can’t afford to. Consequently the only other people who aspire to live here are the country cousins down the road in Fulham.
The sheer awfulness of the place is only ameliorated by the large number of soignée, limpid eyed French Femmes sashaying all over the place. Very nice.
The other thing they aspire to around these here parts is a nice little place in the country and if they can’t have that then what better than to bring the countryside to SW7. Hence, Bumpkin the new sister restaurant to Bumpkin in Notting Hill. And true to their word (“For city folk who like a little country living…”) they theme up the place to the max, even down to playing Country & Western music. Country. Geddit ?
Once past the noisy bar the main restaurant at the back is all warm and woody and encourages ensconcing oneself, eating some fine English food and downing a few flagons of wine.
The reality wasn’t quite like that. A starter of Devon Crab was good and fresh tasting but would have been improved with a bit more chilli to give it some extra oomph and a bit more crab would have been welcome as well. And why no dark meat ? Probably because the kitchen ate it all.
Black Pudding with Apple is a classic combo but the addition of Leeks didn’t really improve it. There was a nice deep-fried nest of the allium on top of the dish but at the expense of too-thin slices of the pudding which had been baked to dryness. Leaving the skins on the Apple strikes me as a bit lazy as well.
Whole Plaice reminded me why I rarely order fish in restaurants – most of them can’t cook it properly. Bumpkin was no exception. The fish tasted fine but it was overcooked to mushiness. A great shame. Chips however, were proper and ace.
Homemade Ice Creams becomes “Fresh Churned” here. Are they the same thing ? Who knows ? They were very good, though especially the espresso one. I yearned for a wafer or tuile to accompany my ices, but then I’m odd like that.
With this setup (Fish, Barrels, you know the deal) I was predisposed to absolutely loathe the place. But, astonishly I didn’t. Bumpkin’s view of the countryside does seem a little sanitised: the menu is from the more polite end of the British food spectrum and the cooking on their first night of opening was erratic. But the raw materials were fine and the prices not too frightening given the location.
Most of all, the sheer cheeriness of the whole operation: from the greeting, through the excellent service and ending with a nice farewell, was such that it even got through to an old curmudgeon like me. It’s probably more than South Kensingtonians deserve.