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[London, Chiswick] The Devonshire - review

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Harters May 22, 2008 11:33 AM

I was well set up not to like the Devonshire.

Firstly, I don’t like Gordon Ramsey’s public persona. There is no place for bullies in my life (or, of course, if it’s only a act and he’s really a sweetie, then there’s no place in my life for tossers who pretend to be bullies).

Secondly, there was all the faff just trying to get a table. They have an online enquiry system. I enquired. I got a response saying someone would contact me. They didn’t. I threw my dummy out of the pram and booked somewhere else. I also sent them a snotty email. This produced an apology and an acceptance of my booking. Plans to meet a mate had fallen through so we agreed I’d now come on a different night. Then, last Friday, they rang me up to check that I was still coming. For heavens sake, it’s not his Michelin starred place. It’s a bloody pub.

Thirdly, it’s nightmare to find anywhere to park in Chiswick. I’d gone round and round in circles so much that even the “sat nav” was confused. I wasn’t well disposed as I walked through the door.

Eating doesn’t get under way very well either. Bread arrives. Two slices of undistinguished white sliced. They had been sitting around on a plate for far, far too long and could have played a starring role in the old British Rail sandwich jokes. Whereas the butter was fridge hard.

Starter of asparagus, poached duck egg and wild herb salad. Four good spears served cold and crisp. Egg was egg and also served cold. And there was nothing “wild” about the “wild herb” salad – parsley, mint, chives and dill. A good mix, although flat leaf parsley is a bit of a chore to chew. That said, I liked this dish. It was well thought out and prepared.

The staff are young, friendly and deliver their service in what might be described as a leisurely style. But not half as leisurely as the kitchen. It takes over 20 minutes from my starter being cleared to the main arriving.

But for lamb as good as this, I forgive them. Just. Herb crusted lamb, pea puree, lemon rocket salad. A few softened cherry tomatoes and halved caperberries add garnish but little more. A side order of proper non-sloppy mash – the best restaurant mash I can recall. Everything just worked!

Dessert described as “cold summer chocolate pudding with raspberries & vanilla ice cream". Instantly forgettable – except it will be a while before I forget that when they say “raspberries”, they mean “three raspberries”. Chocolate ganache sat on a disc of something bready and topped with the ice cream. Not very chocolatey. Not very vanilla-y.

But, warts and all, I enjoyed this meal. It’s the sort of food you want to eat in a pub. Except, of course, this isn’t really a pub. It’s a restaurant in a building that used to be a pub and which still has some of the trappings and artefacts. But there’s no group of locals swigging pints of Fullers at the bar. In fact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t see the pumps being used at all. There’s not even groups of locals sipping their G & T’s (Gordons, of course)

Bill was just over £37 including for a bottle of water and 12.5% service charge.

John