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Oct 4, 2009 02:59 PM

Hereford Road, Notting Hill/Bayswater, London

Very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food, I felt the cooking was tighter than St Johns.

Truly golden brown batter with a good crunchiness on the fried roe, a little hint of the ocean on the soft insides. Excellent deep frying. A solid, reassuring if basic tartare sauce.

Firm smoked eel, very good texture and also good contrast with the softness in the potato salad.

The salt beef was dense with tender fibres, reminded me of some cured meats at elegant Chinese restaurants from my childhood. A classic contrast with the sweetness and acidity from pickled cucumber and onion.

Both the lamb and pork main dishes play to the natural strength of the flavourful meats here, the lamb juicy and deep flavoured (although the show was somewhat stolen by the fresh sweet verdant flavour of mashed peas bolstered with spritely mint) , the pork belly moist and sticky with fat, finishing off with a crackling skin, thick but as if composed of many miniature bubbles, crispy and light, with wonderful courgettes tasting truly and deeply of the vegetable in its native sweetness.

An ok rum and raisin ice cream, fine but undistinguished.

I thought the prices were quite reasonable (mains mostly in the mid-teens), roughly the same as most gastropubs but with focused flavours and crisp cooking that exceeds the gastropubs I've been to.

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  1. coincidently i'm going next tuesday and will report back. can anyone recommend a predinner drink in a good nearby bar? i'd prefer somewhere quirky to somewhere flash, but i realise the location tends towards the latter.

    1 Reply
    1. re: alexdz

      It was very quirky when it opened (that dates me), it may have got a bit flash but it isn't far away - Beach Blanket Babylon (45 Ledbury Road)

    2. I'm a big fan of Hereford Road, it's my first port of call for lunch when I visit London. On my last visit I had a very pleasant pint in The Commander which is not too flash and very close by.

      1. Wow I must be the only person in London that doesn't rate Hereford Rd. After all the rave reviews, I was seriously disappointed with lunch there. The place is really sterile, service robotic, and the area under that turfed roof feels damp and cold. The food was decent but pretty uninspired and generally a bit limp and lacking finesse in the kitchen. I expected bravely simple cooking with hearty flavours but instead found myself sampling tough ox tongue and over vinegared celeriac, very chewy Guinea Fowl and underseasoned fish. An underwhelming experience at a substantial price. I guess it must have been an off day in the kitchen but I can't help thinking 'what's the fuss all about?'

        5 Replies
        1. re: plummonk

          I think you must have caught them on an off day. My last visit there began with beautiful sourdough which was not long out of the oven. My starter was wood pigeon salad which was perfectly balanced and the bird was very well executed-rare and full flavoured but very tender. For main course, a huge piece of spanking fresh brill came roasted with some capers and cauliflower. Espresso to finish was a good as I've had in London.
          Service throughout was very friendly and well informed.
          Hereford Road is not life changing dining by any means but I really like the freshness of the produce and the simplicity and quality of execution. It looks simple, but there is serious attention to detail required to do the simple things very well. It is also excellent value for money.
          I do agree that the room is a bit dull by the way.

          1. re: plummonk

            Nope, I've heard of other folks not liking the place as well, so you're not alone. Part of the reason why I was pleasantly surprised at the food. Might be a day to day variation, or a difference in tastes.

            1. re: plummonk

              "An underwhelming experience at a substantial price"

              Starters average £5 to £6 and mains are £12 to £13. Do you really think that is a a "substantial price" in London especially Notting Hill?

              1. re: PhilD

                Yeah , I guess I need to return because I love the simplicity of the menu and I agree with you Patricko, simple food needs attention to detail. That's why it was disappointing when I went, the kitchen made too many errors in my opinion.

                Glad I'm not the only one Limster - love your recs for asian foods btw, I've been following your trail.

                PhilD, I'm not saying it was expensive but a 'substantial' price when compared with the quality of cooking (on the day) and portion size. I would have happily paid the bill if the food had been better. Call me old fashioned but at £35 a head, I expected more.

                1. re: plummonk

                  so i went last night and had a lovely time. started with sweetbreads, parsley caper, and pearl barley salad; my date had the potted crab. The crab was lovely and creamy, the slightly burnt toast worked perfectly to mop it up. My salad was very well executed and a good amount of meat.

                  For mains she had lamb with celeriac and anchovy and I had baked plaice with fennel. The lamb was rare and the celeriac rich. Anchovies really are the best way of seasoning a dish. That or soy/fish sauce. The plaice melted in my cliched mouth.

                  Pudding was a shared damson toffee pudding, which although i couldnt really spot the damsons, was really good. Maybe the portion was a bit small.

                  As restaurants go, it's a decent price for the quality of the cooking. The service was very attentive, and it was enjoyable to sit in one of those booths and watch the chef and his assistant working away.

                  Next, I'm going to try the Giaconda Dining Rooms. I realise I'm well behind the times with these restaurants, but I've only just reached the point post-University where I can justify the cost of eating out...

                  We ended up paying 54 plus tip with two glasses of wine. This was very reasonable and i have to disagree that it's a substantial price, particularly given the location.