High Road Brasserie is the downstairs restaurant of High Road House, and unlike its upstairs compatriot it is open to non-members of Soho House. It is an all day venue and, ever since its opening, has been wildly successful, with people crammed in from breakfast through to dinner. The décor is simple and there are lots of outside tables on the pavement of the busy High Road. There was a fairly short wine list, with fewer than 50 wines priced from £20 to £175 with a median price of £43. It was a mostly but not entirely French list, with some descriptions that were ambiguous in places (naming the region rather than the grower). Example labels were Barbera Amonte 2012 from Piedmonte at £25 for a wine that you can find in a shop for £7, Whispering Angel 2012 from Provence at £45 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £19, up to grander selections such as Antinori Tignanello 2010 at a reasonable £105 given that it costs £65 retail.
Chicken liver pate (£7) had quite smooth texture and a decent level of offal flavour, served with toast (12/20). Crab and avocado on toast (£9) was very simple but featured a respectable amount of crab, and the avocado was ripe (12/20). Bread was bought in and pretty basic.
Flat iron chicken (£15) came with a half of lemon as garnish, a crust laced with capers and rosemary and a chicken jus served in a separate dish. This was fine, the meat lacking much flavour but enlivened by the capers (12/20). Fine beans (£4) were actually undercooked, but French fries (£4) were tolerably crisp and properly salted (11/20). Sea bass (£16) with caponata (aubergine stew) was correctly cooked, the fish doubtless farmed rather than wild but perfectly pleasant. The celery and capers in the caponata made up for the overly soggy aubergine (12/20).
Apricot tart (£6) had reasonable pastry and the apricots had about the right level of sharpness, though they were not the highest quality fruit that I have encountered (12/20). By far the best dish of the meal was passion fruit crème brûlée (£6), with a nicely crisp but not burnt top, good custard and plenty of fruit flavour; this could have arrived from a much grander kitchen (14/20).
Service was fine. The bill came to £98 a head, but that was due to a bottle of Ruinart. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical bill for three courses and coffee would come to around £65 a head. High Road Brasserie clearly has its formula right: pavement seating, appealing, simple menu, tolerable prices and friendly staff. Objectively it is far from a bargain for the level of food that actually arrives, but it is clearly delivering what an awful lot of people want.
Further reviews: 12th Dec 2010