Michael Nadra opened his first solo restaurant Fish Hoek (later Fish Hook) in Chiswick in 2005 after a stint as a sous chef at La Trompette, and jobs with chefs such as Stephen Terry and Bruce Poole. In 2010 he has reverted to cooking meat as well as fish, and put his name over the door. The simple dining room is in two main parts, with tables without tablecloths, fairly closely packed. In September 2012 Mr Nadra also opened a restaurant in Primrose Hill.
The 24 page wine list offered choices such as Tyrells Pinot Noir 2008 for £25 for a wine that you can buy in the shops for around £7, the excellent Torres Mas La Plana 2004 at £65 compared to a retail price of around £22, and a relative bargain at the upper end of the list, Michael Gros Vosne Romanee 2004 for £102 for a wine that will set you back about £90 to buy. Bread is from the capable Exeter Street Bakery, with slices of white and brown bread as well as black olive bread and rosemary bread (5/10). Side dishes were £3.50. I have had several meals at the restaurant and it is of a consistent standard. At a recent meal here I enjoyed a good salad and nicely cooked venison with triple cooked chips, followed by capable tarte tatin, all 4/10 standard. Here are more detailed notes from a meal in September 2010.
There were around half a dozen choices of starter and main course, with a tasting menu at £42. Starters are £8.50, main courses mostly £17 and desserts £6. An enjoyable amuse-bouche was salmon tartare with a little crostini for texture; perhaps a little more seasoning would not have gone amiss (3/10). A starter of seared yellowfin tuna with soft shell crab tempura with king prawn dumpling was accompanied by an Oriental salad. The tuna was lightly cooked, the tempura had reasonable batter (though the tempura restaurants in Tokyo won’t be too nervous) and there was a fresh oriental dressing for the leaves (4/10).
I enjoyed a trio of quail: poached, confit and tempura with a little sweet potato puree, mixed leaves and a sherry sauce that was a nice balance to the meat and the sweet potato (4/10). Fillet steak from Scotland was cooked medium rare on a bed of good spinach, with an onion puree and a nicely controlled sauce poivrade (4/10). I was impressed with the triple-cooked chips, which Heston has popularised and here were very nicely made (6/10).
Chocolate fondant had a rich liquid centre with salted caramel to offset the richness, with a good quality vanilla ice cream (4/10). Also enjoyable was apple tarte tatin, made from Cox apples and with pastry that seemed to made from scratch, with a cinnamon and calvados ice cream (4/10). The only slight let down was rather poor quality coffee, which is easily fixed. I think Michael has found his stride here, the cooking feeling to me more assured and natural than at Fish Hook. The cooking was of a consistent standard and the bill (£82 a head, but with pre-dinner drinks and a good wine) not cheap but fair for what arrived on the plate.
Below is a review of Fish Hook in March 2009, by way of comparison.
This is a neighbourhood Chiswick fish restaurant that has been established for many years, originally under the name Fish Hoek, showing its South African origins. The dining room is casual, with very small bare tables and a slate floor. White bread was rather stale (0/10). Starters are £8.50, mains £17, side dishes £3.50, desserts £5.50. The wine list is quite extensive at 16 pages, and includes choice such as Trimbach Riesling 2006 at £33 for a wine that costs about £9 in the shops, the excellent Torres Mas La Plana 2003 at £57 for a wine that will set you back around £23 in the shops, and Shafer Merlot 2005 at £75 for a wine that costs around £24 retail.
A starter of tuna was a trio of mini-dishes: a tuna spring roll was quite crisp, while tuna sashimi with soy, shiso and wasabi worked well, with refreshing dressing, while tuna tartare had a little cress salad (3/10). This was more successful than slightly watery fish soup, which was garnished with mussels in their shell and featured pieces of salmon and, scallops (surprisingly, given their cost). This was at least properly made, but needed a stronger stock in my view (1/10).
Dover sole was nicely cooked and of good quality, served on the bone, with a slightly bitter salad (4/10). John Dory was, by contrast, overcooked, served with a red wine jus and, oddly, a baby gem salad (I am never convinced about putting a cold element on a dish that is intended to be hot). A better idea was an accompaniment of a gratin with raclette potatoes, and Alsace bacon (2/10 overall). The bill, with a £33 wine, was still £106 for two for two courses and no side dishes, which is really the only issue; this is quite a lot of money for what is being delivered.