Geales is relaunched

Saturday, June 23rd , 2007

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Geales has been a Notting Hill fixture since the second world war, and has just changed hands and been revamped by the people who own Embassy in Mayfair. Though the decor is much smarter, the relaunch as a more ambitious fish restaurant (as opposed to a simple chippie) has only partially worked. Soft shell crab was nicely cooked, served with a good sweet chilli sauce, but service was a shambles. Although haddock had good batter the fish inside was watery, and the mushy peas were, well, a mush. With prices scarcely a bargain it remains to be seen whether the operation will settle down and continue to attract regulars.

Brackenbury showed how to make mushy peas, these actually tasting of peas and being a vibrant bright green colour instead of a sullen dark green. Accompanying correctly cooked cod and following a tasty eel salad with very fresh beans, this was a lesson in how to serve simple food well. The Brackenbury’s eccentric situation at the end of a residential street in Shepherds Bush means it does not get the attention it deserves, but this is a neighbourhood gem.

Back in town, I had another fine meal at Zuma, which delivers superb Japanese food in a fashionable setting. The quality of ingredients is very high, whether served simply as sashimi or sushi, or as in classic salmon teriyaki. A starter of seared tuna with salad was cleverly laced with slivers of deep fried garlic, providing a crisp texture contrast to the voluptuous tuna. Zuma has done for Japanese food in London what Hakkasan has done for Chinese.

Salt Yard serves superb tapas, whether top quality Joselito ham, classic tortilla, or bolder dishes. They are not afraid to stray from the classics in order to take advantage of local ingredients, such as Cornish crab with seasonal baby broad beans. Service keeps up well with the constant stream of diners, and the kitchen never seems to miss a beat. I think this is the best tapas in London, and that remark includes Barrafina.