This neighbourhood bistro, which opened in August 2012, is where David Escobar, previously head chef at Cassis, has decided to strike out on his own. The 30 seat restaurant is in a parade of shops in Pitshanger, an area that an estate agent might ambitiously describe as “North Ealing” but is actually a mile west of the Hanger Lane roundabout. This was a Thai restaurant prior to the takeover. It was decorated in simple bistro style, with wooden floor and even that bistro cliché: red and white cheque tablecloths. The wine list was minimalist, from £15 to £32 in price, with just under a dozen basic wines on offer, such as Louis Jadot Macon Village 2011 at £21.50 for a wine that you can buy in a shop for £9. Fortunately corkage was available at a generous £4.90 a bottle, which is the way that we went. White bread was from a local baker and was harmless enough, though hardly exciting (11/20).
Onion soup (£5) was rather watery, though had reasonable seasoning (11/20). The terrine of foie gras and pork knuckle (£7.50) was a rustic country terrine, tasting much more of pork knuckle than foie gras and served with toast and grated Emmenthal cheese; this was pleasant (12/20). Crab mimosa (£7) served in hard-boiled egg halves on a bed of lettuce was fine, though not a patch on the version that David used to cook at Cassis. Finding crab shell amongst the crab meat did not help matters (12/20).
The best dish of the evening was rabbit (£13) with tagliatelle and a mustard sauce. The pasta had good texture, the rabbit was not dried out, and the sauce had a nice hint of mustard (easily 13/20). Desserts were £5 apiece. Apple tarte had pleasant pastry but the apple was rather dried out (12/20). Iles flottantes had decent meringue and quite nice custard (12/20). Ice cream is apparently normally made in-house, but not tonight due to a faulty Pacojet in the kitchen.
Coffee was really poor quality, cheap and bitter (10/20). The bill came to a modest £28 a head, though we had brought our own wine. Service, led by the Belgian manager and I think the co-owner, was good. Perhaps I had overly high expectations of this evening, having eaten David’s food previously in a much more ambitious context with a much higher budget. Here he had just a commis chef and a kitchen porter in the kitchen, and has clearly aimed at a modest level with ingredient quality. To be sure, the prices were low, and I was not expecting a fine dining experience, yet somehow the whole experience felt to me as if the chef was sleepwalking: the shell in the crab, the terrible coffee, the basic bread. Objectively the food was decent and certainly not expensive, but this is a chef who is capable of much more.
RT @Richardvines: Richard Caring has confirmed he is to take on the former Revolution site in Richmond to open a second site for Scott’s, P…