The Ealing Park Tavern has a large dining room and garden as well as the main bar area, and feels like a local place rather than a gastro destination. The wooden floor generated a lot of noise despite the high ceiling, and with two fairly large groups in the dining room it was hard to hold a conversation. The menu is firmly British, and seems to change regularly to reflect the seasons. The wine list has a few dozen choices and started at £15.50. Selections included Tooma River Shiraz Reserve 2010 at £18.95 for a wine that costs £6 in the shops, Chateau des Gravieres Prestige from Graves at £26 for a wine that retails at £11, and Rioja Vina Cerrada Reserva 2005 at £34.95 for a wine that will set you back £12 to buy. The bread is bought from the nearby Northfields bakery, and was adequate, and charged extra at £1.50.
Rainbow trout (£6.50) was served cold with seasonal Jersey Royals, and a salad of radish and sorrel. The salad was fridge-cold but the potatoes were fine and the trout reasonable (11/20). My smoked mackerel pate (£6.50) was served with toast, apple chutney and a separate and to me rather superfluous dish of beetroot. I liked the paté, which had proper mackerel taste, and reasonable seasoning (12/20).
Haddock in beer batter (£11.50) was served with hand-cut chips, crushed peas and tartare sauce. The fish was cooked properly but the beer batter was rather limp and pale when crisp and golden is the ideal (11/20). The chips, though double-cooked so never as crisp as triple cooking will achieve, were nonetheless quite good (13/20). I also tasted a dish of linguine with mussels (£8.95) was served with creamed leeks, garlic chilli and a white wine sauce, and had competent pasta.
Lemon curd tart (£4.95) was served simply with crème fraiche and a garnish of lemon and lime candy. The filling had a decent amount of lemon flavour and the pastry, while it would not be winning any awards in France, was fine (12/20). My dining companion ate strawberries (£4.95) that were offered with a lavender panna cotta and short bread. Double espresso coffee (£2.60) came in an unnecessarily miniature portion.
Service was fine today (far better than my previous experience here). The bill, with tap water only, came to £28, and here is the issue I have. This was lunch time, and for £25 I could buy a three course lunch at more than one Michelin starred restaurant in London. It is hardly excessively expensive here, but nor is it much of a bargain given the level of cooking, which is between 11/20 and 12/20.
The notes below are from a meal in January 2003.
A gastropub near a parade of shops, a five minute walk from South Ealing tube. The pub is now divided in two, with the bar still pub-style, offering a few “tapas” that are actually bar snacks like charcuterie and cheese. The other half is now a dining room, sub-divided further into two parts. The menu is on a large blackboard and the kitchen is visible from the larger of the dining areas. The menu is short. I started with a mushroom risotto (actually listed as a main course, but they were flexible). This had rice with good texture made with proper stock, though heavily over-salted even for my taste (12/20). A “half pint of prawns” were served in a beer glass, just plain, cold prawns in their shells (11/20).
For main course, my friend had the risotto, which was served with a couple of spears of asparagus. When ordering, we were curious as to where they found asparagus at this time of year, so asked the waitress. We got the priceless reply: “well, they are probably from Israel, as that is where we seem to get our artichokes from”. I looked for the merest flicker of irony as she said this, but there was none – she really felt that Jerusalem artichokes come from Israel, so why not for the other vegetables? My main course was maize-fed chicken, served with a mushroom veloute atop a rosti with some red cabbage. The chicken had plenty of flavour and was nicely cooked, while the rosti and red cabbage had excellent texture and taste (14/20).
Espresso coffee was fine, as was peppermint tea (12/20). Service, Israel jokes aside, was fairly dire. One of our two waiters appeared to be on drugs, and he was not the one who was geographically challenged. Bread was white sliced, but seemed home made. Curiously it lacked salt, despite the over-salted risotto. The wine list is an anachronism – entirely French, mostly around or under £20 a bottle i.e. just where the New World is strong. Not a wise plan for the wine list.