This opened in mid 1999 and finally brought classy cooking to this prosperous but culinarily challenged area of West London. Just yards from Kew tube station, the triangular restaurant has floor to ceiling glass windows and modern décor. It is a sister restaurant to La Trompette, the Ledbury, Chez Bruce and The Square. The new chef at the Glasshouse (since spring 2010 is Daniel Mertl, who was previously sous-chef at sister restaurant La Trompette. Bread is partly made from scratch (excellent walnut and raisin bread and pleasant white bread) and partly bought-in – sourdough from Poilane (15/20 bread, more for the walnut and raisin slices). The wine list was quite extensive and has good global coverage, as well as some rather inconsistent mark-ups. Cuvee Anna “Castel Turmhof” 2008 was listed at £36 compared to a retail price of around a tenner, Chateau Monregard La Croix 2002 was a slightly costly £75 for a wine that costs about £21 in the shops, and Ribolla Gialla 2004 was £75 compared to a shop price about £23. Chateau Trotanoy 1998 seemed to me the bargain of the list at £170 for a wine that will set you back slightly more than this retail.
The chef’s background showed in the starter of seared loin of tuna with salad of radish, coriander, soy and sesame, with a single tempura prawn as garnish. The tuna was nicely prepared and the salad excellent, the leaves fresh and the dressing well balanced and refreshing. I am not sure what the tempura prawn really adds here, but this is a fine dish (16/20). This was better than steamed paupiette of sea bass and Cornish crab with mussels a la mariniere. For me there were too many elements to this dish, compounded by the mussels not being properly cleaned, with several pieces of grit appearing: sloppy (13/20).
Another old favourite from La Trompette was the poulet noir with potato gnocchi, braised leeks, arbois and tarragon. The chicken was nicely cooked, the gnocchi competent and avoiding sogginess, while the jus flavoured with tarragon was rich and a good foil for the chicken (15/20). Roast fillet of wild halibut was well timed, served with asparagus, crushed Jersey Royal potatoes, citrus fruit and chervil sauce (15/20).
For dessert, compote of rhubarb sat as a layer on top of home-made vanilla yoghurt, with a biscotti as garnish. The rhubarb’s natural acidity was not too pronounced, and was a good balance to the yoghurt, though I have had better biscotti (15/20). Other desserts sampled were a capable custard tart with dressed raspberries and clotted cream, and a slightly over-done crème brulee with (seasonal) apricot compote. Coffee was of good quality, and the double espresso was served as a respectable-sized measure. Overall, this was just about 15/20 level cooking, with just one somewhat faulty dish in the meal, and service was good. The bill came to £50 a head, which was artificially low due to a special offer. Three courses are normally £39.50.
The notes below are from a meal in May 2008.
The dining room has plenty of natural light and is just yards from Kew tube station. Rare grilled tuna was nicely presented with artichoke and cockle barigoule (14/20). Warm English asparagus was in season and tender, but the crab and mustard cress mousseline on which it rested had so little crab that it was almost invisible (14/20). Better was spaghetti of rabbit with wild mushrooms, tarragon, shallot cream topped with Parmesan, the spaghetti having good texture, the mushrooms going well with the rabbit (15/20).
Crisp John Dory was timed well, served with a tender king prawn and fennel puree on top of a galette of potato, with tomato and broad bean vinaigrette. This dish worked well, the galette providing a texture contrast and the vinaigrette complementing but not overwhelming the John Dory (15/20). This was better than grilled halibut with a brandade crust, which suffered from overcooked fish, resting on a bed of sweet and sour Provencal vegetables with aioli that was too acidic, with overcooked courgette in particular (13/20 at best). A ravioli of chicken, sweetbread and pig’s trotter with morels and celeriac was a rich dish which had good pasta and perhaps a flavour component or two more than was really needed (15/20). The large chips were very impressive, despite their size being nicely cooked all the way through (17/20).
Passion fruit sorbet with shortbread biscuit had excellent sorbet with strong passion fruit flavour, while the biscuit could have been a little crisper (15/20). Coffee was fine, served with good chocolate truffles (16/20). Service from a friendly South African waitress was very pleasant, and the sommelier was helpful and knew her wines. The appealing menu has three courses for £37.50, with side vegetables at £3.50 and coffee also at £3.50. Overall the Glasshouse offers an attractive menu in relaxing surroundings, but with one or two slips in technique that one would not expect in a restaurant with a Michelin star.
Here are brief notes from a meal in June 2004.
With a maitre d’ previously at the late lamented Chez Max the service hums along, and the kitchen produces excellent modern British dishes. An example might be haddock with coriander risotto, or halibut on a shrimp omelette. One dish that impressed me was a shoulder of pork cut into four slices, very tender and surrounded by strips of almost translucent bacon that melted in the mouth. The meat was set on top a base of fondant potato, a layer of cooked apple and some excellent, crispy Savoy cabbage to give an earthy contrast to the sweetness of the fondant potato and apple. The wine list has plenty of choices from around the world, and there is the sublime De Bortoli Noble One available at dessert time.