The dining room is in two parts, a narrow line of booths opposite the open kitchen, and then down a few steps into a larger space. The decor is simple and the room brightly lit. The short menu is the essence of seasonal, based around British produce. Here are notes from my most recent meal.
Hereford Road strips everything back to the basics, relying on high-quality ingredients. The single choice of bread, a white loaf, is made from scratch. I began with a salad of peas and pea-shoots with Berkswell cheese. The peas were raw, and had good taste, though I wonder whether they would have been better cooked. They were certainly of good quality, though they were a world apart from the succulent peas that you find in markets in Italy. Still, overall I enjoyed the salad (14/20). Potted crab on toast was again simple, but the crab meat had very good taste (13/20).
For main course, John Dory was baked in the oven and served on the bone. I really like the flavour of this fish, and it was carefully timed, served with courgettes that looked a bit past their best but actually tasted fine (14/20). I had excellent guinea fowl, served with put lentils and wild garlic. There was no garnish, so nowhere to hide, yet the bird had a deep, full flavour and was very well cooked (15/20). New potatoes were perfectly cooked (15/20), though an out-of-character slip was soggy hispi cabbage that was badly overcooked ((10/20). Walnut tart had pleasant pastry and good walnuts, while buttermilk pudding and rhubarb was light on the rhubarb but had very good buttermilk with a hint of lemon (14/20). Coffee was excellent (15/20). Service was fine. Even with one of the costlier wines, the bill was still barely over £50 a head.
What follows are notes from my first meal here, in January 2008.
This being the time between New Year and before things really get back to normal next week, there was no line-caught fish to be had, so the menu tonight had no fish at all. The menu is simple, with half a dozen starters, main courses and desserts. The wine list is surprisingly French, neglecting the New World in a way that seems odd in this day and age. However mark-ups are tolerable e.g. Cuvee de Vatican Sixtine 2004 is listed at £45 (retails for £15 or so).
The first thing that was a surprise is that the waiter (an English waiter, in London, what next?) came up with a carafe of chilled tap water rather than trying to flog a bottle of water at five times or more its shop price. What happened next was better: a few slices of simple brown bread appear, but when you bite into them you realise this is no bought-in fare. The crust is perfect, the texture excellent, seasoning correct. The bread here is home-made each day; not only is this more than Gordon Ramsay can manage, but the bread was genuinely good (17/20 for the bread).
Smoked eel was served simply with a remoulade of celeriac. The eel itself was of good quality, with plenty of robust flavour, while the celeriac was excellent, the creaminess of the remoulade offset by a generous dose of mustard cutting through the dish (14/20). A simple dish of purple sprouting broccoli was carefully cooked, served with anchovy and a sliced boiled egg. I am not sure whether this combination is ideal, but the components were nicely made (12/20). Spinach, mushroom and cheese pie had good pastry and a rich taste, served with a well-dressed salad (13/20). My pheasant in itself was cooked correctly but was, oddly, rather lacking in taste, but was served with excellent puy lentils and lovely red cabbage (13/20 for the dish overall, but the vegetables were 15/20 level).
Apple sponge was moist and had enjoyable taste, served with correctly made custard (14/20). Sticky date pudding also showed good technique. Starters are £4 - £6.50, mains £8.90 - £13.60, desserts £5.50, with no extra charge for vegetables, and remember there is no rip-off mineral water charge either. Service was uniformly excellent from the various waiters and waitresses that we encountered. Overall this impressed me: there is a clear care taken over produce, and the simple dishes leave nowhere to hide, but technique was exemplary throughout.
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