Hereford Road

3 Hereford Road, Notting Hill, London, England, W2 4AB, United Kingdom

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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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  • Bellaphon

    Rule, Britannia! This part of W2 is strewn with B&Bs and two star hotels. One of the major advantages of calling the restaurant Hereford Road is the heavy luggage wielding tourists simply have no excuses on figuring the whereabouts of the said road. I’ve been yearning to visit Hereford Road ever since they opened, but its over-hyped PR put off most of my dining companions. I enjoyed my past experiences at St. John but it started to get too expensive and crowded for the wrong reasons. The daily updated menu on the Hereford Road website suggested that the dishes were keenly priced and equally tempting as the ones found at St.John. A friend was thus duly or rather forcibly dragged here to accompany me on a Sunday Lunch. For a restaurant to have an open kitchen in line with the entrance can only evoke a degree of confidence with their cooking and expertise. The main dining room was brightly lit by a large circular skylight and the overall ambience was entirely comfy without a hint of stuffiness. The service was efficient and friendly and thankfully never overbearing. That said, this place has no cover or service charge and tap H2O is served automatically, gratis. To my absolute delight, the dining room is also perfect for solo diners. I was disappointed that Grouse was off the menu, but to my relief Snipe was offered as a starter instead. The starter choices could quite easily leave a lot of diners spoilt for choice, what with Smoked Eel and Bacon, Salt Beef, Brawn and so on. My companion’s Parsley Soup was deemed delicious especially with the superb bread that’s baked in-house. My Snipe and Damson Cheese was as clichés go, an absolute tour de force dish; the beautifully roasted bird (including the long beaked head and brain) was presented with a piece of toast that’s been spread with a pate made from its cavities and a slice of damson cheese (jelly). The result was extraordinary and the tartness of the damson complimented the gaminess of the bird. My mains of Roast Forerib, Runner Beans and Roast Shallots was equally well executed, the beef was pink, tender and rightfully beefy. The mate’s Chicken, Girolles and Lentils was also pretty much heroic, in fact as I’d observed this dish was popular with the other diners in the room. Sides were not ordered, as the portions for the mains were more than generous. The puddings were spot on and no-nonsense. I ended my meal with the decadent choice of Profiteroles and Chocolate Sauce; here the cream is replaced with a superior vanilla ice cream. My now happy companion’s Apple Jelly served with a couple of shortbread was a perfect conclusion to ensure he comes here again. It’s very difficult to envisage Michelin inspectors visiting a restaurant like Hereford Road, especially with the lack of the following; elaboration on the presentation of its dishes, that dreaded foaming on the dishes, amuse bouches, a supposedly world class sommelier pestering you off the house red. Well not in my books, Hereford Road provides brilliant comfort food, great ingredients and uncomplicated cooking. Sundays, and for that matter Mondays will never be the same without HR. Tom Pemberton, you get all me stars.