The Hour Glass

279-283 Brompton Road SW3 2DY, London, SW5 9JF, United Kingdom

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The Hour Glass reopened in September 2015 under the ownership of Luke McKay (who was Borough Market’s demo chef) and David Turcan, who jointly set up the Brompton Food Market shop. Heading up the kitchen is Tim Parsons, who trained at places such as the Ebury restaurant and has held head chef positions since 2003 including five years at The Lighthouse in Battersea.

The 28-seat dining room is upstairs, with wood floors and walls panelled with what appears to be an ersatz collection of old doors (I will clearly never make an interior designer). The kitchen is partly open at one end of the dining room. Starters were £7.50 or less, mains £14 to £18 and side dishes £3.50. Desserts were £6. There were also bar snacks available, mostly at £4.50. The wine list had just over 40 bottles, ranging in price from £18 to £97, with a median price of £31 and an average mark-up of just 2.3 times retail price, which is very generous by London (and indeed UK) standards. The list was 57% French, but stretched its coverage across ten different countries. Examples were 2014 Pinot Grigio, San Antini at £19 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for around a tenner, 2014 Pouilly Fume 'Duchesses' Domaine Laporte at £37.85 compared to a retail price of £19, and 2007 Geoff Merrill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon at £45.25 for a label that will set you back £24 in a shop. Growers are well chosen, such as the sublime De Bortoli Noble One dessert wine by the half bottle.

A Scotch egg used rare breed Cumberland pork and had crisp breadcrumb coating and a soft-cooked egg at the centre, served with piccalilli. This was a case study in how to make a Scotch egg: the meat had plenty of flavour, seasoning was spot on and the textures were hard to fault (15/20). Mackerel fillet from Cornwall was charred with a blowtorch and served with coriander and sweet peppers. The fish tasted very fresh and was precisely cooked (14/20). 

Fish and chips came with tartare sauce and mushy peas. The fish had crisp batter and was carefully cooked alongside excellent triple-cooked chips, though some more mushy peas would have been welcome (13/20). Game pie featured partridge and duck, the pastry topping very good and the meat tender and with rich flavour, again well seasoned (easily 14/20). The only minor slip of the evening was a side dish of buttered greens, which were cooked a little too long (12/20). 

Blackberry and almond tart with double cream had good quality pastry and nice fruit, the texture just a touch too buttery (13/20). Coffee was pleasant. Service was friendly, though our waitress came from the slightly bewildered “who ordered what?” school of hospitality. The bill came to £78 a head, but this was with copious amounts of good wine. If you shared a modest bottle then a typical cost per person would be around £50. I thoroughly enjoyed our meal at The Hour Glass, the cooking hearty and full of flavour, using good quality ingredients prepared without fuss. I would return in a heartbeat. 

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