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My Dining Room

18 Farm Lane, London, England, SW6 1PP, United Kingdom

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This is what used to be called The Farm, which opened in August 2004 but changed hands in August 2009. It is in a very quiet side street in Fulham, not far from the Harwood Arms. The chef was Julian Marshall, who most recently was head chef at private club Mossiman’s, and was senior sous chef at the Lanesborough before that.

The room was attractively decorated in modern style, with a front area that is more of a cocktail bar, with a dining room behind. At the back of the room was a very narrow garden perched between the dining room and a wall, with a few tables and topiary set out. The menu was a mix of English and French classics, with “home dishes” such as pie of the day and charcuterie mixed in with surprising touches such as a raw “pad thai” vegetable salad. Starters were £4.50 - £9.90, main courses £11 - £20.90, vegetables £3 and desserts £5.50 - £7. The two page wine list had choices such as Urbina Crianza 2004 at £29 compared to a retail price of around £9, Merlot Casa Azul 2008 at £16 for a £6 wine, and Ruinart Blanc de Blanc champagne at £85 for a wine that you can buy for about £38 in the shops.

Bread was from an "artisan bakery" (Gail’s), with good white bread and pleasant walnut and raisin slices (14/20). A starter of crab salad with spring onion and lime dressing was refreshing, the white crab meat carefully prepared, the lime giving a pleasant hint of acidity (14/20). A crayfish version of Ceaser salad was served with gem lettuce garlic croutons and proper anchovies; for me it could have had more dressing, but the crayfish was carefully cooked, the lettuce crisp and the anchovies nice (13/20).

For the main course my wife had smoked haddock and salmon fish cakes, with samphire and lemon sauce. The fishcakes were properly made and had good seasoning, though there was not enough sauce, so the overall effect was rather dry (13/20). Much better was duck pie. The pastry topping was good, but what really surprised me was the depth of flavour of the duck and carrot contents of the pie. The duck had really deep flavour, beautifully seasoned, the carrots an earthy foil for the richness of the duck. The French beans and carrots on the side were fine, but the pie contents were genuinely top drawer; I’d have been happy with this if it had turned up in a Michelin-starred restaurant (16/20). Chips were acceptable, but as usual with double-cooked chips were not crisp enough (12/20).

For desserts it became clear that the kitchen did not really have a pastry chef, with several items bought in, including the ice cream. One of the few items made by the kitchen was a rhubarb clafoutis, which in itself was quite good, but served with ordinary bought-in vanilla ice cream (maybe 12/20 overall). Coffee was not bad (13/20). Service was very stretched this evening, as was the kitchen (apparently there were a lot of unexpected walk-in customers), with long gaps between courses. However our waiter was very good indeed, and although clearly pushed he was most professional. The bill came to £55 a head. I was pleasantly surprised by the food here, which is a distinct improvement over The Farm (which had decent food at absurd prices and other quirks such as refusing to accept cash as payment).  If they get a pastry chef here then the overall level could rise further. Certainly the duck pie was a real revelation to me, suggesting genuine ability in the kitchen.

 

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