I am a long-standing fan of Jesse Dunford-Woods’ cooking, from the days of Mall Tavern to his newest venture Parlour. This was the first time that I had sat in the small garden at the back of the premises, which is a pleasant haven on a summer’s day., especially compared to the slightly gloomy dining room. The soda bread is made from scratch in the kitchen and avoids the dense texture can often mar this type of loaf (14/20).
A salad (£7.50) of summer beans, summer truffle and hazelnuts had a balanced vinaigrette dressing, tender broad beans and fresh leaves, the hazelnuts providing some contrasting texture, though as ever summer truffles deliver very limited fragrance compared to their costlier cousins (14/20).
Chicken Kyiv (£15) had a golden exterior, plenty of garlic butter inside to enrich the carefully cooked chicken, served on a potato cake with a base of coleslaw. The latter is in some ways the clever part, as the sourness of the pickle used in the coleslaw cuts through the richness of the garlic butter. This smart take on the 1970s cliché dish is enjoyable, neatly designed and cleverly executed (15/20).
Blackcurrant soufflé (£8) was light and airy and full of fruit flavour, cooked evenly through with a pillowy soft exterior; I have eaten worse soufflés in Michelin-starred restaurants than this (16/20). A chilli Arctic roll was another retro dish, but this was merely pleasant, the flavour just a little jarring when contrasted with the vanilla ice cream (13/20).
The bill, with one of the costlier wines on the list, came to £48 a head. The cooking here shuns luxury ingredients but is consistently inventive, clever and enjoyable. It is far more sophisticated than the pub setting would suggest, and it is excellent value.