Silver Birch opened in October 2020 on the busy Chiswick High Road. Since April 2023 the head chef here has been Nathan Cornwell, who was head chef at The Barn, the casual sister of Moor Hall. I wrote previously about the wine list, or alternatively, corkage was £35 a bottle. A tasting menu was £90 and a three-course lunch was £42, with a full a la carte selection. There were pescatarian and vegetarian versions of the tasting menu available.
The meal began with a trio of canapes. Cured trout with trout roe and seaweed emulsion was excellent, the trout having enough sharpness from the curing process to combine well with the roe, and the emulsion binding the elements well. Perl Las is an organic blue cheese from Caws Cenarth in Carmarthenshire. This was combined with red onion marmalade on a Parmesan sable biscuit base with grated Parmesan. The marmalade complemented the Parmesan nicely and the biscuit base was delicate. Pork fritter with mustard was my favourite, the fritter having a crisp outside and plenty of pork flavour, enhanced nicely by the mustard. A final nibble was an oyster from Porthilly, chopped and served in its shell with apple sauce and a dill and fennel granita. The acidity of the apple worked well with the natural brininess of the oyster, and the granita gave an extra flavour dimension (15/20 canapes). Sourdough focaccia was made in house and had good texture.
Beef tartare featured sirloin from a retired dairy cow and involved mustard, kohlrabi, sea herbs and a herb cracker. This was prettily presented and the beef was not too finely chopped, having good flavour. For me it needed rather bolder seasoning, but it was certainly a capable version of this classic dish (14/20). Smoked Devon eel was paired with Jersey Royal potatoes, pickled leeks and chives. The sourness of the pickled leeks was just what was needed to offset the richness of the eel, and the late season Jersey Royals brought a nice earthy contrast (14/20).
Shetland cod came with Rondo fennel (a variety of Florence fennel), rouille and suquet sauce (a kind of Catalan fish stew) made from prawns, langoustines and shellfish stock. The sauce was excellent and had lots of flavour, the cod nicely cooked and the fennel brining its characteristic aniseed flavour to the dish (14/20). Aylesbury duck appeared in two forms. The breast was cooked medium rare and the leg appeared in Peking duck style. The meat was accompanied by bobby beans (English green beans) and girolles along with sweetcorn and some apricot puree. This was a nicely executed dish, the various elements being carefully cooked (14/20)
A plate of cheese had four British cheeses: Mrs Kirkham is an unpasteurised cow milk cheese from Preston in Lancashire, Ticklemore is a goat milk cheese from Sharpham Dairy near Totnes in Devon, Winslade is a soft cheese resembling Camembert and is from Basingstoke. Finally, Perl Las is an organic blue cheese from near Cardigan. These were all in good condition. Gooseberries from the Wye Valley came on a brown sugar tart and gingerbread. The pastry was delicate and the gingerbread was an interesting touch, though gooseberries were, as is in their nature, quite sharp (14/20). Cherries from Oakchurch in Hereford were topped with a lemon verbena mousse and almonds. The cherries had very good flavour and the lemon verbena mousse had lovely texture, the almonds adding an extra texture (15/20). Coffee was from Assembly Coffee in Brixton. Petit fours comprised a tarragon flavoured macaron and chocolate fudge flavoured with star anise. I am not sure why pastry chefs these days seem obsessed with putting peculiar flavours in things, but tarragon is definitely not what I would want my macaron to be flavoured with, and star anise is a very divisive flavour.
Service was friendly, and the bill came to £120 per person with corkage. If you shared a modest bottle of wine from the list then a typical cost per person might be around £100. Overall, the cooking at Silver Birch has definitely moved up a notch in standard with its new chef, and is producing some very capable and interesting food. Chiswick has a lot of restaurants but not many good ones, so it is nice to see this one on the way up.
Further reviews: 04th Nov 2020