A quick post here to give a big shout for one of the best value lunches in town at the moment. A set lunch is always, in my experience, a good way to try out a restaurant while keeping a eye on the pennies. Dinner will always be a more costly affair and given that I tend to only have a small glass of wine at most at lunch the final bill will not surprise or astonish.
I lunched with Nicky Richmond who had raved about this lovely old pub, which dates back to 1730 and is mentioned in his novels by George Orwell and is tucked away on Rathbone St W1 in fashionable Fitzrovia. The premise of the food is simple: Matt Chattfield of The Cornwall Project , a collective that supplies some of the best and freshest produce to London pubs and restaurants, has opened the dining room here with a couple of very talented chefs, loads of passion and, something that seems obligatory these days (see Oldroyd ) a kitchen too small to swing a cat!
The menu is neat and inviting and we both started with the heritage carrot salad. Shards of pickled shallot and Old Ford cheese added umami and hidden under the carrots were tiny grains of crisp buckwheat, such a clever textural punch.
I had the mackerel with yellow courgettes and broad beans.This was probably the best mackerel dish I’ve eaten, during a life time of mackerel love. Here the freshness of the fish really shone; I like to eat this oily fish as close to catching as possible or I find the flavour too fishy. Plus I have an anathema for fish skin, I simply can’t and won’t eat it. Here, crisped to a golden fish crackling, I ate every last crunchy flake. The sauce was light and sharp, the mash, hidden under the fillets added just enough carb to satisfy a lady at lunch. I would have licked the plate if I’d had the nerve.
Nicky had roasted romanesco with a cider sauce, pink peppercorns and candied nuts. Again simple, delicious and not a hint of vegetarian worthiness about this meat free dish. I have always loved these showy brassicas and am delighted they are taking centre stage now. Roasting preserves the colour and the candied nuts provided a real texture contrast and a touch of sweetness.
Warm chocolate mousse with pistachio ice cream was just that. Except it was made by angels, albeit tattooed ones. Speaking as one who isn’t that keen on chocolate desserts I defy anyone not to like this dish.
We finished sharing a cheese plate. I’d had such disappointing experience of the cheese plate at Lutyens wine bar earlier in the week that checking out cheese plates has become my new obsession . This one passed the test: three decent pieces of cheese, perfect in both condition and variety served with grapes , chutney and oatcakes.
So there you have it. A delicious lunch, £19 a head with a small supplement for the cheese. Go, you may see me there as I’ll be going again. And again!
The Newman Arms
The hot gossip is the Newman Arms will be open for family style Sunday roasts soon.