Hereford Road, Notting Hill

Monday, 7 June 2010 | |

Note: I was dining with @samanthanewbery and @harrywilkinson. Follow them on Twitter cos they're ten out of ten nice.

Hereford Road is by no means a new restaurant, as you may know. Opened nearly three years ago by Tom Pemberton (ex head chef of St John) it aims to deliver more of the same, on the street of the same name. Locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, with offal playing a part in the starters and the main courses - calf's brains with tartare sauce, and lamb sweetbreads, for example.

I was here to try out the set lunch menu. Seemingly a bargain - three courses for £15.50. All of the options also appear on the a la carte menu and there's no skimping on portion sizes. As well as the prix-fixe, there's a one-dish "express lunch": one main, a glass of wine and a coffee for £9.50.

Home made bread and (not home made) butter. Pretty good stuff: well made bread and high quality butter, at the appropriate temperature.

Photo by me.
Grilled sardines, parsley and lemon.

Photo by Samantha.
Grilled sardines, parsley and lemon. 
Why do I even bother? Look at my photo, then look at Sam's. I might as well have drawn mine in Microsoft Paint. Anyway... The description I've given in bold is off the menu verbatim - the 'ingredients list' style is one of the simplistic features that Pemberton and Hereford Road employ, paralleling their menu with the style of cooking and perhaps even the greater mindset at the restaurant. On the fish, freshness is always the first issue that creeps into my mind. Flaking the flesh away from the spindly bones gave an early insight: the fish came away with the right level of ease, pulling apart but still retaining a firm, not mushy structure. The initial tasting note was of scorched flesh from the grilling, with the parsley and lemon zest complementing the fresh, oily fish. A squeeze of lemon completed a simple but good starter, despite the last sardine being overcooked and rather cottony in places.

Another reason I like eating sardines: they make me feel like a cartoon cat when I've finished with them.

Harry's beetroot, sorrel and cow's curd. He seemed to like it.

Sam's crispy pork, chicory and mustard. We all liked this one. Probably the best starter of the lot. Really well composed of complementary flavours. Plus it had bits of pork belly dotted about, which always makes everything better.

Photo by me.
Onglet, chips and aioli.

Photo by Samantha.
Onglet, chips and aioli.
(Much better composition, more sharp, better colours...) Sam and I both had the onglet as a main course. Otherwise known as a 'hanger' steak (due to its 'hanging' from the diaphragm of the cow) or 'skirt', it's an economical (cheap) and unforgiving cut - you can only cook it rare or take it to just medium-rare, otherwise it'll be tough, chewy and a waste of flesh. Apparently butchers used to keep this for themselves as no one else would take it or want it, but Hereford Road seems to be all about the unloved cuts of meat. The steak came out already pre-sliced against the grain, which some may not like but I do, and looked perfectly cooked; the exterior had caramelised and developed a crust, whilst the meat inside was rare, pushing medium-rare in places and as juicy as you'd expect. There were no problems with the tenderness of the meat, nor the flavour for that matter. Onglet is one of the stronger tasting cuts, similar to the neighbouring kidneys, and the meat shone with the right amount of seasoning added. It was equally good with some of the pungent aioli, the strong garlic matching the flavourful beef.

The chips are triple cooked and nearly creep into roast potato territory, through size and structure- and taste-wise. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, they were a touch too oily (perhaps the oil was too cold for the first fry?) but were still delicious.

Harry's mackerel, tomatoes and rocket. No messing about, give the lad a whole grilled fish. He seemed to enjoy it, once again.

Photo by me.
Lemon and almond tart.

Photo by Samantha.
Lemon and almond tart.
A pretty nice tart, which I can't remember too well to be perfectly honest. The crème fraiche worked nicely with the slightly bitter candied lemon zest.

Caramel ice cream.
Two generous scoops and two delightfully buttery shortbread-like biscuits. Smooth and almost stringy ice cream with minimal ice crystals, and a great burnt-caramel taste. Marvellous ice cream.

The bill.
Very good for a three course meal - about £22 including a beer and tip.

We spent a couple of hours at Hereford Road, with the service being quite relaxed - perhaps it was because the restaurant was empty, save for two other tables dining inside (and two outside) on a Friday lunchtime. I'm not sure how busy it still gets in the evening, but nearer to opening I remember having to book a while in advance. Maybe people have forgotten about Hereford Road? The set lunch, whilst hardly pushing the boundaries of cooking or using top end ingredients, proves a good, budget-friendly option for the area.

Hereford Road on Urbanspoon


Marcus said...

outstanding work, sucks that i couldn't make it. i think there's something inherently wrong with chefs cutting your steak for you.

Ibzo said...

I tend to agree with steaks such as rib-eye, sirloin but when it comes to something like a cote de boeuf, porterhouse or onglet (which needs to be cut against the grain, like you know) then I'd rather they got their slicing game on. Makes my life easier plus I think it looks great on the plate.

Lizzie said...

It looks like you had a far better and far cheaper meal than I had. I'm not sure I am willing to schlep it out West again, though it does look bargainous.

Grumbling Gourmet said...

If only I wasn't allergic to West London (Lucky 7 aside...)

looks and sounds great (pictures from both of you are excellent) and what a price for three courses!

Good work


Louis Anthony Woodbine said...

This place looks great, though I am not a great fan of boney fish. The chips are a real piece of art! And of course the tart... I will have to check it out en route home to Chiswick...

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