Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boys in the Hood Are Back for Good; Restaurant of the Week

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boys in the Hood Are Back for Good; Restaurant of the Week

Article excerpt

Byline: Fay Maschler

THE BRACKENBURY 129-131 Brackenbury Road, W6 (020 8741 4928, brackenbury restaurant.co.uk). Lunch noon-3pm Fri, Sat & Sun. Dinner 6.30-10pm Tues-Sat. A meal for two with wine about PS94 including 12.5 per cent service.

CHEF Rowley Leigh and Nick Smallwood, two of the chaps who founded Kensington Place in 1987, are at the next table. Up a short flight of stairs sits Tom Oldroyd, chef-director of Polpo Ltd, with Adam Hyman, author of The Code Bulletin, "eyes and ears of the (catering) industry". Lauded as the ideal neighbourhood restaurant when Adam and Katie Robinson opened it in 1991, The Brackenbury has eerily been reconstituted with that virtue intact, right down to the detail of supplying friends and acquaintances with whom to chew the fat in the extended gaps -- it is very early days -- between courses.

The premises -- after a hiatus as a Filipino restaurant that didn't sit easily in what estate agents in their wisdom once christened Brackenbury Village -- are now in the ownership of Ossie Gray, formerly manager and wine and olive oil buyer at The River Cafe, and chefs Humphrey Fletcher and Andy Morris, who between them can drop the names of Kensington Place, Glasshouse, River Cafe, Anglesea Arms and Providores. It is a team to conjure with and a special grace to watch the first son of the late Rose Gray peering quizzically at customers, making sure they are content.

Our choice at dinner to start is Tamworth pork terrine with prunes, a sturdy slice with the fruit at the heart packing the sort of punch that the word pate doesn't come near, served with celeriac remoulade and toasted sourdough and tagliatelle alla cacciatore where the hunter's bag of pheasant, rabbit and wood pigeon have gone into the ragu. If Elizabeth David walked in (unlikely as she is no longer with us), I dare say you could have knocked her down with a feather.

Guess the main dish that Reg opts for? Steak, 28 days aged Aberdeen Angus bavette, cut into rosy pink slices with frites (sic), watercress and Bearnaise. It holds no surprises but that is good. Boldly roasted halved endive is the most compelling part of pork cheek braised in Pedro Ximenez accompanied by mashed potato but it was too burly a choice to follow sensibly the game ragu.

Chat with Rowley Leigh, these days chef-patron of Le Cafe Anglais in Bayswater (also opening soon probably not near you in Hong Kong), as we wait for iced Paris-Brest with hot chocolate sauce and prunes in Armagnac with creme fraiche, reveals that he and Nick Smallwood owned The Brackenbury for a while after the Robinsons took off for South Africa.

"Their marriage split up and he's become a baker," says Rowley, adding Eeyorishly: "They nearly all do."

The desserts are absolutely sound and merit a glass of Recioto di Soave Colombare 2009 from Pieropan in the Veneto but we resist; January and all that. …

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