I'd heard a lot about Chiswick, in short I'd been told it was the place to have a lunch, eat lamb and that it lent itself to be a luxe casual affair rather then stuffy fine dining. So, when our friends invited us to be part of a birthday lunch recently we jumped at the chance.
On arriving you are feel like your walking into an establishment that is an institution. Surely you think to yourself it's been here since the beginning of time. Well, no! In fact it's only two and a bit years old. The garden is such a nice feature and you feel like your not in the middle of a city but a country restaurant. Inside they manage to capture the garden by having windows that wrap around the dining area so you have a real sense of green lush country side as you dine. The windows also create a light and airy space. The white seats brighten the room and wooden table tops compliment the feel of the outdoors. It all just works.
For us it was extremely busy when we arrived. We were booked in for the 2nd seating of lunch and every table was taken. The room was nosey but we never struggled to hear to each other talk. Being on a long table meant it was a little harder for the people on the ends to chat but in a large group it's never going to be easy.
The wait staff we had were helpful and trendy. Hints of tattoo's, a french accent and slick hair cuts were all on display. They gave a sense of coolness without being too hipster or stuck up.
We were in a group of eight people. This meant we able to take up the "collective menu" on offer instead of everyone having to order individually (which we could have done but it seemed like more work). One of our dining companions had been to Chiswick in the week with a group for a work function and said that they had opted for the collective menu. They had been happy with what came out and everyone had enjoyed sampling bits and pieces off the menu rather then locking in an entree and a main. At $75pp it seemed like the easiest thing to do and lamb was promised so everyone was happy.
We enjoyed a lovely red. The wait staff helped our friend the birthday boy select one and we all enjoyed more then a few glasses as the afternoon went on. They also offered mocktail style lemonade drinks which were good for the driver and pregnant person in the group.
From start to finish I was in food heaven. The flow of the food was fantastic. Every dish was made for sharing and our group of 8 all had more then enough each time something was served (they either shared plates between 2-3 of us or with the bigger mains at the end the entire table shared lamb, chicken and fish stew).
Chiswick pickles, avocado
Oregano, Garlic, wood fired bread
Winter salad of globe artichokes, horseradish dressing
The flat bread was a great introduction. We had tried to avoid eating since breakfast knowing we would be coming to enjoy this food at 2:30pm which meant we were quite hungry. The bread was crisp, light and knocked the hungry feeling on its head straight away.
The two "salads" which accompanied were displayed like little works of art. I loved the pickled vegetables and they were served with what I can only call a crumbled chocolate dirt. It added a nice texture to the pickled veggies and while not overly sweet it balanced the tart taste they had. The artichokes were fantastic with creamy dressing and the crisp texture of the baked element.
Off to an amazing start and the plates were all polished off before the next round came.
Salad of zucchini, confit lemon, feta, almond
Sauteed Parmesan gnocchi, mushrooms, sage
Trevally sashimi, sesame, yuzu, coriander
The zucchini dish could be viewed as quite simple when compared to the other dishes in this course. It was however nice and light next to the gnocchi and the zest of the lemon, the flavours of the feta and the bites of almond made it a winner.
I love sashimi. When you have really great seafood you don't even need to have anything with it to make it great but when you pair it with the right things it can become out of this world. That's what this dish was. Amazingly fresh tasty sashimi with little touches of magic that took it beyond. I found it hard to share this one- I wanted it all.
I normally stay away from pasta. I've become one of those people that think it's an evil carb. However, you can not stay away from a dish like this. The gnocchi was one of the best dishes of the day. The sage/ mushroom combination with the cheese made those little parcels of floor and potato all the better. I'd recommend this dish hands down. Surely those brussel spouts make it healthy in some way... it's not like it's all sauteed in some delicious butter goodness???
Whole roasted chicken, broad beans, camerisled onion
'Cioppino' fish, prawns, mussels, tomatoes, fregola
Wood roasted Moran family lamb, radicchio, chestnuts, mint
Steamed greens, chilli lemon (not pictured)
I'll start with the chicken. This was a bit boring to me personally. I love chicken but there was nothing about this chicken that made me think it was any better then the one my mum does. I also don't think Chiswick could do it any better then what they did- it's just I don't really see this as a restaurant dish. Nice but not remarkable. Basically, if you could only order one dish this wouldn't be the one to order but as part of share menu it was nice to have.
I loved the Cioppino. This was seafood was in a yummy tomato based sauce and everything tasted great. It was hearty and light at the same time.
The lamb. I feel like this is the dish everyone talks about and for good reason. While the chicken didn't shine the lamb was an example of a family favourite done to it's very best. As you can see from my photo it was dived on straight away and I didn't even get a chance to photograph it before the carnage began. I loved the lamb. Not too fatty and had lovely flavours. Like a warm hug from your nan. It was worth ordering and our table would have loved more.
Mandarin, passion fruit pavlova blood orange sorbet
Chiswick hazelnut rocher
Mr does not eat pavlova (you notice how common this dessert is when someone you know doesn't enjoy it). As such I had more of this one then the other (it was two desserts between two people). I loved how sweet and light the dish was and couldn't stop myself from finishing it off. The hazelnut moose was really good as well. It was rich, nutty and exactly what you'd hope for from a dessert proclaiming to be a rocher.
I went to Chiswick not really sure what to expect but with a great deal of curiosity. I'd been given mixed reviews, which made me think it might be all show and no delivery. I worried that we'd be paying a high price for what good gastro pubs are already producing and that perhaps Moran wanted to get a cut of that market but with his prices.
I would say this wasn't the case. The food was beyond my expectation and I was so glad to have experienced it in a sharing fashion, as I truly think this is the way it's meant to be done.
The only down side was the waiter asking if we'd like another bottle of wine but we were not told we were about to be moved on as our dining time had come to an end. The birthday boy hasn't been told we'd have sitting time on the booking. So, just as we'd started drinking the bottle of wine and finishing up our deserts we were told we needed to move over to table which sits in what I presume is the waiting area to finish our wines. If we'd been told we only had 30 mins left and once we finished our desserts we'd be required to move on we would have never ordered another bottle of wine.
Come here: To group dine, take parents out or have a long lunch.
Don't come here: For a couple date- there is too much on the menu and with two people you simply get restricted by budget and stomach size as to how much you can eat and sample.