Category: Brasserie (£££)
We were planning to go to 11 Park Walk, an Italian restaurant, part of the Zafferano group. When we arrived in Park Walk, just off Fulham High Street, the Italian place was two thirds empty and the clientele looked positively geriatric, while Henry Root just next to it drew us in with warm lighting and welcoming atmosphere. There we go, plans changed.
Henry Root really is a lovely place. A little corner, just next to the open plan kitchen, looks like your ideal 19th century library, and the walls of the restaurant are covered in collections of scraps and cuttings. I think the writer Charles William Donaldson, who used the pseudonym Henry Root to publish a collection of fictional letters, would have approved. The informal wooden tables were just far enough apart for space and privacy without being spread too much and the lighting was comfortably dim while still enabling decent photos. (I’m sure that was Henry Root’s consideration when choosing the lighting, very blogger friendly!)
Small details like the very cute tap water jug (don’t you just love it when they give you a jug of tab water instead of teeny glasses that they never refill?) added to the positive impression. Our Hungarian waiter was a bit too keen at times, but very friendly and gave us good recommendations on what to order. His favourite dishes were not the most expensive ones I have to add.
The food, although overpriced, was surprisingly good and accomplished. The menu made choosing very difficult, a lot of the dishes, a mix of traditional British and modern influences, sounded mouth-watering. We went for the Beachwood Smoked Salmon (8.50), not the most adventurous of all choices but I need a lot of Omega 3 at the moment. A good choice as it turned out – the delicious salmon was only very subtle smoked and I enjoyed the combination with the crème fraîche it came with. The rye bread was maybe ever so slightly dry but I am so happy whenever I get decent bread in a restaurant (we have great bread in Austria and this is really something that I miss in the UK) that I shall overlook this detail.
The Puy Lentil Soup (5.5), one of the daily specials, was not terribly exciting and could have been a bit less watery and certainly less bland, but this dish was lifted by the gorgeous earthy sautéed wild mushrooms, served on a piece of warm and crisp baguette.
I absolutely loved my main of Loin of Wild Venison (24) even though it was outrageously expensive. It was a generous plate of food with 4 slices of juicy venison cooked pink to perfection. I loved the sweetness coming from the still a bit crunchy braised red cabbage and the beautiful rich Madeira based jus. Particularly interesting also the caramelised apples which somehow managed to taste of rosewater (?). If I spend 24 pounds on a plate of food, it should taste like that. Considering that I don’t rate smoked haddock very highly, I thought the Pan fried smoked haddock (16.5) was surprisingly enjoyable. The fish was tender and moist and its smokiness worked well with the creamy champagne sauce. The poached egg was cooked just right with the egg yolk oozing into the bed of spinach.
My boyfriend who doesn’t even like desserts usually opted for the Coconut Rice Pudding (7) which was not the best rice pudding I ever had to be honest. It was served luke warm (I’d say either steaming hot or cold for rice puddings, in-between temperatures don’t work too well) and even though I liked the coconut milk flavour, I found the grated coconut not that pleasant. The fresh mango though was at its peak, ripe and full of flavour.
There is certainly someone at Henry Root who can cook and who understands how to create a fully satisfying plate of food. Shame that the Chelsea factor is reflected in the prices, as I would probably become a frequent visitor if it was just a bit cheaper. We paid 100 pounds for 2, including a 500 ml carafe of Cote du Rhone, which is just a bit too much for your spontaneous, casual every day dinner. I think however I will be back if I crave expertly executed British-inspired comfort food.
- Food: 7/10
- Ambiance: 8/10
- Service: 8/10
- Value for Money: 6/10
- Chances of Returning: 40%
- Verdict: Comfy neighbourhood restaurant serving great but overpriced British/European food.