British / Western European
In A Word:
India: As I trudged through a pothole ridden field in complete darkness I vowed to kill Jack. I was due to meet him for a dinner he arranged at The Capability, Hilton London Syon Park‘s restaurant unfortunately, he had picked an evening where torrential rain was (accurately) forecast in an area we were both unfamiliar with. Therefore I was lost and wet.
(possibly) Brentwood’s Finest
Surrounded by an expanse of greenery and decorative gardens; the Hilton London Syon Park is beautifully located. Just a stone’s throw away from Kew Gardens, the local area is archetypal English – quiet and achingly quaint. You couldn’t just pop into The Capability for a bite to eat; it is the kind of place you venture to with a plan, maybe a weekend away or even a business trip.
To get to The Capability I used much exhausted Google maps which navigated me down a path that could only be described as “foreboding” when you are alone in a field in December at 7pm.
Once I finally arrived at The Capability I momentarily forgot how pissed off I was as my stomach stirred with excitement (though it could have been hunger. It probably was hunger)..
The building is bright and modern, almost a beacon of light after such an arduous journey. I felt that the imposing structure would probably be best appreciated if you glide up to the entrance in a royal blue Aston Martin (in keeping with the quintessentially English theme).
After being greeted by a laughing Jack (I had to jam my fists into my pockets to stem the urge to punch him in the face, Jack is my friend after all) (Ed: *shrug*) my coat was taken by an impossibly polite waiter who seemed almost apologetic about the tumultuous weather. Said waiter continued to accelerate himself into my good books when he asked me whether or not I “would like the bar man to make your very own cocktail”.
The cocktails begin…
Our courteous waiter and a very charming barman brought over a Passion Fruit Daiquiri and a ‘Delicious Duchess’ cocktail, consisting of vodka, strawberry, honey and Cointreau (!).
I usually avoid alcohol on a school night but these cocktails were presented with such aplomb it would have been rude not to indulge. Great care had gone into their decoration and I am sure I hit my five a day based on the real fruit content alone. We surveyed the menu whilst nibbling on freshly baked bread and though everything sounded tantalising we eventually made our choices.
Then The Food
To summarise how I felt about my Green and Tomato Risotto starter, I have been trying to recreate my own version of this dish over a cumulative period of two weeks. I have risotto coming out of my ears and even smell it in my sleep but to no avail. I cannot quite capture the softness or the flavour that was mastered by The Capability’s chef who managed to blend the somewhat unusual mix of tomatoes to great effect and produce a risotto with a pleasant texture which was almost melt in the mouth.
I sampled some of Jack’s Smoked Chicken & Chorizo Terrine, even mixing it with my risotto (because I am disgusting like that) and it bore a great resemblance to a mousse with its creamy lightness. It was so unashamedly scrumptious that I decided to nab some more to spread on my bread. After demolishing our starters we were all the more ravenous for the main course…
I chose Grilled Breast Of Chicken as (in my mind) it is a fail-safe dish and difficult to get wrong. Obviously my theory is not always correct, as chicken is often not that easy a dish to master. Nevertheless, the chef managed to cook until succulent and the meat was easy to sink my teeth into as well as being flavoursome…
It was accompanied with Béarnaise and triple cut chips, though I think next time I would choose a ‘medley of seasonal vegetables’ side as Jack had done with his 10 oz Scottish Rib Eye steak. My chips were not astounding but hit a carb spot and while the sauce did not particularly wow me, it definitely kept my chicken moist.
I am no enthusiastic steak eater but the slice of Jack’s steak that I tried was brilliantly cooked and most importantly EASY TO CHEW. For an unbeknownst reason, I usually have great trouble chomping on a steak – hence why I avoid them. Though I rarely take the plunge into the battlefield that is red meat but I would definitely make that an exception if I visited again…
We were served our desserts after another magnificently created cocktail, this time a Martini to cleanse our palates.
In keeping with my totally imagined English theme, I had chosen the Apple and Pear Crumble whilst Jack had a Dark Chocolate Torte. I must confess that by now I was pleasantly full and barely made my way through the grand finale. However, the offbeat choice of a mixed apple and pear crumble was surprisingly delicious the fruit was tangy and zinged my taste buds into getting a good workout. I mustered a slither of the torte which was gorgeous to taste and allowed me to experience every ingredient in the dish.
The Capability is spacious and elegantly designed with seats built to be slumped into after a heavy eating session. If the aim is to be subtle then that is certainly achieved, nothing is overdone or under-delivered with lighting low but not too dark. Thankfully, the music added to the atmosphere as opposed to completely obliterating it by being too loud (my dining pet peeve). The bar is slick and you could comfortably while away several hours there.
If I was ever in the local area, or just had a good enough excuse, I would certainly visit The Capability again. Our time there was delightful with the highlight of my evening (aside from the food and the rain) being the staff who was the epitome of brilliant customer service. They were attentive but never overbearing and met our needs without ever interrupting our evening. The food and its presentation was grand without leaning too pretentious and I left well fed and giddy due to all the cocktails churning their way round my stomach…
I decided to let Jack live. For now. (Ed: legit)