English food with with a few French touches. And GIN. Can gin be a cuisine?
Well, for the gin school – we’re thinking gin connoisseurs, along with juniper journeyers and tentatives of all stripes. The bar staff know what they’re talking about – you can have education!
People seeking the bar food experience, think small portions of nibbles and the whole ‘eating at the bar’ thing. But no crappy salted peanuts or pork scratchings here!
Fans of French and English cuisine, mashed together and served up alongside an ample booze selection (which isn’t just gin…but have some gin)
Anyone who wants an excuse to come to Chiswick for an educational experience/gin.
The Location & style
Jason: A stone’s throw from Turnham Green Underground, or a 5-10 minute walk from the Chiswick / Ravenscourt Park. Convenient.
The venue features a smart and modest upstairs restaurant, which is viewable from the entrance, all the way to the back. The bar is the first section of the restaurant, upon entering we were greeted and directed to pull out a bar stool each in the corner and help ourselves to the drinks menu. It’s a cosy fit by the entrance, however the draft from the door opening and closing is quite noticeable.
Excellent service all round! The cuisine itself is French and English, and that is where the staff all seemed to be from, at least the several who served us that evening anyway.
Charlotte’s Bistro offers a ‘gin of the week’, where a representative of a selected brew from their menu comes down and gives you a 1 to 1 discussion & breakdown of their brand of gin – don’t worry, there’s no test at the end. This includes samples of their herbal ingredients, pretty cool stuff IMHO. Tonight’s was Bulldog. We had a sniff and prod at the jars of carefully selected rarities which makes Bulldog gin what it is, accompanied with a shot on the rocks of the 40%, as well as the new 47% (the Bulldog Bold) – that little extra 7% being unexpectedly significant to its flavour in comparison. [Ed: wow. So bold. Many ABVs]
Now I’m not in any shape or form a gin connoisseur, making their selection hard for me to review fairly. I also personally tried Beefeater 24 on the rocks and a Bulldog Martini, all I can say is…it is gin, no more no less, and that is as specific as I can be unfortunately!
Ed: YES GIN EVERYWHERE
There were however a couple of exceptions, Compass Box’s Hedonism dessert whiskey – ordered purely because of the vanilla cream, toffee and coconut flavours. This is the nicest whiskey I’ve ever tasted, if you ever come across this on a menu you need to try it! For the record this was ordered before AND after our meals.
Now onto a flavour which failed to impress, Greengage Eaux Des Vie, which I’m sure to some is palatable, unfortunately not for us. Quite a harsh flavour, sadly not one I will be ordering again. [Ed: it really is brutal, but not ‘good’ brutal – more like being kicked in the mouth. But not ‘good’ being kicked in the mouth. Maybe this is a good drink for masochists.]
Ed: Charlotte’s are very cunning. After being very generous with the gin tasting, you’re quite likely to have acquired the ‘drunken-hunger’, unless you’ve eaten beforehand (we hadn’t). At this point, you’re in the perfect spot to satiate those atavistic desires. Sure, the bar nibbles are nice, but probably won’t do it if you’re fully in the grip of them munchies – so, we moved to the main restaurant area and proceeded to go to town on the chef’s seasonal menu and a tray of ‘nibbles’ (though ‘unceremoniously devour’ may have been a better word?)
From the Nibbles…
Jason: Cured meats for nibbles were a treat worth remembering, Pig Cheek, air-dried Venison & Dried Beef are each a delight if you’re into that sort of thing. Options include mini pickles as well as a selection of all on one plate. Ed: I don’t rate the pig cheek, which was too sickly for me. But the air dried venison was super smokey and excellent.
From the Chef’s Seasonal Menu…
Pan Fried Sea Bass, Salsify & Braised Leeks
Crisp Pork Belly, Carrot, Pig Cheek & Lentils
Beef Tartare, Shallots, Capers, Cornichon
Seared Bavette of Beef, Parsnip, Bone Marrow
It’s obvious upon presentation as well as flavour that a lot of care has gone into the creation of these dishes. They may read as very ordinary English dishes, but this is where the French influence works its magic, adding that additional flavour which makes you really appreciate the delicacy of each ingredient.
Blood Orange, Cheesecake & Ice Cream
Dark Chocolate Mousse, Rhubarb Jam & Yoghurt Sorbet
No hidden catches on the dessert front, it does exactly what it says on the tin…I mean menu.
All in all if this is your cuisine of choice then you can’t go wrong with it. Great service and a cosy, semi-formal setting.
My only gripe was the size of the portions, our waiter seemed fairly shocked at how much we were ordering – but we had too, the portions here do not do justice to a hungry man’s appetite! [Ed: legit]
That said, I can confidently say that I would recommend this restaurant to anyone in the area looking for a good food a drink after work, or a quiet night out.
A: 6 Turnham Green Terrace . Chiswick . London. W4 1QP
P: 020 8742 3590