The Brook Green dining room is a fabulous addition to the Brook Green Hotel. Friendly and unpretentious, and serving good British food, it really is a quaint local treat.
Located on a busy main road joining Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush, this local hotel takes its theme from the coaching inns of old. Many of the original features can be seen throughout the pub and dining area, with bold cornicing around lantern lights and big single-glazed windows aplenty; it's just a shame they haven't been blended with more modern colours and textures to give the venue an up to date feel. Located to the side of the main bar, the dining area is small but thoroughly inviting. The muted tones of the paintwork subtly emphasise the eclectic mix of old fashioned tables, floors and chairs, all made from wood. The main wall of the dining area features a large sketch drawing of a summer scene from outside the venue, whilst splashes of bright colour comes from the soft furnishings, long sofa and striped hotel style carpet, bringing the whole area together and ensuring it doesn't lose its humble charm.
Being so close to the busy pub means the dining area absorbs the atmosphere surrounding it. It's busy and vibrant, yet relaxed and informal in equal measure. People are happily enjoying an after work drinks event or a quiet pint, offering a mixed clientele of everyone from single hotel patrons to young local couples or small groups of work colleagues. The staff busily tend to the bar and the dining area with quiet efficiency which adds to the down to earth nature of the dining experience. There are typical pub specials on offer such as beer battered fish and chips or a selection of famous brewery pies, however the modest A4 paper menu is where the specials and unique dishes of the kitchen lay.
The menu is cheerily laid out into three parts, with slightly naff introductions. Starters, ('something to tickle your taste buds' - £4.95 to £7.95); sharing dishes ('sharing is caring' - £10.95 to £18.95 or £2.50 an item for your own creation); and main meals ('traditionally British all the way' - £11.95 to £16.95).
The baked lemons stuffed with a saffron risotto and parmesan cheese with deep fried rocket and lemon oil are inventive. Strangely enough the lemon oil adds too much lemon to the dish and detracts from the crispness of the rocket and the subtle saffron and parmesan in the rice. In contrast, the chicken liver parfait with cranberry jelly and toasted brioche is excellent. The full bodied, richness of the liver is fabulously balanced by the tart of the cranberry jelly and buttery sweetness of the tower of crunchy brioche. All simply served on a wooden board.
If you're keen to try the British mains, the Dingley Dale pork belly and scallops served with crackling, pea puree, fondant potato and black pudding is a good bet. And it doesn’t disappoint. A veritable feast of textures and flavours, the meat is tender and infused with succulent baked apple segments. The scallops are equally delicate, and work in very pleasant contrast to the crunch of the crackling and mellow pea puree. The pan fried seabass with crab cakes served with saffron rice and lemon oil is a fresh delight. The seabass is cooked to a fine crispness without drying the flesh, allowing the subtle flavours of the fish to be retained. This works extremely well with the slight seasoning in the saffron rice. The crab cakes are served spherically, with a crispy breadcrumbed shell that gives way to real meatiness from the crab.
Desserts are to be found on the chalkboard. The amazing sticky toffee pudding is one to try, but do be aware that it's heftily served with vanilla ice cream, a toffee milkshake, date puree and a tweel biscuit. A dessert-lover's delight, this pudding is flavoursome, moist and downright delicious, if a little too large. The homemade carrot cake with salted carmel walnuts and carrot jam is not to be underestimated either. Equally as moist, this dessert very aptly appeals to those with a slightly more savoury tooth as well as a healthy appetite.
Expect to find a vast array of drinks available in the dining area, including any guest and cask ales. The wine list - although not extensive - supplies a good choice of whites, reds and rosés with a surprisingly high number available by the glass.
The Last Word
The modesty of the Brook Green setting gives way to some very good cooking, with huge portions that should leave most diners very happy indeed.