Sunday 5 June 2011

The Butcher's Hook - Gastro-rub-a-dub-pub

Gastropubs - the jury is still out for me on this one. Like 'Boutique' hotel, I feel the word is often overused and misrepresented. Places like Aiden Byrnne's Church Green and Sir Parky's Royal Oak veer more towards gastro than pub where the less catchy term of 'pub with adjoining restaurant' would possibly be better applied. Other places that use the term believe it is justified simply because the chef has used the word 'jus' on the menu or one of the more famous examples of over guilding the lily: a 'Nest of tortilla chips, served with a trio of relishes, drizzled in a warm cheese sauce.'

The Butcher's Hook on Fulham Road, opposite Chelsea FC's Stamford Bridge, however, presents a strong case for the defence. For me, this is how a gastropub should be. Since opening in 2005, The Butcher's Hook has won many accolades for its wine list, healthy food and wine and food parings. The Michelin trained Head chef Jacky Lelievre has also acknowledged as Hammersmith & Fulham Chef of the Year on two occasions.

We first encountered the Butcher’s Hook last year by chance when we stopped in for a drink after the Bupa 10k race and then noticed the whole Brittany artichoke on the menu. The food was amazing and we have been looking forward to coming back all year. This is not entirely true – my wife had some trepidation about returning because it was just so perfect the previous year and she didn’t want to get her hopes up.

Alongside seasonal daily specials, the pub has an all day blackboard menu as well as lunch and dinner menus. There is a good range of charcuterie and cheese on offer. Other favourites include oysters, homemade soups and the customary pint of prawns (although I do prefer these from a traditional pint pot as opposed to a pint glass). Many of the dishes have a rustic French twist.

The charm of the Butcher’s Hook emanates from its rustic yet modern decoration. The light fresh hues on the walls and the distressed wooden furniture help create a delightfully de-stressed setting. The bar, upon which sits a Jambon de Noir de Bigorre and a Saucisson Sausage, runs down the left hand side of the venue and leads to an open kitchen. Behind the bar, framed by the exposed brickwork, you can see displayed a selection of the pub’s award winning wine list. A table of freshly baked bread, which is served complementary with all food orders, rests in the corner.

From the all day blackboard menu, which dominates the wall on the right of the bar, we ordered: the Beef Carpaccio, Beer Battered Haddock Goujons with Tartare Sauce, a Bowl of Chips and the Butcher’s Hook Platter.

The beef carpaccio was of good quality and served with a fresh tomato and rocket salad, croutons and shavings of Parmesan.

The batter on the goujons was light and crisp and came with an ample serving of tartare sauce.

The Butcher’s Hook platter was well put together with a variety of charcuterie, pâté, chutney and cheese (possibly Morbier?) - I particularly loved the way that instead of a dressing or vinaigrette the acidity came from a generous selection of pickled button mushrooms, cornichons and olives.

From the daily specials board outside we ordered the Courgette, stuffed with Mediterranean Vegetables and Salsa and the Whole Brittany Artichoke with Vinaigrette.

The stuffed courgette was an absolute delight, encased in a crispy golden brown batter. The courgette was cooked to perfection, retaining a little bit of bite. The Mediterranean salsa was well balanced and not too sweet.

Much to my wife’s delight the whole Brittany artichoke was available once again and was as delicious as she remembered from our previous visit.

The Confit Pig Cheek, Chorizo, Pepperonata, Smoked Paprika was a real treat. The braised pig cheeks were meltingly tender, rich and unctuous and the sweet and smoky pepperonata was so flavoursome that I had to ask for more bread to mop up every last drop.   

So if you’re Lee Marvin (starving) and fancy some top notch Becks and Posh (nosh) - a good Brady Bunch (lunch); a bit of Michael Winner (dinner) or Tommy Tucker (supper) - then The Butcher’s Hook is definitely worth a look - a gastropub with an equal measure of gastro and pub.

History buffs will like to note that The Butcher's Hook (then called The Rising Sun) was where the deal to form Chelsea FC took place, over 100 years ago.

Butcher's Hook on Urbanspoon

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