Wednesday, 11 June 2008
The Establishment, Parson's Green
Parson's Green is a lovely villagey little part of South West London which is largely ignored by the rest of the capital, due presumably to the fact it's on the District Line, and as any Londoner knows 'travelling on the District Line' is second only to 'standing on the left of a moving escalator' in Things You Do Not Do. But after a painfully slow and uncomfortable journey from work last night I was rewarded with an unexpectedly delightful meal in The Establishment, a groovy new gastropub just opposite the tube station.
As often happens in those anticipatory moments before the food arrives, I found myself searching for clues to the standard of the evening ahead in other areas. The bar menu is lovingly crafted and contains a number of interesting sounding house specialities along with the tried and tested classics. My Martini was served in an ice-cold glass, the rim rubbed with lemon rind and with just a hint of Noilly Prat - as good an example as you're going to find outside of the top hotels, in fact; clearly someone behind the bar knows exactly what they're doing. Service, it almost goes without saying, was great and although hardly rushed off their feet on a relatively quiet Tuesday evening the staff were welcoming and eager to please. I should also give a mention to the impressive décor, which was incredibly tasteful 70s beige and bold wooden detailing. So far, so very very good.
And the food, thank the gods themselves, lived up to my expectations and then some. Starter of pig's trotter fritters with homemade gribiche was even better than that served at the Prince of Wales in Putney. Bursting with flavour and containing a delightful series of textures, the crispy delicate exterior broke on the bite to ooze meat juices and delicious fatty chunks of trotter. I broke into a giddy smile as the pork dribbled down my chin. Brilliant stuff.
Next was more beautiful pork - a crispy chunk of crackling sat on top of a sweet chunk of cheek and a flat roll of bacon-style belly. Alongside, a gorgeous moist slab of more belly, and a scattering of buttery glazed carrots set in creamy white polenta provided vegetable accompaniment. This is the pork dish that so-called pork expert Tom Ilic couldn't pull off in his restaurant in Battersea, but here it was done superbly and with each element cooked to a very high standard.
Maybe - and I have to put in some sort of disclaimer in case you go around thinking The Establishment is the restaurant equivalent of the second coming of Christ - maybe I was very very lucky with my choices, because a companion's fishcake (from the cheaper bar menu) was only good, not as heart-stoppingly brilliant as my two courses. And we didn't try the desserts either, so maybe they contain rusty razor blades or are laced with arsenic. I mean, there must be some reason why this place isn't packed to the rafters all day every day.
So as you will have gathered by now, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Establishment to anyone willing to brave the District Line and head out to Parson's Green. And for food of this standard, that should be all of you.