You might remember that a couple of weeks ago we told you about the new all-day eatery that has just opened on the edge of Eelbrook Common, aptly named Eelbrook, well not one to say no to checking out a new restaurant The Handbook sauntered over to Fulham to do just that.
The venue itself is somewhere between a café and a restaurant with twinkling lights, large windows, plain white walls and white tables and chairs. A scattering of cushions and flowers provide splashes of colour, but the minimal décor is so minimal that in places it almost looks unfinished; the spirits for example sit in a shelf which looks like basic ply board nailed together. I can imagine though, come the summer or a warm crisp autumn morning the terrace would be a lovely area to catch up over brunch and feel smug that you are not one of the runners going round and round and round.
We visited on a Tuesday night, they had a few bookings that night and despite the room not being filled with chatter there was still a warm atmosphere. Our first waiter seemed to have stage fright and only muttered a few words before handing us slightly dog-eared menus which was a shame as the dishes (created by Brett Barnes) deserved more than flimsy paper. Once another waiter had come over and talked us through the menu, which is primarily British but with European and North African influences we felt more relaxed.
We started with the crisp pig’s ear, it had a wonderful texture and was a generous portion but the flavour was rather lost; but never mind the chunky beef tartare was delicious and worked well with the thin rye crackers it was served with.
We followed this up with the grilled wild bream, vegetables and pistou (like pesto but without the pine nuts), it was beautifully cooked with a crisp skin and whilst it would make the perfect light supper alone, we couldn’t help but order a side of salt crusted aura potatoes and aioli and were very glad we did. The Elwy valley lamb rump served with coco beans and sauce vierge was also a highlight, with my friend claiming it was superb.
For pudding I had the blackberry sorbet and it was heavenly with that wonderfully intense autumnal flavour, one scoop and it took me straight back to afternoons spent scouring the hedgerows as a child. My friend went for salted caramel chocolate fondant and I have to admit I had food envy, it was rich, dark with a molten fondant and a hidden salted caramel centre, everything you could want from a pudding.
I would be interested to go back and see what Eelbrook is like during the day, not just for the baked eggs but also because perhaps the minimal décor works better flooded in sunlight, that said the food did win us over at this little eatery.