The Handbook
The Handbook

Having been invited to go and review Parlour in Kensal Rise, I readily accepted and as always checked out the menu before we arrived. I was intrigued by the Cow Pie, it sounded like the sort of meal that would pack a punch both in flavour and size and since I am already heading into the autumn/winter comfort food zone I was hoping it would still be on the menu.

Luckily it was on the menu, but if you think that is all we ate you would be very wrong. We were on a culinary journey, all I can say is that when it comes to impressing and putting on a review Parlour is giving other restaurants a serious run for their money. We were sat at the Chef’s Table, a little tucked away booth in front of the kitchen, you could still hear the bustle of the restaurant but there was a little more privacy, if you’re planning a birthday I would definitely recommend booking there.

The Chef that the table belongs to, is Jesse Dunford Wood, who has appeared in celebrity MasterChef and won awards such as the Best British Restaurant Award. Funny and passionate he turned the evening from just a food review to an event, describing each dish to us, telling anecdotes and making sure we tried everything and really got stuck in.

We started with the English, savoury take on a, Ferrero Rocher it was made from nuts, slightly spicy, we could have easily ordered a bowl of these if we were just going for drinks. Talking of drinks we the guys behind the bar made us our special cocktail with Kamm & Sons Ginseng Spirit, lemon vodka, and grapefruit, we named it the Alcoholic Antidote, as Kamm & Sons are inspired on the medicinal properties of alcohol, whether it is a real remedy or not, it was just what we needed and we can only hope it becomes a regular on the menu.

Next up was warm soda bread with plenty of butter and salmon, simple but done perfectly, it was some of best bread we had in a while. Slightly more elaborate was the ravioli which came next made from beetroot rather than pasta, so it was wonderfully light but stuffed full of the creamiest goats cheese and decorated with golden sultanas, dried cranberries and flowers. We were told it might change our lives. It did. If I could go back and eat platefuls of that I would. It has all the flavour of ravioli if not more without any of the stodge.  

Following this was the rosemary pitta breads and a great dollop chestnut hummus. It was the smoothest hummus I have ever had, full of flavour but not over powering and worked so well with the rosemary, I rather over did it on the hummus so at this point was a little full.

But we took a break and moved onto the egg course, a boiled egg with mayonnaise and celery salt and then a sort of egg shot. Take an egg, hollow it out, put the yolk back in, top with caviar, drench with tomato consommé. Do it in one, or sip it to really get the flavours, either way it was absolutely delicious and like nothing I had had before.

Then came the main course, and you’ve guessed it the Cow Pie. Like something Desperate Dan would have been proud of. A man sized pie with a big hunk of a bone sticking out of it stuffed with bone marrow, breadcrumbs and parsley. It was everything you wanted from a pie, proper sized rich chunks of meat, flaky but thick pastry, it didn’t need anything with it at all. It was a bowl of absolute winter goodness. Want comfort food in this weather? You need this pie in your life. We also tried out the Chicken Kyev, a ball of chicken with oozing with melted garlic butter, sitting on a hash brown. Chicken Kyevs and hash browns, yes slightly retro but they were brilliantly cooked and an instant competitor to the Cow Pie. It came with coleslaw made with wholegrain mustard rather mayonnaise, which was a lighter take on it.

We might have already eaten our weight in food but next came pudding, naturally. Jesse covered our table in tin foil and covered it in a menagerie of pudding goodness: blobs of salted caramel, cheesecake topping, chocolate sauce, lemon syllabub, smores, chocolate crackling, macaroons, homemade rolos, biscuits, sweets, raspberrys, arctic roll, wafers and the most gorgeous blackberry and apple soufflé. We got envious looks from the other diners who came to check our pudding out, it really was the king of puddings! We made a valiant effort and worked our way through most of it, but there came a time when we realised it had got the better of us and headed home.

I can’t recommend the Chef’s Table at the Parlour more, there is nothing I could fault! It really was one of the most wonderful evenings I have had. I have spoken of nothing since and can’t wait to return, the cow pie hasn’t seen the last of me yet.