There are moments in life when everything is perfect. Eating raw sea urchins just off the island of Skyros; guzzling 18 Colchester natives with a bottle of Greco di Tufo; sinking your gnashers into some oozing Epoisse that’s been scooped up with some sourdough. You get the picture.
And so it was when my fellow gourmand and I set off for The Parlour, a very chic and classy gastro pub in fashionable Kensal Rise.
The small touches are always a welcome when dining. The art deco reception desk, the metal art work that I immediately would have bought had my ‘pocket book’ allowed, flowers abounding in a cool interior.
A glass of Cinsault Pay D’oc was a pleasant sip whilst perusing the rather eclectic and unusual menu. The wild garlic soup grabbed the attention of my dining companion and I chose a favourite of mine, the steak tartare. To follow, I ordered the hake which I don’t often find on a menu and the pulled pork for my friend. I would have chosen a Malbec with my starter but I gave in to a bottle of Chablis as my friend doesn’t get on with red wine (quel horreur). It’s worth pointing out that The Parlour’s house wines come from Borough Wines, a very respectable wine merchant and they come in at £18 a bottle.
The first aforementioned perfect moment came, ( one of many) I’m extremely happy to report, as soon as I opened my gob to try the soup. Delicate, divine with an almost alien kryptonite appearance, it was truly delicious.
It didn’t stop there either. My tartare with pickled carrot had that soft and handsome texture that can only come from top class fillet. The seasoning lifted it to another dimension and the melba toast was a crispy delight.
When the fish arrived, sitting proud in the middle of the plate, unadulterated and adorned only with citrus flavours and olive oil, my instinct was to find the chef and give him a great big kiss. Why do cooks mess with fish when its delicate flesh yearns for nothing but gentle cooking and something to compliment the flavour? Beats the hell out of me.
The pulled pork was a triumph according to my pal, but for her, the most sublime rhubarb sorbet for dessert made her heart sing. My cheese board filled me with joy which I consumed in a most unladylike manner with a glass of Malbec and the final touch was just great fun:- home made rolos with a centre of sea-salted caramel.
If you think all this comes cheap, you are sadly mistaken. You’ll be about £150 poorer in pocket and a million pounds richer in terms of your culinary experience. I can only applaud very loudly, give The Parlour a standing ovation and let Jesse and the team take unlimited curtain calls. Bravo indeed.