What do we look for on our precious Sundays off, when those of us who are in the food business want a break from the kitchen and make a beeline for a relaxed atmosphere, a few, carefully chosen pals, decent grub and a splendid wine to sniff contentedly before happily sipping the afternoon away?
Well, I can tell you it’s been depressing stuff by and large. A few places in and around have been exceptional, The Parlour and The Shed both coming to mind immediately, but honestly it’s been consistently dull dining for me.
So it was that my business partner and I treated a friend to lunch, both for her company and her stirling efforts at the cafe.
It’s important to note that The Arches, an eclectic and quite eccentric wine bar and restaurant has two assets that make it notable – both chef and manageress have been there for about two decades.
If you’re out for an intimate and rather hushed time out, this isn’t the place for you. It’s buzzy, loud, has crate fulls of wine about which the owner has an encyclopedic knowledge and very importantly, it has a small menu.
Three of us being devoted carnivores, two chose the rare rib of beef (£18.50) and one the trio of sausages and mash (£11.50), both with extra gravy and we went for the house Malbec (£25), an intense wine which generally packs a punch and is a terrific partner to beef.
Well, there are no two ways about this one. This is what you want; beef that’s beautifully tender and cooked to your liking. Veg that are crisp, potatoes suitably crunchy on the outside and fluffily gorgeous on the inside, a thin gravy that hasn’t been turned into a hideous sludge with the addition of some foul granules, a most decent drop of wine, service delivered with a smile and very promptly too.
The trio of sausages were of a very superior quality, the onion gravy abundant and tasty and the mash a creamy heaven. I would have liked to see some green veg to accompany the dish, however.
There is a tiny gripe I have with the menu as a whole. It doesn’t excite me; it needs to evolve but that aside, if you’re in the mood for some fine wine, a great atmosphere, a really good Sunday roast with friendly and efficient service, then this is definitely the place to head for.
7 Fairhazel Gardens
0207 624 1867