Saturday, 24 April 2010

Livin’ is Easy at The Summerhouse, London

This week Foodie In London was delighted to bag an invite to London’s latest pop-up restaurant The Summerhouse in Maida Vale.

The Summerhouse, What’s The Deal?:
From the owners of the nearby canal-side restaurant and bar The Waterway, this temporary eatery is modelled on a New York Hampton’s beach hut. With pebble flooring, sailor striped wallpaper, boating memorabilia on the walls and even its own mooring space for river arrivals, this is faux beach kitsch 'eat your heart out'.

My friend and I spilled out of Warwick Avenue tube station and walked around in circles for a while until we found the correct way along the picturesque canal towards the restaurant. What a beautiful village of London this is to dwell in. Breathing in the early-evening air and gazing up past the huge mansion houses I realised there was a reason I hadn’t been in Maida Vale for as long as I could remember – none of my friends can afford a house this damn expensive.

The Summerhouse, The Food: We arrived and were offered a cute table for two by the plastic awning right onto the canal. We kicked off with some fresh fruit cocktails. Moi - a 'Basil and Strawberry Mojito' and the gal pal – a 'Summer Pimm's' made with blueberries, blackberries, mint and cucumber.

"Well that went down a treat and you can quote me on that." - were my friend's exact words once she had demolished her drink and started making loud noises with her straw, sucking on ice at the bottom of the glass.

To start, we shared a clam chowder which was creamy, well seasoned, and as good a bash as any London kitchen could do to re-create the USA classic (head to Cape Cod if you want to try the real deal). We also shared some popcorn shrimp. This was served up in two mini white sand pails (you get what they've done here?) alongside blue and white striped napkins, a sweet chilli dip and watercress garnish – top marks for presentation. The shrimp coating was soft and fluffy and not too greasy.

Next came the mains, eventually. Luckily we weren’t in a rush but Maida Vale 'ladies that lunch’ might have a bit more to say to the waiter on the matter. I went for whole seabass with caper and butter sauce and she had The Summerhouse signature fish pie.

Some might say my seabass was practically cremated, but I happen to be big on crispy skin and this was oily, crunchy and delicious. The fish was also served in the best possible way, whole, with the head still on. I can’t stand squeamish eaters who are happy to shovel down meat by the bucket load but as soon as they see the first resemblance to the being from where it has derived get all squeally and start shrieking 'urgh I can see its eye, it’s looking at me'. If you don’t like it, eat vegetables.

The fish pie was delicious but was a filled with aubergine and tomato ratatoille interiors – a dramatic departure from the classic dish. However, we both agreed that fish pie can be too creamy a lot of the time and it did say that the pie included ratatouille on the menu – so I think it deserves The Summerhouse thumbs up.

To drink, we ordered a bottle of Billi Billi Pinot Grigio from Mount Langi Ghiran, Victoria, Australia. It wasn't cold enough and tasted pretty dull but we did order a Pinot Grigio I suppose.

Dessert was my dining highlight of the night. We ordered a watermelon and strawberry platter for two which came again with another beach pail of clotted cream. Our waitress confirmed that the strawberries came from Heulva in Spain. They were some of the most beautifully ripe, sweet, juicy and good-looking strawberries I have ever tasted.

The Summerhouse, Toilet watch: Fun, fun, fun. Bright interiors, proper expensive throw-away hand towels, more pebble flooring and fish print wallpaper. Top marks for effort in the bog.

The Summerhouse, The Final Word:
Probably not worth venturing all the way across town for, but this temporary dining addition will have the locals smiling all summer. A pop up of the greatest proportions.

The Summerhouse
Opposite 60 Blomfield Road
W9 2PD
Tel: 020 7286 6752

The Summerhouse on Urbanspoon

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