14 Station Parade,
Kew, TW9 3PZ
Tel: 020 8940 6777
Food type: Modern British/ French
Food rating: 5/10
Nearest tube: Kew Gardens
Website: The Glasshouse
Bruce Poole and Nigel Platt-Martin’s second restaurant, the Glasshouse opened its doors back in 1999 – the same year Chez Bruce earned its first Michelin star. We decided to make the journey all the way across West London as the restaurant was running a 1/2 price January offer in current with Chez Bruce (you receive a coupon after dining at Chez Bruce which is valid for all services except Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch).
Located a proverbial stones throw away from Kew’s Garden tube and overground station, the triangular shaped Glasshouse is unmissable with its glass-fronted room. The stylish, modern-looking dining room follows the theme at Chez Bruce with glossy wooden floors, plain white clothed tables and comfortable leather-upholstered chairs. The walls are covered with an embossed cream coloured wallpaper giving a ripple, water-like effect. Moving about in the restaurant may be tricky as tables are spaced quite close to each other.
Head chef at the Glasshouse, Anthony Boyd trained under Bruce Poole at Chez Bruce working his way up from chef de partie to the position of sous chef. Like Poole, Boyd continued his culinary training under the wing of Philip Howard at The Square. His talent was noted by ‘talent spotter’ Nigel Platt-Martin and the rest you can say is history. At the Glasshouse, Boyd developed his own unique style which had the Michelin man calling. The restaurant received its first Michelin star in 2002, which it has held on to since.
The food at the Glasshouse is described (on its website) as classical French with Mediterranean influences. However when looking at the actual menu, it is obvious that chef Boyd is also a great champion of British cooking. Classics such as Shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon and trifle make an appearance on the menu. Prices are surprisingly fair for London – a 3 course dinner from the a la carte will set you back £37.50. A tasting menu (available Monday to Friday evenings) is £50. Weekday Lunch is £23.50.
Bread is a choice of Black Olive, Rosemary Foccacia, Sourdough and Walnut(?), with the later two bought in. Both the breads made in house were evidently better than the brought in ones – with nice fluffy texture, good amounts of salt without even the slightest hint of chewiness. (6/10) Less good was the Sourdough which was rather rubbery. (4/10)
A large solitary raviolo stuffed with mousse of Coq au Vin (literal translation = chicken, usually rooster cooked in wine) was brought to the table before a red wine bouillon was poured over it. The large raviolo hid large meaty chunks of portobello mushrooms. The dish delivered in terms of taste – the chicken mousse having taken up all the flavours after being slowly cooked in wine, although the pasta was a fraction too thick. It is evident of good technique in the making of the red wine bouillon, which was crystal clear, and had great balance of richness and acidity. (8/10 bouillon, 6/10 overall)
A signature dish of wood pigeon salad dressed with balsamic vinegar was also a pleasure to eat. The pigeon breast, just the right side of pink was accompanied by a mixture of frisee salad leafs, runner beans, tomato diamonds, potato and lardons – the latter giving much needed saltiness to the dish. An (oddly) shaped deep fried egg had the faintest scent of truffle although there was no evidence of the tuber in sight making me suspect that truffle oil was used. Nevertheless, the egg was well executed, with the all important runny yolk with which to dip the accompanying soldier (or crouton) into. A quenelle of onion marmalade added some sweetness to the salad. While it may seem like this dish was a component or ten too much, everything seemed to come together well on the plate with the sweetness of the onion marmalade carefully balanced by the acidity of the balsamic and the gamey pigeon. (6/10)
To be honest, you will have to ask J why she thought it would be a good idea to have shrimp cocktail in a Michelin starred restaurant. It is not as if there were no better options available. In essence, this does exactly what it says on the menu – no deconstruction or reinvention of the wheel here. This was literally a stack of iceberg lettuce, shrimps, Marie-rose sauce and a thin strip of rosemary crostini – something not too hard to reproduce at home with near to zero effort. (2/10)
If I thought J having shrimp cocktail was stupid, then I would classify myself as a complete lunatic for going for a hamburger. Steak haché also known as chopped steak is simply put, a posh hamburger of France. The chopped up fillet of beef received extra treatment in the form of onions and a good dousing of Worcestershire sauce. Grilled to perfection (n. def = rare) the haché sat on top of some bitter greens and a pool of sauce soubise (bechamel with pureed onions). A golden orange fried egg sat on top. Putting aside the fact that I am eating a hamburger, the dish itself was enjoyable – the beef a melt-in-your-mouth, juicy affair complemented by the iron of the vege and the richness of the sauce. (4/10) Hand cut chips were fat, thick-cut wedges of potato which were well cooked and fluffy inside, without a hint of greasiness. If only most chip shops could make chips like this… (6/10)
Duck breast, cooked a fraction longer (as requested by J) was still delightfully pink paired with the classic combination of parsnips, two ways. A parsnip purée was smooth, creamy and rich – the earthiness going well with the duck. Parsnip crisps and roasted almonds added interesting texture to the dish. Pastilla filled with shredded duck leg beared very little resemblance to the traditional Moroccan pie dish it takes its name from. What you get instead is a flawlessly executed deconstruction in the form of a duck spring roll. The filo encircling the duck adding to the decibel levels. The roasting jus could have done with a bit more refinement – there was evidence of trace impurities still in the sauce. (5/10)
Desserts were a less interesting affair. Profiteroles for example were unremarkable with the choux pastry drenched in hot chocolate sauce and the crushed praline adding very little of interest. (4/10)
Sticky toffee pudding, the quintessential British classic of sponge cake filled with dates and covered with toffee sauce was excellently executed. Like Christmas pudding, the words ‘light’ and ‘sticky toffee pudding’ is something you rarely find in the same sentence. The pudding, moist yet light, rich yet airy, put to shame thousands of sad sorry attempts I have tried in the past. It sat on top a pool of toffee sauce with a sheen so shiny you could see the reflection of the vanilla speckled ice cream. (5/10) A beautiful pairing with Barbeito Malvasia Old Reserve (10 years) Madeira had a nuance of burnt wood and well rounded raisin flavour to stand up to the pudding.
Service was pleasant although staff required frequent reminders to bring more bread. Our sommelier, a Malaysian girl, was friendly and knew her wines well. She made some sensible choices instead of pushing for something in the ridiculous price range.
The food here was enjoyable – you can see that the kitchen, when it tries, displays good technical ability. However, there were instances where I felt they could have showed a greater level of ambition. At times, the food could be described as posh gastro-pub grub. This was especially true with desserts which were safe classical choices without much adventure. Petit fours was a complete afterthought, with only a miserable chocolate truffle roll offered to us. On the evidence of my visit here, I feel a score of 5/10 is about right.