by May Jamieson
Chiswicks friendly neighbourhood foodie-heaven!
In the heart of West London, tucked away just off of Chiswick High Road and down a little street called Barley Mow Passage, lies Sam’s Brasserie. As we wander up, that slight tingle of apprehension at giving up your evening and palette to somewhere totally unbeknownst to you quickly turns to relief… ‘Yes, this looks really nice’.
And it really is. You are first impressed by the beautiful spaciousness of the brassiere working its high ceilinged way in a type of L-shape along the bar and around into the main dining room where the kitchen is framed through a long window along the far wall. A mezzanine floor nestles at the top of a short flight of stairs to our left and the whole restaurant is decorated with class while still being welcoming and atmospheric. Book shelves are dotted around filled with the kind of book you actually might want to take a look at – plenty of diverse cook books, some by other London restaurants – and so you start to get the sense that this place has sprung from a real passion for food.
The charming Anna looks after us, she is wonderfully attentive and chatty with plenty of recommendations and insights into the content of the menu. As I watch the other waiters at work I see much the same going on with the other tables close by, a nice mixture of diners with a young family to one side and what looked like a few dates on the other, everyone catered for and everyone happily trying new things in this relaxed environment.
A unique point about Sam’s is certainly the menu which Anna explains changes almost daily depending on the season and the chef’s inspiration. Masterminded by Head Chef Mark Baines, and all personally tasted and approved by Sam himself, the restaurant boasts a flexible and creative fare. Although the menu changes regularly, and it is deemed advisable to phone ahead if a particular dish takes your fancy, I must at this point pause to heartily recommend the lamb fritters. They were beautiful, they cosied up on a bed of pea and mint purée which Anna explains will shortly become a pumpkin version just as soon as the chef finds some pumpkins he deems worthy, that is.
The bar boasts a few good local craft beers, which is a must these days in my book. The Meantime lager goes down very well and they have some even more local West London-based ales. There is also an extensive wine and champagne menu with an eclectic mix, which I suppose is essential when accompanying such an inspired and changeable menu.
I trust Anna’s recommendation with our dessert which tastes so freshly homemade that elusive ‘grandmother’s cooking’ nostalgia comes over me. I am hesitant to mention what it was in case it transforms soon to be replaced by something I’m sure will be as equally delightful….Oh, okay, the fig tart and get there quick!
As I praise Anna for her recommendation we end the meal discussing our own recipes and what ideas she has taken back to her own kitchen from her five years at Sam’s Brasserie. Once again I am thrilled by the genuine passion for food that is so evident here. They apparently do an amazing breakfast/brunch too, and we leave with a recommendation in the bag – the Cornish Crab Benedict. You won’t catch me missing out on that one.