1 May 2010

Barnes Storming

If there's one thing that this week has been good for, it's the reminder that the Tube isn't the be all and end all of London travel.

Some of you are no doubt sniggering already and yes, it's both fashionable and frequently justifiable to bash the Tube. But, with Mrs L working for TfL, over the last 15 years, I've got to hear the other side of the story and get a greater appreciation of why the problems exist and what they're doing to rectify them.

Regardless, even when the Northern Line was truly awful in the mid-90s, the Tube was always my default mode of transport, simply because: a) we live so close to the Northern Line; and b) I seem to spend most of my life either waiting for films to start around Leicester Square and Soho or buying cheese in Borough Market.

This week, however, I've reverted to the old me: the commuter. Back in the 80s and 90s, I spent my early working years in the City before realising I hated it, found it utterly immoral, etc., etc. At the time, I was living out in Sunbury-on-Thames so was to be found most weekdays at around 7:30am suited and booted and heading into Waterloo. I didn't miss it at all when I switched to Tube life but that just means I'd forgotten how useful trains can be. And I had two reminders of that this week, with the excellent Roz-Ana night and, on Wednesday, lunch at The Depot at Barnes Bridge.

I've gone on about Roz-Ana enough of late (but hopefully some others will follow suit shortly, he hints subtly) so today it's all about the depot. Best meal ever? No? Lovely location, very decent, sensibly priced and crowd-pleasing? Absolutely.

First of all, it's hard to hate anywhere where your dining view is this:

Secondly, the menu mixes some creativity (chick pea, vegetable, wild garlic soup with pancetta, sea bream with broccoli tempura, for example) with appetite-inducing classics.

Thirdly, while it's hard to completely balls up my choices, plenty of places have managed it. The Depot didn't. Foie gras and chicken liver parfait was meaty and creamy and in that order, well spiced and came with good walnut and raisin bread and a smear of plum jam and an intense, reviving herb salad.

Roast cod came atop minted Jersey Royals, morels, broad beans and English asparagus. The fish was firm, fresh and full flavoured, the supporting acts were vibrant and tasty: the morels were a particularly welcome touch, adding a pleasing, subtle richness. It's hardly a dish that reinvents the wheel but on a sunny day by the river it ticked my boxes.

The same can be said of the warm pear and almond tart. While the decorative icing sugar was a little distracting - happy with a scattering, this was more Dallas-style blizzard - I had no complaints over the tart, which squidged and crumbled in roughly equal measure and delivered both flavours in efficient and pleasing style.

Worth the trip in its own right? On this showing, just about, given the proximity of Ye White Hart (proper riverside boozer), the efficiency of the journey (four trains an hour from Waterloo) and the fact that there's a two course lunch for £12.50. Judging by the crowds of locals here for a midweek lunch, you might have a fight to get in. They are, I'm told, already taking bookings for 2011's Boat Race...

1 comment:

Helen said...

I probably use the tube about once a week, if that. Living in SE it's not an option anyway and I am a big fan of buses. Well, not a BIG FAN but you know, they just involve a lot less shoving and grumpy faces. And you can see out of the window.