So, going to a pub on a Sunday you are likely to find it busy but this was really busy with many groups of celebrations. This is a destination pub – in fact pub doesn’t do it justice as the quality of food here is seriously above ‘roast dinner on a Sunday’. Chef Jesse Dunford Wood has used his culinary experiences to create a robust British seasonal menu with flair and attention to detail. Before I go on to the food it’s worth noting that Jesse has worked all over the world in some of the great kitchens abroad and at home, amongst others Michael Caines, Michel Roux Jr, Oliver Peyton as well as appearances on Master Chef and The Truth About Food and that’s just this country. So with a background like that there is expectation aplenty.
Now, I mentioned seasonality and it’s a watchword here. Great to see Mushroom and Chestnut Pate, which tasted fresh and luxurious and came with a welcome wafer of pressed puff pasty to scoop it up with. The Pork Crackling with Bramley Apple Sauce that my 12 year old ordered sadly defeated him and me (as at my age the teeth are more important than the food, just!) Fried Brie with a deliciously smooth Cranberry Sauce was clearly made with Brie in prime condition and had kept its shape, almost like eating raw but it was hot and crispy.
Another nice touch at The Mall Tavern is that they do their own cold smoking of salmon and other dishes. This shows a true dedication to quality, taste and invention.
There is a Kitchen Table here as well, no menu just constant supply of food from dedicated chefs with all the excitement of the cut and thrust of the service right in front of you. They also have a rather grand private room with dark walls and oil paintings that might just be right for that special occasion or surprise?
The main courses here are big in flavour and big in quantity. I had Cow Pie, absolute comfort food heaven. Wonderful egg washed pastry with chunks of beef and a thick sauce. A Beef Wellington was very generous and again excellent quality meat. As it was Sunday most of these dishes were accompanied by the usual trimmings of Yorkshire Pudding, Vegetables, Roasties and gravy. My son opted for Roast Wild Duck which more than made up for his foray into the world of crackling. The size of the plates matched by the portions were starting to have an effect on us, everything is big here. Except possibly the spaces between tables (maybe we had eaten so much that we were getting larger?) It did feel a touch cramped when getting in and out. But that said, once in, you really didn’t want to leave – the food was too good.
They do a very theatrical dessert of Toasted Marsh Mallows with Chestnuts and Hot Chocolate Sauce, which is torched at the table much to the children’s delight. They saw somebody else’s order and couldn’t resist. A very delicate Elderflower Jelly was, for some of us just right after such hearty fare.
There are lots of little touches here that make it a notable restaurant not least the service, which is attentive, casual and friendly in all the right proportions. This is busy, popular place to relax in and maybe celebrate with excellent food and has everything going for it. The quality does come at a price though. You will pay more for Sunday lunch here than in most pubs, but £14.50 for one of the best ‘Cow’ Pies I’ve ever tasted seems not so much Desperate Dan, but more fine and Dandy to me.
71-73 Palace Gardens Terrace
London W8 4RU
Tel: 020 7229 3374