Chiswick is one of my favourite places in the world, I grew up there and have spent many, many weekends enjoying all its amenities: Fouberts ice-cream parlour, the various parks, friendly restaurants and boutique shops... it will always feel like home. So when the opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance to review Charlotte’s Bistro on Turnham Green in Chiswick.
With large windows opening onto the street, the restaurant was blissfully cool and breezy when we visited on an unusually hot September evening last week. Even on a school night, this gorgeous bistro was full with jovial groups laughing and enjoying the experience. We were well looked after by attentive waiters throughout the meal, who were happy to answer all our silly questions about what onglet, gurnard and salsify are.
First we were treated to special cocktails to sip on while naughtily tucking into the fresh bread and butter. I tried the adventurous Fennel & Bergamot Martini, an autumnal mix of flavours, while my friend chose the delicious Caribbean breakfast. My martini felt very grown up and sophisticated - a delicate aromatic combination of fennel infused Smirnoff Black vodka, homemade fennel & bergamot purée, orange blossom water and lemon juice – shaken, strained & served straight up.
The menu at Charlotte’s Bistro is diverse and inspiring, using sustainable and interesting seasonal ingredients, for example the Cornish Gurnard used as an alternative to endangered varieties. After much consideration, we decided on our starters: Honey Roasted Pumpkin & Carrot Veloute with almond and coconut for me, and Marinated Violet Artichokes with leek hearts, Trompette emulsion and Berkswell cheese for my guest. Both were beautifully presented, my soup came steaming, a gorgeous orange colour with delicate sweet foam on top. A comforting dish that would make a perfect light winter lunch.
For mains, we decided on the Slow Pork Belly with Pomme Puree, port wine salsify and oyster vinaigrette and the Roasted Hake with Moroccan spices, chorizo, green olives and salt baked potatoes. For an added touch of greenery we ordered the English rocket and Watercress Salad. I wasn’t quite prepared for how rich pork belly is, and though the flavour was scrumptious, I couldn’t manage the very fatty parts. The Pomme Puree was as good as I’d imagined, a more luxurious type of mashed potato, it accompanied the meat wonderfully, as did the sweet and salty port wine salsify. The Hake looked wonderful too, with juicy chunks of chorizo and fresh perfectly cooked fish working well together.
After strong recommendation from our waiter, we ordered the Nougat Praline Parfait with Pistachio Crumble, Brandy Soaked warm Chocolate Madeleine to share for pudding. It was as spectacular as promised, presented precariously on a white plate, three different textured sweet treats, the parfait was particularly yummy. We were both also brought palate cleansing fresh mint tea, my favourite drink to start and finish the day!
Charlotte’s Bistro is a special restaurant with character and a lovely atmosphere - and with a constantly changing menu, it is definitely a place to visit again and again.
Visit the website for Charlotte’s Bistro here.