Open Mon midday–10pm, Tue–Thu 8.30am–10pm, Fri 8.30–10.30pm, Sat 10am–10.30pm, Sun 10am–4pm
If you’ve never been to Bush Hall, have a gander at their website, find something you like and get yourself some tickets. The old Edwardian building is a beautiful and intimate place to see a show, one of the last remaining independent gig venues in London. It’s the kind of place that makes London wonderful. So it was with high hopes that we headed for the dining rooms, hoping that we’d love it as much.
Initial impressions delighted. The big windows at the front let in a lot of natural daylight and are good for watching the unceasing flow of people on the Uxbridge Road. They’ve stripped the old paint from the wooden walls of the former Harp Cafe to reveal a distressed wood panelling and there is a line of mustard coloured banquettes on one side. The old ‘Dining Rooms’ sign has been retrieved and hung in pride of place over the tables too. So, like Bush Hall, you get a sense of the history of the place whilst appreciating the fresh take. Music posters and photographs in the loos marry up the two venues.
The menu caters for those stopping by for something quick, those there for a feast and those lost for words – there is a guide to conversation on the back. Certainly, the three starters we tried would have made for a decent early supper by themselves. Pork and pistachio terrine (£7.50) was a coarse and chunky hit for the meat heads, judiciously paired with a sweet ale and walnut chutney. Definitely not for those looking for something light to start with. Bloody Mary mussels (£7.50) had a decent kick of spice and an insanely moreish soup that I had to refrain from finishing in order to do justice to the mains. Beetroot and vodka gravadlax (£8.50), on the other hand, was a bit odd. It looked prettier than it tasted and style over substance is not for me.
Pork three ways (£15) was the ruin of my wannabe vegetarian wife (she likes the ethics and health aspect but can’t resist a bit of pig, especially if it’s crispy). You get the tempting crackling, belly, loin stuffed with rosemary and what I thought was a kofte but is actually a genius take on black pudding a world away from the dried disc normally seen with a full english. Rack of lamb (£16.50) was good but upstaged by a gravy you could have given me a straw for. Similarly outdone was my tart and sugary lemon posset (£6); the dense and rich runaway dessert winner was the chocolate tart (£6).
You’re likely to be charmed by either Jo (who is actually the director of operations) or the mischievous looking Miki. The table service needs a little fine-tuning. Our three starters were difficult to fit on our small table and the shuffling around proved a little irritating. Having used it all up on the starters, we had to request more cutlery and wine was an afterthought to the mains. These are minor gripes easily forgiven in an opening week and the dining rooms are a little oasis of great British grub you could grow to love. Just like Bush Hall itself.