Mon–Sat 11am–11pm; Sun midday–10.30pm
Dating back to 1886, The Brook Green boasts a wide expanse of bar, which sits beneath its Victorian streetlamp-style hanging lighting. Mismatched vintage chairs, upholstered with vibrant fabrics, inject colour among the dark wood of the tables and exposed floorboards. The chocolate brown leather sofas back onto a windowsill lined with books, giving the place a cosy feel. As the bar rounds the corner there is a subtle divide into the dining area. The pub also backs out onto a secret garden, which would be a lovely little haven in the summer, but in the current weather it was only being used by the smokers.
Staff were friendly and attentive and the crowd seemed settled in for the night. There were a couple of pairs of middle-aged men both in equally deep conversations, a small group of young friends and a rather larger group of work colleagues, whose flow of conversation matched that of their alcohol intake.
The pub stands by its ‘traditionally British all the way’ menu – think fish and chips, burgers and pies, plus their meat is sourced from the West Country (including meat from free-range pigs). A good start. We ordered some bread, which was carved into sizeable chunks on the bread board counter behind us, and arrived with olives and balsamic vinegar (£4.95). I started with a large bowl of UK rope-grown steamed mussels (£11.45) in a beautifully delicate cream, white wine and garlic sauce that was so delicious we were dipping our bread into it and abandoning the olive oil. Sarah had the wild mushroom wellington (£7.95), a neat samosa-shaped package made of crisp puff pastry, with strong, creamy Yorkshire blue cheese inside. Both starters were generously sized and so was my main of pan-fried sea bass (£15.95). Not one, but two fillets of fish on a bed of pleasantly light saffron risotto, with little round crispy crab cakes dotted around the edges. Sarah opted for the butternut squash ravioli (12.95). Although the accompanying parmesan crisps and sweet roasted garlic were a definite winner, the homemade ravioli was on the thick side, leaving it slightly undercooked. Our sides of triple-cooked chips (£3) and braised red cabbage (£3) served their purpose but were doused in pepper, masking their taste.
With barely any room we decided to have a pot of mint-infused tea (£2) to aid the digestion of our deserts. Sarah had a slab of carrot cake, with caramelised walnuts and carrot jam, while I had (brace yourself), a large square of rich chocolate brownie, topped with salted caramel ice-cream, a macaroon with cream in the middle and a miniature hot chocolate with whipped cream and tiny marshmallows. I was beaten. Individually they would have been lovely, but unfortunately together they resulted in overload.
Overall; hearty pub portions of well executed (if a little over-seasoned) restaurant-quality food.
There are 24 wines on the menu, helpfully categorised into styles and available for the most part in two glass sizes (starting at £3.70 for 175ml) or the bottle (ranging from £14.50 to £32). For a special occasion, a bottle of Dom Perignon Moet & Chandon 1990 is listed (£140), plus the full range of Young’s draught and bottled beers are on offer.