'Delicate flavours from the creamy sauce complemented the charred asparagus'

Charlotte’s Bistro

Open Mon–Thu midday–9.30pm; Fri midday–10pm; Sat 9am–10pm and Sun 9am–9.30pm

The blurb

During the summer months, most Londoners will experience a desire to escape the humid city. Despite being just at the western edge, Chiswick still offers that feeling of having reached suburbia while still being extremely easy to get to. Tucked away under an awning off Chiswick High Road and behind large bi-folding doors that are pushed back the moment there’s the hint of any sunshine lies Charlotte’s Bistro, warmly lit and with an inviting buzz.

The style

Relaxed and worlds away from a cramped dining room in ‘the big smoke’. Playing soulful tunes (from Mr Scruff to jazzier music), there’s also a large conservatory-style room at the back. You can’t top off a summer’s evening in Turnham Green without a trip to Charlotte’s.

The crowd

A quiet and relaxed neighbourhood vibe, with couples meeting after work and groups of friends holding deep conversations, it’s where one might choose to hold a small, intimate dinner party.

The food

Presentation and service throughout the evening was flawless. My mackerel tartare quashed any prior aversion I had to the fish, and arrived decorated with a spotted pattern of oyster mayonnaise and enormous seaweed crackers. My partner—an avid meat eater—surprisingly opted for the warm asparagus and egg béarnaise sauce, beautifully designed on the plate. Light and delicate flavours from the creamy sauce complemented the charred flame grilled asparagus, although he felt it needed a something extra to ‘jazz it up’. With three courses and an aperitif for £29.50 on their Early Diner Offer (5.30pm–7pm), you can’t really go wrong.

For the main course I tucked into a summery plate of roast cod with chorizo and black rice with fennel, and my guest savoured (and was reluctant to share) his roasted lamb breast with braised baby gem. The cod was superb and fell apart in chunky, fresh flakes, and my only qualm was that I was left with quite a lot of black rice by the end—but always better to have some extra than be left hungry in my opinion. The breast of lamb was perfectly cooked, flavoursome and tender, with a memorable and moreish bacon, pea and mint combo.

The dessert menu at Charlotte’s looks absolutely delicious, with lots of things we wanted to try. We could have ordered anything, which is just as well, because while I nipped to the bathroom my partner got mixed up with all the pavés, parfaits, polenta and pistachios on the menu and confused my request of ‘lemon parfait’ with ‘polenta and pistachio cake’. I note he managed get his own choice—chocolate and Irish cream pavé—correct! I couldn’t stay angry with him for too long, however, because I was a curious to try polenta cake, and also hoped it was a slightly healthier choice than the iced lemon parfait.

The puddings are really the cherry on top of the bistro—summing up a perfect evening of food, drink, and service. The chocolate and Irish cream pavé was absolutely divine, the perfect amount of richness served with caramel ice cream, and my polenta and pistachio cake couldn’t have been paired better than with its Greek yoghurt sorbet. It was light, crumbly yet moist, delicate flavours of pistachio ebbing through, with a chilled, tangy, and fresh yoghurt sorbet to bring all the flavours and textures together.

The drink

The Charlotte’s Bistro team, while utterly brilliant in terms of food creation, are also alarmingly talented and inspiring in their ability to whip up a cocktail. The bar staff were passionate and knowledgeable about flavours, botanicals, and spirits from around the world, including but not limited to gin, vermouth, rums, whiskies and aperitivos.

We were ushered onto two coveted bar stools (it’s often a squeeze on a busy night, which is most nights) to try two summery concoctions created by the bar team with local produce. Tom, the head bartender, had arrived to work that morning and designed a Basil Chelsea Sidecar with gin, Cointreau and lemon juice after an impulsive purchase of fresh basil. Inside the drinks menu is a fantastic array of cocktails with great pun-inspired names such as ‘A Long Slow Hello’ and ‘The Last Herd’, with bottled beers and an array of wines to choose from as well. Wines are served by the glass, carafe, or bottle, and our 2014 Chenin Blanc from Vouvray, Loire proved to be the crisp accompaniment we wanted with our meal (£19.25 for a carafe).

In a nutshell

Please may I go back for more?

The details:

Charlotte’s Bistro, 6 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick W4 1QP; www.charlottes.co.uk/bistro; 020 8742 3590

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