There’s a kind of ubiquitous mediocrity in the Sunday lunch offerings on pub menus up and down the country. One or two components of the final product always elicit a cutting mutter under one’s breath – “I could have done that better at home” – whether it’s overdone meat, soggy honey-roast carrots, or insipid, loose, watery gravy resembling an opaque brown puddle in a jug a Hobbit would consider small.
Rising above it all like a good Yorkshire pudding is Brook House, a pub-cum-restaurant, opened by the team once behind local public house stalwarts the Sands End, Cross Keys and Brown Cow. It occupies an area of relative restaurant purgatory on the New King’s Road opposite the Eel Brook. Inside, though, lies a space which can only be described as a land of milk and honey.
Dark wood, subtle green leather banquettes and an enormous tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden-like dining room (hopefully containing no silver-tongued serpents) almost provide a mirror image of the lush green expanse across the road, with almost floor-to-ceiling windows allowing the maximum natural light to illuminate the space.
Seats at the expansive bar just about remind you that you are entering what is essentially a pub, manned by friendly, welcoming staff, waiting to indulge you with the usual selection of beers, spirits and also, ten, yes ten, wines on draught. The rest of the wine list presents a strong, varied range adorned with classic choices and New World alike. The 2016 Macon-Villages at £32 a bottle (also available out of the tap) certainly didn’t disappoint.
The Sunday lunch menu itself also demonstrates great variation with seasonal dishes such as wild garlic and potato soup, coupled with pub classics such as a scotch egg, oysters, and ham hock pies. Steak tartare can often be subject to many pitfalls. The beef can be overly chopped, almost minced, and eventually resembling goopy roadkill on a plate, however the well-textured, perfectly seasoned and spiced offering here was nothing short of stupendous. The pig’s head croquettes and chunky sauce gribiche are not to be missed either.
On to the spectre of the Sunday bump in the road. Was it going to deliver after the strength of the starters? I can in all honesty say that what followed was nothing short of the best pub Sunday lunch I’ve ever experienced. An enormous cote de boeuf for two to share, at a reasonable £60 and as thick as the Oxford English Dictionary, was so tender my knife practically fell through it. Crisp potatoes deep-fried in duck fat (I know, right), crunchy green beans, and roasted veg were perfectly executed and flawlessly seasoned. The behemoth Yorkshire puddings provided the ideal vehicle to soak up the heavily reduced, sticky and velvety madeira jus – sorry, gravy.
It’s also great to see the incredibly rare Middlewhite pig being championed as a sharing roast. Roast chervil roots bring something refreshing and new to the usual fare, although the outrageously decadent showstopper has to be the apple tarte fine biding its sweet time underneath the deluge of generosity, to be devoured if there’s any room left.
If it’s possible to make it to the puddings (I was still full nearly twenty-four hours after the meal) then the rich chocolate cremeux with Earl Grey ice cream and the rhubarb and custard with brandy snaps (wafer-thin, Monsieur Creosote) expertly crafted by local superstar pastry chef, Olivia Hudson. Both are worth making room for.
When any new hospitality venture opens its doors for the first time, there are always teething problems and various glitches in the system. And yet, though Brook House had barely been open for forty-eight hours when we settled into our Sunday feast and the quality of the food, the professionalism and friendliness of the service showed no signs of this to the customer. Having returned many times since I’m glad to report the offerings have maintained that extraordinarily high mutter-proof standard.
65 New King’s Road, Fulham, London SW6 4SG