|Grandma Knows Best|
A hearty meal and a shot of vodka at the Patio Restaurant
On a visit to your grandmother, you might expect to be offered a hearty meal, just to make sure you are eating properly, you might use crockery that has been in service since the Second World War and you might even get a little bit tipsy on some sherry. A visit to the Patio Restaurant on Goldhawk Road feels like quite a similar experience.
There is absolutely nothing pretentious about Patio. From the moment you step inside, you feel as though you are in somebody's living room, and that 'somebody' is down-to-earth and eschews the latest trends in interior design. The carpet and table cloths are a very traditional red, the walls are decorated with a confusion of pictures and in the corner stands a grandfather clock. The menu is even hand-written and no typewriter or – heaven forbid- computer has been anywhere near it.
The set menu at Patio seemed like such a good deal that we didn't even bother to look at the regular one: for £16.50 you get a starter, a main course, a dessert or coffee and a shot of vodka, and there is a long list of each to choose from. The waitress recommended cherry vodka “for the ladies”, but I disobeyed and went for lemon instead which sent a burning sensation down my throat when I drank it. Perhaps I should have listened. My dining companion tried the bison grass variety which was milder but still strong enough to warm you up on a cold June day.
As Patio is a Polish restaurant, the menu featured goodies such as blinis, smoked salmon, potato pancakes, soured cream and bortsch. For our starters we chose fresh asparagus with garlic butter and white borstch with country sausage. As soon as the asparagus was put down in front of me, I could smell the garlic, which was a good sign. And although the asparagus turned out to be a bit on the woody side, the garlic butter more than made up for this. The white borstch was a meal in itself and as well as the expected cabbage and sausage, it also contained an egg and a very generous helping of sour cream.
When the main course was served, the waitress arrived with so many dishes that we though she had perhaps made a mistake. We had ordered duck a la Polonaise and smoked haddock with dill sauce, but after these came a plate of fried potatoes, as well as a cabbage and carrot dish and a celery salad. It was much, much more than we had expected and was all included in the price of the set meal.
The generous duck portion had been cooked in a sweet plum sauce and was beautifully crispy, rather reminiscent of Beijing duck. The sauce that accompanied the smoked haddock, however, was a bit too gloopy to be enjoyable but once this had been scraped away, the fish itself was good. The extra dishes were all very welcome but we were unable to finish any of them as it was more than we could manage.
There was something quite endearing about the eclectic, non-matching crockery that the food was served on: a white plate here, a silver platter there and a couple of flowery dishes that probably once belonged to a set. The service was swift and attentive all the way through but curiously, and despite the prime location on Shepherd's Bush Green, we were the only diners visiting for lunch, bar a couple who popped in for a quick snack before disappearing again.
After our main course, the waitresses brought us a bowl of orange segments and cherries to share as well as a plate of small cakes. However, this was not dessert, merely an unannounced extra. The pudding included in the set menu was a choice between pancakes with cheese or chocolate mousse, which we could have ordered on top of everything else, but by this time there was no question of us eating any more. We ordered a couple of coffees instead and nibbled on the fruit.
The final bill came to £37.70 which was for two set meals, a bottle of sparkling water and some bread and butter. Value for money is an understatement. We staggered out of The Patio, not because we are vodka wimps but simply because we had eaten so much. Grandma had taken good care of us.
14 June 2009