I didn't dislike the Hampshire Hog, well, not much. But I certainly didn't like it enough to venture back, at least not without very good reason. There for a business meeting on the recommendation of a couple of locals, I'd had a fleeting thought that I'd found a new local gem.
The decor manages to channel Jamie Oliver and Laura Ashley at the same time, but the shabby chic rustic air of a country tea room is likely only to fool those who haven't left zone 2 for a very long time.
It's a radio edit Mumford & Sons sort of place... The homely farmhouse look might come into its own on a sunny weekend, when I can imagine locals flocking to the lush beer garden, but on a random weekday lunch, other than a few Bugaboo toting mummies, we're almost alone in this West London 'Chiswick borders' pub.
Alongside a sanded down pale wood bar serving a reasonable selection of ales to the local Henrys and Jemimas, is a dining room and a 'parlour' with a few odds and sods for sale, nothing too risky, a couple of shelves of groceries and breads alongside posh 'bits' and locally sourced tracklements (or pickles as normal people refer to them) and the like.
It's in the dining room that you really start paying the price for this unfettered rusticania. If you're stupid enough to buy your bread from the local pub then you deserve to be charged through the nose for it, but £2.50 for a few slices in the adjoining restaurant feels sharp in anyone's book. It's pretty good bread (unlike the acrid oil it's served with), but it's been a while since I've even seen a cover charge, let alone one that steep.
This sharpness continues with the salads. You can have it unadorned for £12 (really?!) or 'add' salmon or ham, allegedly supplementary ingredients in a salmon or ham salad, for £2 a pop.
They're at the upsell again with the sides, slightly more to be expected I suppose, but adding £3.50 for frankly poor chips is frustrating. The fact we are told that most of the mains need an extra something takes the average main course price past the £18-£20 price point and into the "it better be bloody superb" mark.
So (finally) to the food...sadly, with the exception of that lovely bread it just didn't achieve for either of us.
"This is why people originally made fish cakes of course," ventured my guest of his solitary desiccated puck. "it's definitely the old, dry fish they couldn't use elsewhere.."
I was slightly more pleased with a reasonably sourced piece of ribeye from O'Shays. It was a nice piece of meat sadly marred by that capital sin of not being rested, arriving still taut and virtually still crying after it's recent application of heat. The salted chips were too rested sadly and clumped together sullenly on the side.
I don't want to labour the point, but given that you can pick up 2 course lunch menus for £20 at many Michelin starred places in arguably more expensive locations, and would pay less than £9 for 2 courses at Zedel, this pricing for the level of quality delivered verges on the ridiculous. Lovely beer garden though...