Sonny’s Kitchen, Barnes:
One of those pretty backwaters in London, Barnes seems to have somehow have escaped the over-development that plagues much of West London. Perhaps that’s because there’s no underground line that runs anywhere close. So to reach Sonny’s Kitchen (which is less than a couple of miles from where I live), I had to get on the tube to Kew and cadge a lift with my dining companion. I was excited to be visiting because it’s not that long since I went to Kitchen W8, another restaurant that falls under the wing of Rebecca Mascarenhas and Philip Howard and put it firmly on my personal favourites list. And so I had great expectations.
A friendly place with a number of distinct dining areas, this is a local bistro that punches above it’s weight. There’s a splendid sounding set lunch – two courses for £16.50 and three for £18.50 and I am quite sure I’d be visiting a lot more frequently if I lived in the area (or even if I could work out the vagueries of the London bus network. The bread was first class too, which is always a good sign.
I’d have liked to order the asparagus, but it came with a deep fried egg and losing half the dish seemed like missing the point. So, my companion ordered it, curious to find out how the egg was presented. The asparagus was beautifully cooked and the egg a gastronomical work of art, coated in golden breadcrumbs with a perfectly runny yolk, but his view was that the dish as a whole would have been improved by warm or at least room temperature asparagus.
My main course of roasted fillet of cod wrapped with lardo di colonnata was an experiment. I hadn’t tried lardo di colonnata before, though I’d heard it mentioned in hushed voices by some of my food loving friends. It comes from an area of Tuscany famous for its marble and this cured pigs fat, traditionally made in large marble basins has enjoyed IGP (protected geographical indication) status since 2004. Usually just eaten very finely sliced on a piece of bread, I was intrigued. Now, perhaps that was a foolish move on my part since I am not usually keen on ‘fatty’ products, but I do like cod wrapped in pancetta. In this case I really found the flavour of the lardo quite overwhelming and, like a heretic, removed it to enjoy the perfectly cooked cod on a bed of peas, spring onions and lettuce. You can just see it in the photo, a filmy wrapper of melted fat.
The skate wing ordered by my companion looked perfect to me, with a nutty brown beurre noisette with capers and our sides of french fries and spinach were pretty faultless.
For dessert I ordered the tarte fine of apples with vanilla ice cream while my companion asked for an English cheese platter.
Now, while I was in no doubt that I’d eaten enough, the chef brought us two very delicious lemon possets as a kind of pre-dessert. And, the apple tart was so delicious I managed to eat both!
I can’t quite rave about Sonny’s Kitchen as I did about Kitchen W8, partly because I simply didn’t enjoy the flavour combination of lardo and cod with delicate early summer vegetables. Having said that it’s very, very good. And some of the simple dishes sound exceptional (linguine with chicken stock, tarragon, butter and parmesan for instance). The prices are keen and the food is so much better than most local bistros of this type. Now I need an excuse to go back and check more of the menu;) – And if you eat with your eyes, well this place gets full marks – some of the most beautiful presentation in London.
94 Church Road