London SW6 5SA
Tel: 020 7384 9559
The Fulham Road is not somewhere I often venture . It’s all a bit too Made In Chelsea with organic smoothie shops full of SW’s finest spending their trust funds during the week, while we are all at work. The only time I ever venture down this way is if I’m escaping London and the A4 is jammed. The thing that has always struck me about this part of town when I’m on my detour is that it has such a lack of good places to eat. Yes, there is the Harwood Arms and if you are in the mood for Thai the Blue Elephant is a good bet but for the amount of money swashing around this neighbourhood I would expect a few more decent gaffs. Maybe dinner parties are still much the way forward in Fulham?
Making my way up the Fulham Road the other night, much to my surprise I discovered a Royal China nestled amongst a small parade of shops. My earlier question has been answered, the inhabitants of Fulham don’t need any restaurants because they don’t go out for dinner, they are far cleverer than that. They slip into their Jack Wills sweatpants, crack open a bottle of Burgundy and get a takeaway from Royal China.
Manson is located at 667 Fulham Road, a few doors up from Royal China. From the outside, Manson looks like any other south-west London watering hole. The awful word ‘gastropub’ would spring to mind. The decor inside is neutral, a homage to OKA, but it works. The bar area is small, ideal to grab a quiet drink but this is a hint that all the fun happens in the rest of the room, at the dinner table.
Alan Stewart is in charge in the kitchen accompanied by an impressive CV having worked at Gleneagles, Chez Bruce and most recently Launceston Place. A starter of tartar of venison with celeriac puree, pickled Scottish girolles and Kentish cobnuts should be his CV. Autumn on a plate with the dark magenta of the venison meat, which was lean and had a kick to it but it was the addition of beetroot which cut through the venison’s intensity that completed the dish.
The red leg partridge with quince, honey and oats was light and fruity, a last taste of summer despite being an autumn dish. It acted as a sort of game sorbet, between the punchy Venison and the grouse that followed.
The Yorkshire grouse that followed, ashamedly my first of the season, came with the breast served pink and the leg well done. The leg defined true game flavour and was not for the faint hearted. The bird was served with damsons and savoy cabbage and thinly cut slice of treacle loaf which was spread with a pate of grouse offal.
Not being a dessert man, preferring to ask for the extra spoon and have a mouthful of someone else’s, the apple tart was exemplary. I’ve never had an apple tart with such large chunks of apple; Braeburn’s from Kent.
The wine list alone is enough to get the locals to forgo dinner with chopsticks and head here. A 2008 Limousin Reserva, Marques de Riscal from Spain has Burgundian white characteristics that makes it a bargain at £32 and there are also some good value Bordeaux’s on the list.
The thing I admire about Chef Stewart is that he is trying to source as much of his produce locally. A number of the vegetables and herbs are from an allotment down the road and the honey that was used in the partridge dish is from Canada Water.
Manson has finally given me a reason to head to the Fulham Road. Oh, that and avoiding traffic jams…