Sunday, 3 March 2013

Cordon Du Chap: Sand's End

135-137 Stephendale Road

Cordon Du Chap: ❁❁❁

The Harwood Arms garnered a lot of press last year as the first Michelin starred gastropub in the UK (if not the world) with its inventive menu combining esoteric ingredients like oxtail and snails, cold chicken and candied hazelnuts and bringing old classics like brawn back to the attention of the nation’s palettes. However its sister restaurant, The Sands End, is as good if not in many ways better, and well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Tucked away in a residential street just off Wandsworth Bridge Road, The Sands End looks like any other better-than-average pub, but wait until you see the menu! Unlike the Harwood arms the team here have not tried to be too over-ambitious in their combinations. There is much to be admired about a menu which matches tried and tested ingredients effectively, while keeping them contemporary and entertaining. 

The flair and skill in the cooking really shines through the well considered portions, the excellent cooking and the balance of flavours. This is the sort of place you could take the fussiest of eaters and I guarantee that they would find something they want to eat on the menu. 

There is a fabulous daily menu choc-full of hearty dishes such as: braised ham hock with parsley sauce and root vegetables; Loin and belly of Middle White pork, braised cabbage & bacon, crushed potatoes and a daily home-made pie. For those with less of an appetite they have a range of tasty bar snacks, such as plaice goujons, steak tartare, duck rillette and sharing boards of artisan charcuterie. Puddings range from green apple & Aspall cider trifle to fresh waffle, pistachios, honey, yoghurt ice cream. 

On a recent trip I sampled their reasonably priced set menu which really shows off the skill of the kitchen. the wafer-thin rare roast beef topped with watercress and a mustard dressing was followed by the most delicious homemade linguine and silver mullett (pan-fried with a caper laden buerre noisette). All this was finished off with a delicately poached pear with honey and mascarpone ice cream. 

Yesterday I was treated to a delicious smoked salmon tartare with a fresh pickled cucumber relish followed up with a truly spectacular chestnut gnocchi topped with delicately cooked chanterelle mushrooms and roasted salsify. Every component was masterfully cooked and there were certainly no complaints from this corner. 

There is a substantial drinks menu and some very nice ales on tap, in particular I was please to see Black Sheep bitter (a favourite of mine from university days) as well as a jug of some homemade bloody mary mix. There were also some nice looking magnums of Provencal Rose chilling in an ice bucket on the bar counter.

The service is very friendly if a little sporadic, so make sure you are in no hurry over your lunch and avoid taking impatient friends or relatives. However this is a mere quibble when compared to all the positives that this establishment has going for it. In any case I thoroughly recommend you make a trip to Stephendale Road and discover this great place for yourself. 

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