Chiswick House, Burlington Lane W4 2QN
tel: +44 (0)20 8995 6356
I've lived in Chiswick for nearly six years but only recently discovered Chiswick House. Of course, I'd heard of it but I had the impression it was just some grand old house set in a nice garden that you'd have to pay for the privilege to see. But one day whilst sitting at my hairdresser's, I was flipping through a Home and Garden magazine and saw an article about the cafe within the grounds. It raved not only about the modern architecture but the food itself. I admit to feeling a little ashamed for not being lured to Chiswick House by the centuries of history, but rather by the promise of a tasty lunch.
Chiswick House was built in the 1700s, so the new cafe with its clean lines and white stone is quite the juxtaposition. It feels more Italy than England. And when in Rome...what better way to spend a lunch than al fresco.
The menu is impressive and certainly not your standard canteen fare. There are thick sandwiches filled with ingredients like taleggio, thyme and roast red onion or Piedmontese pepper and and buffalo mozzarella that all hover around the £5 mark. There are savory tarts, salads, hearty stews and sausages and mash. The menu changes once a month and tries to stick to the seasons.
On my first visit, I opted for the soup of the day - butternut squash with pumpkin, served with a slice of sourdough bread (£3.95). It was served in one of the most adorable mini-cauldrons I've ever seen, accompanied by a thick slice of sourdough bread. The soup was thick and perfectly spiced, each spoonful a delight of autumnal flavours. The bread was still warm and the sourness provided the perfect partner to the sweetness of the squash.
For my second visit on a gorgeous February day, I ordered a cauliflower, spinach and potato curry served with naan bread (£8.50). It was nicely spiced with hints of cardamon and ginger. It was missing a tiny something, but then I found a lone slice of lime hidden under my naan. That was the ticket. For a small bowl, it was remarkably filling and sadly I didn't have room to stuff any of the mouthwatering selection of cakes, meringues, crumbles, brownies and flapjacks down my gob. There's also hand-roasted coffee, pots of tea, posh juices, wine and bottled beer. For early birds, the cafe serves breakfast from 0830 everyday. The choices look tasty: sausage sandwiches, eggs benedict, smoked salmon portobello mushrooms on sourdough toast and a traditional full-English fry-up. The surroundings are gorgeous, the architecture impressive, but still it's likely still the food that I'll return for. There's hardly a nicer place to have an al fresco lunch in the wilds of west London.