The far flung reaches of West London zone 6 hold little for the foodie, is The White Bear is a well deserved breath of fresh air for the area?
Disclosure: I was not invited to review, I paid for my visit.
There really isn't much choice around the A40 corridor, which is why it's so thankfully served by so many regular tube lines. So when a new restaurant opened in Ruislip I had to go see what it had to offer.
Sunday lunch is sacred in this land, and judging a restaurant on its Sunday lunch is a reliable way of making sure they care about everything, not just riding off a signature dish. My good lady wife and I went along following a fabulously attentive twitter convo with their manager, booked in for a midday lunch.
The positively chirpy sign outside is a mark of good things to come. Inside, the clean-cut and well ordered restaurant is buzzing with fresh expectation and smart brasserie furnishings. The White Bear is part of a chain competing in the 'chic brasserie' style market and seems to be pulling it off well so far. Ruislip's newest restaurant opened with much acclaim and high confidence.
Sitting within view of the hustling kitchen, I was worried about noise and clatter but the dining experience wasn't interrupted, moreover it made me feel better about the whole culinary experience, however cleverly contrived it may be.
Front of house smiles certainly make the whole experience a pleasant one.
With comforting regularity, I chose the Beef whilst my wife opted for chicken, and what an interesting style they've chosen. The beef rare as it should be, although I do wonder if it was water-bathed as there was none of the lovely beefy fat maillard so championed by the roasting process. Roasties were crisp and light, but again missing the mark slightly; I think overdone before being held and crisped in the deep-fryer. The Yorkshire pudding although a decent size used a light pancake batter - most likely done to keep it healthy but good dripping instead would have given some proper flavour. Oh - and vegetable crisps on a Sunday lunch? Starting to lose faith in it all to be honest.
The dessert cheese plate enters the scene priced at £7.60. This is not much cheese for £7.60. They could have added value by toasting the walnuts or adding some chutney, or at the very least some more cheese. Most people go to restaurants to get food they can't at home, or to try new things they may not have thought of. Easy to calc this dessert, probably 60p cost, £7 was just profit and a bitter taste in the pocket.
All was not lost however! There are touches of class at the White Bear Ruislip: The caramel soufflé with rum and raisin ice cream was a crowning glory and the saving grace of the meal. Comments like "it's the best I've ever had" is high praise indeed from my connoisseurial partner.
The White Bear Ruislip - A good gastro-pub/brasserie with a solid formula applied by the group. A fantastic breath of fresh air in Ruislip and staff working hard, however still needs tweaking to make it a regular spot; there's so much potential here but the recipes need enhancing.
I reckon the White Brasserie Company believes their only competition is the Harvester or Beefeater, forgetting that we've got London's shining top drawer restaurants just a tube line away.
For more details and to book: www.whitebearruislip.com
To see where the Sunday Lunch high-bar standard has been set, see The Three Oaks in Gerrards Cross.