It’s not often I hang out in West London, and I could probably count on one hand, the number of times I’ve been to Shepherd’s Bush. I’d hazard a guess it was to visit the Hammersmith Apollo or Westfield Shopping Centre. Otherwise, SheBu – as the cool kids call it – is just not on my radar.
But an invitation to review the new Mustard restaurant in Brook Green – about half way between Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush tube stations – lured us out this way recently. And while Mustard may not be a restaurant you’d travel right across town to visit, you may well consider it if you are headed this way for a shopping fest, a live gig at the Apollo, or indeed, are lucky enough to live right by it.
Aside from various newsagents, tailors and independent shops, here’s not an awful lot going on along Shepherd’s Bush Road in terms of restaurants, so you won’t have a hard job of spotting Mustard’s sleek black front and yellow awning.
Outside, it has pavement seats for when the weather allows for outside brunching. You may even skip the first two courses and enjoy dessert and cigarettes, as a group of sophisticates were when we visited.
Inside, they’ve done a super job of giving it a homely bistro feel. Tan leather banquette seats meet glossy wooden tables and gold brass rails with those traditional half-height bistro curtains. Cute fresh flower arrangements bring a pop of colour to each table and the waiters were pleasingly quick to serve our drinks.
We were told the air-con was broken which was nice of them to inform us, but I didn’t notice in the slightest – probably because my own new build apartment is like living in a boiler cupboard at this time of year.
Starters arrived with almost impossible speed and BC’s pork belly was not at all what we expected. It was served croquette-style in a tiny bowl sprinkled with bay leaves and the bed of apple sauce was not at all spicy, as the menu suggested. However, the pork belly itself was flavoursome and not too fatty.
The portion of Cornish calamari was surprisingly generous. The batter was crisp and the garlic mayo was nice. The only caveat was, they were described as ‘lightly fried’ which I assumed meant they would not have so much of the batter coating. Not one to begrudge batter of any sorts (even if I was trying to find a healthy option’), I enjoyed the dish a lot.
Mains arrived at an equally speedy rate and the lamb stew arrived with quite a watery consistency. I think however; we were a bit too quick to judge. This dish was tasty, tender and achieved a nice wholesome balance of meaty, peppery and vegetable flavours. We were also impressed by the dreamy, creamy, buttery mash BC ordered on the side. Thumbs up.
On my side of the table, I sliced into a fillet of hake, baked in rosemary and caper salt with a side of chips. The garden salad was as fresh as can be and succeeded to an extent, in balancing out the saltiness of the fish. But the salt levels were just a bit high for me.
That said, the fish itself was cooked very well with a soft middle and I love to see capers on a fish dish. Did I want mustard with my fish? It felt fitting, as we were dining in Mustard. after all. But for me, this is a condiment that only belongs with sandwiches, hotdogs and maybe steak, but definitely not fish or chips. Thoughts?
For dessert, I swerved my gut reaction of ordering the rhubarb crumble to go for our waiter’s recommendation for the almond and orange with sour cream. Sadly, it was dry, lacking in flavour and was begging to be eaten with a big pot of tea at around 4 o’clock, with a bigger dose of orange zest (and bigger dollop of cream). I learnt my lesson. Always order crumble. Even if the air con is broken and it’s the middle of er, summer.
BC’s lemon Eton Mess however, was a winner. It was citrusy, light and fluffy. And inhaled within minutes.
By the time we got up to leave, we had seen only perhaps five or six tables having dinner in the restaurant and it was still showing signs that it maybe didn’t yet have a loyal following of customers.
All in all, we felt this restaurant definitely cut the mustard (sorry). It offers cheery service, pleasant chatty staff and a lovely bistro setting with generous plates of food at very reasonable prices. The only thing that Mustard is missing on a Saturday night? People. I hope it’s not long before they come.
Until next time x
Oh So London was a guest of Mustard – all views here are my own.