Sunday, 18 November 2012

Green Man and French Horn

The Green Man is the fourth opening from chef  Ed Wilson and partners.The others, Terriors, Brawn, and Soif are the other elements of this ever expanding and successful mini empire. Since opening it has received at least two national newspaper reviews and has been the subject of other positive reviews. This former pub occupies a slim site on the perimeter of a very busy Covent Garden. The interior is bare brick, tile and parquet floors with exposed ventilation pipes. Seating is cramped especially at the rear. It is not possible to hold a private conversation even if you or your near neighbours whisper. Every word is audible. Not good, not good at all.  The best tables for two are in the middle of the long slim room, or if you wish you could eat at the bar.

I am led to believe that the hand written menu changes daily. It was certainly different from the one that was on their website that morning. It was all simple fare, nothing mucked about with, just the sort of stuff any competent home cook could put on the table at home. The theme of the restaurant is The Loire, but on today's menu nothing jumps out as being specific to that area.

Bread was just OK. Having said that someone has mentioned it is from St John bakery, but if it is I'm afraid it did not shine for me. Thankfully though it was replenished throughout the meal as we needed it to mop up the juices from the two main courses that we ate.

Soup is not something my wife would normally choose but she needed some autumn comfort and Pheasant and Lentil (£7) fitted the bill nicely. We both tucked into this. It was hearty with nutty lentils. The broth had good depth of flavour but for me lacked a bit of seasoning. Strangely enough there was no salt or pepper on the table. Mind you having said that there was barely enough room for plates, wine and water glasses, never mind anything else. Slightly off putting were the numerous sharp pheasant bones in the broth. Fortunately none of them spiked us.

We can't resist a nice Rillette. We have had rillette before at Terroirs and Brawn and I assume that this is a standard recipe made with pork. So Rillette & Cornichons (£6.50)

Not bad really. Portion size was generous. This was not as tasty as I remember and it was a bit too fatty and certainly needed the sharp cournichons to cut through it.

Of  the four dishes under the Meat and Game listing only the Partridge dish appealed but we both really fancied something fishy and there was slightly more choice under the Fish and Seafood list. There were seven fish dishes on offer including the now ever so fashionable Slip Sole,  some Brill, an unfashionable Gurnard and a Scallop dish. I chose the promising sounding Surf Clams, fennel and Dill (£12)

For some reason the buttery broth at the bottom of the bowl had a lot more intense flavour of clam than the clams themselves, which were slightly bland. Perfect marriage of flavours though with the diced fennel and dill.

Bags of flavour in the Mouclade of Mussels (£10) and again a generous helping.

OK. So fat juicy steamed mussels in a creamy lightly curried sauce. Plenty of butter in the sauce and plenty of sauce to be mopped up with the bread. Currently this is my favourite way of eating mussels. I cooked some at home a couple of weeks ago and the only difference between my dish and this one was the curry used in the sauce, and of course there can be quite a variation. As has been mentioned above seasoning varied. This dish was over seasoned, but that was not so very important for me. We both still enjoyed it.

We skipped desserts, we were full.

If you like natural wines you will be at home here. We are not wine oriented preferring to focus on food. Wine is available by the glass, pichet or bottle. We had a pichet which was sufficient to last through the meal.

As you can see by the pricing, you can eat here for very little money. Pricing is fair and the cooking is simple, very simple. Its not a place I would dash back to. Its fine for a pit stop but there is no way that I would tolerate sitting at the rear of the restaurant again as it is far to intimate. Besides which, I like to choose my dining companions.

Green Man & French Horn on Urbanspoon Square Meal

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