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The Salisbury Tavern, Fulham SW6

Clifford Mould and friends enjoyed a great finale to the Golden Jubilee holiday 

I've recently returned from a very disappointing visit to Normandy, gastronomically, that is. The worst meal of five mostly indifferent ones was at an hotel in Caudebec, a charming riverside town on the banks of the River Seine. The main course consisted of a duck leg, not actually described as Confit de Canard, but that was essentially what it was. A pathetic wee limb came doused in a dull brown gravy with a few pieces of floury old boiled potato scattered carelessly over it. Such a ludicrous, amateurish offering would be laughed off the plate in London. Last night I chose the confit duck leg, one of the day's specials, at The Salisbury Tavern down the Hammersmith end of Fulham, where the chef is the talented Micky O'Connor.  Here, the leg was of generous size, tender texture and tasted of duck - I'd give it a quack factor of 8, which is very good. Its sauce, a Madeira jus, was intense and clung passionately to the meat without any trace of gloopiness - good cooking I'd call it. It was supposed to come with rosti, but the supporting cast seemed more likely to have been the honey soused vegetables that accompany the glazed breast of duck on the permanent menu. Rosti or not, the complete dish was professionally done and a delight to eat. It was better than anything I've eaten in France on three trips since Christmas.

The carrot and ginger soup had a good stock behind it, even if the use of ginger was just a bit timid. My Caesar salad was excellent, (purists might complain that it was meandering toward the Nicoise), but with the right kind of lettuce, plenty of shaved parmesan and a lovely soft egg, the presence of fresh anchovy didn't bother me one bit! Other starters included crispy fried squid in long strips dipped in tempura - enhanced by a tangy salsa. The wild mushroom ravioli was tasty, and the capuccino sauce impressed my guest. I wondered if the decoration of prawns was a garnish too far, but she said she loved it, so who am I to quibble? Her partner's Roquefort salad included two roasted red peppers stuffed with spinach which worked rather well offsetting  the piquancy of the cheese. 

My companions' main courses were every bit as good as my confit duck leg. The seabass had a marvellously crisp and caramelised skin that would have broken my heart if it had been left uneaten on the plate. It wasn't. The lamb rump came on a bed of white bean puree (another great idea I must copy), but it was just a little too rare: there's a delicate divide between a juicy pink interior and almost raw meat. But it too had a delicious dark reduction, which was definitely not the same as that on the duck. No short cuts there, I'm pleased to report! My wife's tuna steak was meaty and the timing here was perfect, seared on the outside and sweetly rare within. There are side vegetables, should you need them: we shared a tasty plate of mash and some very green beans and mange tout peas. 

The wine list is concise and well chosen. We particularly enjoyed a domaine bottled Fleurie "Les Moriers" from Michel Chignard, at £23.00. All the wines on the list are available by the glass at prices ranging from £2.80 to £10 for a domaine bottled Puligny-Montrachet. One could arrange an interesting wine dinner, the thought strikes me!

Puddings are simple classics, well executed. We had a sticky toffee pudding of which Delia would surely have approved, a nice chocolate mousse with a tiny helping of caramelised orange (must've been the last spoonful!) and an exceptionally well made lemon tart with a crunchy wholemeal base and an intense lemon flavour pervading the eggy centre.

Like many such establishments, the service seemed to be almost entirely in the hands of young antipodeans. They were obliging, charming, pretty and looked after us diligently and without attitude of any kind. They mended our self-destructing table, apologised for being out of South African Sauvignon Blanc, but brought a bottle of Kiwi Sauve instead, (and waived the difference in cost!) From the street you could be forgiven for thinking that the Salisbury Tavern is just another up market pub. The bar is buzzy, with club-like seating on a higher level. But the restaurant is comfortable and totally un pub-like, as one might expect from an interior designed by Nina Campbell. You need to know that it's there, and now you do!

Clifford Mould June 2002
Dine Online Highly Recommends:
The Salisbury Tavern
21 Sherbrooke Road, Fulham SW6
tel: 0207 381 4005

email:        Open every day for lunch and dinner

The cost of your meal: Starters around £7, mains £9 to £13.25, sides £2.25, puddings all £4.95, wines from "11 for Berry Bros' good ordinary claret.

There is a sibling of which we've heard good reports:

The Admiral Codrington
17 Mossop Street, Chelsea SW3
Tel: 0207 581 0005

UK Restaurant Reviews – The Best Of The Dine Online Restaurant Reviews 2001 - 2010

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