I’ve always loved going to Sam’s. It’s my kind of place: a delicious blend of informality and sophistication with great food and excellent wine. As soon as you go into the brasserie, a large open dining area with bar that’s housed in a former warehouse (or so it looks from outside), there’s a kind of welcoming buzz that’s instantly appealing. The staff are always exceptionally friendly and efficient without in any way being obsequious, and the food is the kind of eclectic brasserie mix that means anyone should be able to find something to please them: from a Goat’s Cheese, Swiss Chard & Cherry Tomato Strudel, to a Goan Fish & Prawn Curry to an Aged Rib-Eye Steak. That said, it’s not a particularly large choice – nine main courses – but for me that’s a good sign. It says, this is what we’re cooking freshly today and indeed our menu tonight had today’s date printed on it.
Sam’s Brasserie is open for breakfast, coffee, light lunch, snacks, to a full three-course meal. Some nights they have live jazz or soul music or other events. It’s the kind of place that if you were lucky enough to live nearby you might find yourself taking up semi-residence.
I was introduced to Sam’s about five years ago by a friend who lived near and at that time I went quite regularly. I hadn’t been back for a while, though I’ve spoken of it often and recommended it. It was definitely time for a return visit so I suggested to my friend Liz that I pick her up in Kew and then it was a short trip across Kew Bridge and into Chiswick High Road where the brasserie is situated in Barley Mow Passage right near Turnham Green.
We arrived in time for their Early Bird Dinner Menu – two courses for £13.50/three courses for £16.50 – which is available Sunday to Thursday from 6.30-7.30. There’s a choice of three starters, three main courses and three puds. Liz went for the Cream of White Cabbage & Crispy Pancetta Soup while I chose Seared Chicken Livers on Toast with Tarragon Jus.
Liz found her soup a little too strongly seasoned but my chicken livers were perfection: they were deliciously soft and tender, delicately pink still and with a totally glorious, rich taste from the jus.
We both had Seared Sea Bream with Crushed Jersey Royals, French Beans and Salsa Verde for main courses. There was also a pasta or chicken choice.
The attractive looking plate lived up to its appeal. The fish was perfectly cooked and tasty; gorgeous little potatoes and al dente beans.
The desserts sounded good but being girls out midweek we decided we shouldn’t … another time … but we did have peppermint teas that nicely came in pots, so we had plenty. We’d also had glasses of wine with the meal. The bill at the end, £47 for two including 12.5% service, was good value I thought.
Sam’s is suitable for all kinds of occasions and there was a mix of ages there too. I really mustn’t – indeed, won’t – leave it so long before I go back again.