There’s been a bit of excitement brewing in Shepherd’s Bush Road for a few months; the main road that runs from Hammersmith Broadway to Shepherd’s Bush. It was some time last summer that Lawrence Hartley and Tim Healy – who already own two of my favourite restaurants, Joe Allen and Orso – told me of their plans for Mustard. Mustard is to be a chain of British brasseries offering all-day eating at prices that offer great value for money. They plan to open ten restaurants within the next five years. The best comparison, to put Mustard into context, is Côte, which offers the French brasserie experience. Mustard, however, is firmly British based, its menu offering seasonal British ingredients sourced from the nation’s best artisan producers.
It’s Mustard’s British food concept that is so exciting for, frankly, where on earth does one go to eat good British food at affordable prices? If money is no object, then head to the famous Rules in Covent Garden, but for most of us, that’s way outside our pocket. London has gone so cosmopolitan – and that’s great too; I’m not complaining – that it’s hard to find good traditional British food. But now we have Mustard. Of course, given the owners’ background and experience, it offers something more exciting than a simple cottage pie. This is British food that’s been given a modern twist. Working with Tim and Lawrence is third owner, Jason Wild, formerly head chef of the famous Daphne’s in Chelsea and once executive chef at the Royal Opera House.
Mustard may be aiming for a relaxed brasserie ambience – and it certainly achieves it – but there is that sophisticated touch which is a trademark of these restaurateurs. The exterior (see top photo) with its black paint, yellow awnings and black and white tiled frontage immediately catches your eye. And it immediately gets across the message that this is a restaurant with style. Inside you are greeted by a fabulous bar area, perfect for maybe a cocktail before eating, or waiting for a table at busy times. They’ve retained some of the original features from the site’s past history as a David Greig (a Victorian grocer); the walls are painted in colours that breathe Farrow & Ball (even if they’re not; I didn’t ask). It may be a new restaurant, but already there’s a warm glow of welcome.
Lawrence and Tim had kindly invited me along for the soft opening over the weekend – the restaurant officially opens tomorrow, 1 March. Jonathan, Lyndsey and Freddie came with me – and a great family outing for Sunday lunch it was too. Freddie was given a high chair and kids menu. Cocktails were offered – I went with a virgin kind as I was driving. We also ordered a basket of their poppy seed bloomer bread (£2.95) – mainly because Freddie will sit happily in a high chair with some good bread to hand, watching all the activity around him. He liked the herb butter that came with this too!
The menu choice is extensive. If you come for breakfast you could enjoy a full English (or even Full Mustard) breakfast for £8.25 and there’s a vegetarian (Green) version too at £7.95. There’s treacle cured bacon with green herb oat pudding and a fried free range egg; smoked haddock with a spinach, kale and potato omelette. For something more simple you could choose traditional English crumpets or sticky malt loaf – both bringing memories of my childhood. However, we were there for lunch (though we’ll have to go back for breakfast sometime!). Dishes are nicely categorised: ‘Coastal Waters’ with Mustard Fishcake Sandwich, Natural Smoked Haddock, Organic Salad of Confit of Salmon. From ‘The Allotment’ a vegetarian could choose Roast Roots and Wheat Berries, Green Spring Risotto or Buckwheat and Sour Cream Pasta. There are ‘Seasonal Favourites’ which include Slow Cooked Gloucester Old Spot Ham, Braised Scotch Beef Cheek and Stinking Bishop Tart. A whole section of ‘Naturally Reared Beef’ choices include burgers, 28-day aged sirloin or rib-eye steaks or Cold Rare Roast Beef. Unsurprisingly, it took us a while to choose with a few false starts as we kept changing out minds. Even Freddie’s kids menu was quite extensive from pasta to chicken and fishcake. We chose a Vegetable Rice Cake (£5) for him, which came with chips and peas.
For a starter, Jonathan chose on Tim’s recommendation Crispy Free Range Pork Belly with Spiced Crab Apple Sauce (£4.75) (and had taken a bite from one bit before I got my camera out!).
I was given a taste: it was meltingly tender and really delicious. Lyndsey and I both chose Gin Soaked Organic Cured Salmon with Sour Cream & Pickles (£6.75), which we loved.
Freddie meanwhile was tucking into his rice cake – Lyndsey said it was so good she could have eaten it herself.
For Freddie – his first birthday only a few days ago – these were his first chips. And he loved them just as kids always do … but also the rest of his meal. We said it was nice to have a good choice of real food for kids, perhaps a reflection of all the owners having kids and knowing not just what they want but what we like to feed them.
We all went with different main. Jonathan had a burger with cheese (£9.95 + £1.50 for cheese).
It looked great and he said it was excellent. Lyndsey opted for Fish Pie (£12.50) and a side of spring greens, which was also very good.
My choice was Braised Scotch Beef Cheek in ale with horseradish and glazed carrots (£14.95). I ordered a side of creamed potatoes to go with it.
I’ve never cooked beef cheek but I think I will now. It was so tasty and gorgeously tender in a rich, delicious sauce. Even the little carrots were full of sweet flavour, demonstrating how Mustard really does care about the provenance of their produce.
We ordered the house red wine – a Nero d’Avola – at £17.50 a bottle to go with our meal, which was very good. But in keeping with its British theme, Mustard also offers a lot of British wines, from sparkling wines from Dorset, West Sussex and Hampshire to a Chardonnay from Kent and Pinot Gris from West Sussex.
Jonathan was too full for dessert but Lyndsey and I couldn’t resist. She went for a Flourless Chocolate Cake (£5.95).
And I opted or Almond and Blood Orange Cake (£5.50).
They were both very good and good-sized portions too. Freddie helped us out, eating small pieces we gave him. After sitting in his high chair for two hours and eating more than we’d ever known him to before, Mustard was clearly a hit with him. When I take Freddie out, I often tell him we’re going on an adventure (even if it’s to the local café!). But the outing to Mustard had truly been an adventure because it was a journey into some gorgeous British food which is really quite hard to come by. Mustard is such an exciting new venture. Its first location in this part of West London is an ideal, vibrant place to be … but Lyndsey is hoping they come to Whitton sometime! Or certainly closer to Twickenham. If I could walk here, I’d be at Mustard all the time, and it’s somewhere I could comfortably eat alone if I wanted, but as it is, luckily for me, it’s not too far away and we’re sure to go back soon. It could be a great brunch place at the weekends and there’s a set menu available daily from 12 noon – 7.00pm (2 courses £9.95; 3 courses £12.95). Good luck to Mustard! They deserve for this to be a great success.
To find out more about Mustard click here.
We ate as guests of Mustard.