Swimming against the tide down the King’s Road Black Bream is a different kettle of fish, finds Jo
177 New King’s Road, London, SW6 4SW blackbreamsw6.co.uk
Surprisingly, Fulham’s New King’s Road is replete with chain pizzas or cafÃƒÂ©s rather than cosy local restaurants so we were keen to try Black Bream, which opened earlier this year and describes itself as a’social-eating house and neighbourhood restaurant’.
True to the colour theme, the modern-styled restaurant’s decor is black and, for me, a bit’office-soulless’ as a result, but the pink dry daiquiri brought to the table soon alleviated this monochrome interior: a coupe of El Dorado rum, Campari, lime and passionfruit certainly packed a pre-lunch punch.
At first glance, despite the blurb suggesting’British tapas’, the menu seems to be one of those that takes’international’ to the nth degree: from soothing Italian burrata with Italian heritage tomato salad and pesto to salmon tataki with salad Nicoise and quail’s egg; Herefordshire beef tartare; braised chickpeas, labneh, baba ganoush and micro naan; Cornish crab on brioche toast with Bloody Mary jelly.
The focus from chefs Alice Corino and Alessandro Scavino (formerly Caprice Holdings Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Rules, The Ivy, Le Caprice, Cantina del Ponte etc) is definitely on fish and seafood, but it was tricky to imagine some of these dishes working well together Ã¢â‚¬â€œ my advice would be to focus on just one area of the menu: fish, meat or veggie Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but charming and knowledgeable co-founder Leon Costa (who, with Simon Phillips, counts J-Sheekey, the Atlantic Bar, The Ivy, Le Caprice and Milk&Honey among previous workplaces), was able to steer us in the right direction.
Ideal for a leisurely catch-up lunch, our five sharing dishes were brought in stages, allowing us time to eat each dish while still hot. Presentation was excellent: colourful and alluring, with jade, turquoise and pink stoneware plates adding to the visual appeal.
Lobster and prawn gyoza with soy and sesame dressing were tasty, but the seafood flavours didn’t really come through enough and, at £13.50 for 4 gyoza, didn’t seem good value for money. The signature Black bream ceviche, leche de tigre and pink grapefruithowever, was a sensation and a dish I’d go back for again and again, with a glass of chilled rosÃƒÂ©, for a languid lunch.
Chunks of bream’cooked’ in a combo of 80% grapefruit juice and 20% of the more usual lime gave the dish more subtlety and depth, topped with a wonderful avocado purÃƒÂ©e, segments of pink grapefruit and crisp little discs of fried plaintain. Beautiful in every way.
Lobster and langoustine burger with spiced mayo (£9.50) was good, although the bun was a ad pappy and could have been better, but summer courgette salad and tempura courgette flower was another highlight: lovely chargrilled courgette contrasting well with the crispness of the tempura flower. We also enjoyed the chargrilled sardines and mixed herb dressing.
Desserts were fairly pedestrian by comparison: summer berry Eton mess (£5.50) was a bit heavy on the cream but looked sensational, while Ã¢â‚¬Â¯Ã¢â‚¬Â¯roasted peaches, Amoretti crumb and bitter chocolate ice creamÃ¢â‚¬Â¯Ã¢â‚¬Â¯Ã¢â‚¬Â¯(£6.50) offered a gorgeous combination of flavour and texture but lacked aesthetic appeal somehow, especially as the previous dishes had been such a treat for the eyes; more colour via almond vanilla ice cream and presentation in a colourful bowl rather than black cast-iron would improve the overall impression of brownness.
All in all, this local eatery is well worth the trip for a relaxed lunch or dinner and, if you choose wisely, offers good value for very competent cooking. The warm welcome makes it all the better, sadly not something you always find in a city where service can be rushed and impersonal.