Review: Church Road, Barnes
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Review: Church Road, Barnes

Church Road is a restaurant well-worth heading out west for, finds Anastasia Bernhardt

Has anyone else noticed that London has turned into a doughnut? All the good sugary stuff is now at the edges, but the middle has been wrought somewhat hollow. It’s sad news for the centre, but neighbourhood restaurants have never had it better.

Church Road in Barnes is one of those places that we’d all love to have on the doorstep. Heavyweight chef patron (Phil Howard), tick. Restaurateur who has a personal connection (Rebecca Mascarenhas, who opened Sonny’s Kitchen on this same site 33 years previously), tick, tick. And a decent wine list. Tick, tick, tick.

My memory of Church Road is a little hazy. Firstly, I visited at the end of last year, in the heady pre-Covid days when lamppost licking was a perfectly acceptable pastime. Secondly, I make all my notes on my iPhone, which some light-fingered individual claimed for their own in Naples. Thirdly, I spent all evening discussing engagement rings with my friend Pip (shameless plug incoming) the founder of Meghan Markle’s favourite shirt brand, With Nothing Underneath. And who, as the former jewellery editor of Tatler, happens to have a side venture advising on engagement rings for clueless men – and me. Fourthly, what I remember to be a smashing evening had somewhat of a smashing finish: poor Pip’s Citroen C3 had its window battered in somewhere between the starter and the dessert.

Church Road

Church Road’s rump of aged Dexter beef with truffled baked potato. Photo: Andrew Hayes-Watkins

Now I’ve got my excuses out of the way, what I will say is a respected journalist once admitted to me that she never took notes when reviewing, as all the important points would stay with her. So, I’m going to roll with it.

What do I remember about Church Road? Its staff, for one thing. Knowledgeable and real. There were some exciting handcut strozzapreti with chanterelles and crispy chicken skin; a velvety butternut squash soup with wafer thin shavings of chestnut; and venison with pickled pears. There was also an extraordinary cheesecake made with brillat-savarin but I don’t really recall much of the interior. Make of that what you will. What I do remember with absolute clarity is learning the lesson to not leave your MacBook on the passenger seat.

Church Road Hand cut strozzapretti with crumbled sausage, butternut, chilli and parmesan. Photo: Polly Webster

And if you ask me, those are all the ingredients you need for a perfect evening (minus the call to the police). But if my half-baked review hasn’t persuaded you to leave the safety of the house, then maybe its food to order service will appeal. Order before 6pm on the previous day and they will bring dinner to your door. Saves you from putting your Citroen C3 at risk, too.

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