"I have found my new favourite West London restaurant!"Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
Despite being a Twickenham girl and spending most of my time when not in Central London in Richmond eateries, I am delighted to report that I have found my new favourite West London restaurant!
When I heard that the owner and head chef – Jonas Karlsson – was Swedish, I was a little concerned that the food would be rather too Swedish for my palate. We were reassured that it was Modern European but with a Swedish twist. My companion and I – both of whom have sampled the delights of some of London’s very best restaurants – were truly impressed with the quality of the menu, the food, the cooking, the environment and the service here.
Whilst not easily accessible by public transport, the restaurant is on Kew Green which is a short walk across the river from Brentford. And parking is relatively easy in the evenings.
It doesn’t look much from the outside – smart and simple. But inside it is an oasis of effortless understated elegance in that uniquely clean Scandinavian way – white walls, simple dark wood furniture, functional table top tea-lights and attractive modern unobtrusive crystal light fittings. There’s probably no more than 10 tables (you need to book a week or so ahead for a Friday or Saturday evening) and the view out of the front window is green, leafy and natural.
The menu changes each month to make the most of seasonal ingredients (so happy I was there in asparagus and strawberry season!). Watts Farm is one of the main suppliers. And while we studied the menu we were served with water and a selection of bread. My colleague’s rosemary and potato bread disappeared with alarming speed and he was so taken with my amazing walnut and raison variety that he had some of that too. We were sold. An amuse bouche of three hot (both temperature and spice) fish balls – with a hint of chervil – was declared “unusual and very good” by my companion. I would have happily ordered about 10 more.
We each ordered a glass of wine – which was reasonably priced and ranged from £5.50 to £8 a glass.
Whilst I felt that I should have sampled the pickled herrings with gubbrora (which literally translated means “old man’s stuff” but is a sort of dill mayonnaise with onion and potato) and smoked egg yolk (cooked the way I believe Mr Blumenthal pioneered) for my starter I chose the air dried duck (£9.50). I was told it had been air dried for two and a half weeks. The presentation was interesting – covering just half the plate – and woven into rocket leaves, marinated carrot slivers as well as tiny marinated mushrooms dressed with dill oil. But my colleague chose best – his roasted scallops melted on the tongue and the creamy carrot puree with cucumber and coriander salad with golden raisins (£11.50) was sensational.
It’s difficult to say who won the main course selection. My companion’s pork tender loin (£16.50) was as expected but the black pudding (sourced, we think from Tres Sonja in Northern France) was sublime (melty, spicy and creamy) and went extremely well with the baby onions, sage and calvados jus – and pieces of apple – that it came with. I really liked the wafer of dried parma ham which looked like a sail. My grey mullet (£15.50) was a good size and perfectly cooked but the peppery warm fennel salad with rainbow radish and vanilla foam was extraordinarily good. We really didn’t need the side of fine beans (£3).
We really didn’t need a dessert either but were keen to try. We were advised that the ice creams were chocolate, vanilla and coffee and the sorbets pineapple and mixed berry as they change every three weeks or so. There were some good choices such as a soft pistachio meringue with white chocolate and coconut ganache (£5.50) but I don’t like white chocolate. The milk chocolate terrine with dark chocolate sorbet and brandy snap (£6.50) sounded interesting. My companion had the strawberry ripple cheesecake with marinated strawberries (£6.50) which was extremely sweet – and he enjoyed a small glass of Sauternes with it. I opted for the cheese trio (£8.50) which had Stilton and a soft goat’s cheese and some prästost (a Swedish cheese). Possibly just my way of having some more of that amazing bread.
I discovered while there that Linnea is the national flower of Sweden and as well as being the name of the chef’s grandmother is also the most popular girl’s name in Sweden.
My colleague declared that he would be returning very soon – with his wife. I think that’s just about the highest compliment he can pay to a restaurant. And I will too – after all, it is my new West London favourite.
KimT reviewed Linnea on Thu 08 May 2014