Sudi Pigott heads to Hildreth Street in Balham and finds West End-style dining in SW12
UPDATE: Gastronhome has moved to Clapham! See the new address below.
Hildreth Street, already a favourite haunt of mine, has a thrilling newcomer. Don’t be deceived by the unassuming exterior of Gastronhome and its endearing Breton beach-hut style décor, clearly achieved on a minimum budget.
The name itself translates fittingly as the art of selecting, preparing and enjoying food in a homely setting. The original print of the tea salon at The Ritz is a clue.
Co-proprietors Christophe Nespoux and chef Damian Fremont, met at the Ritz where the former was a fast-rising sommelier and Damian was a sous chef before spending a year with Bruno Loubet at The Zetter.
They’ve certainly got ambitious plans, are utterly charming and dishes showed extremely thoughtful, precise and confident cooking with a beguiling lightness to the flavours. Their signature dish is softly scrambled egg mixed in an egg cup with wild mushrooms and truffle – delicate and decadent served with fat asparagus. Salmon tartare is beautifully acidulated and served with tiny watercress bavarois and beetroot salad (under £10).
Main dishes (around £15) don’t shy from using extravagant ingredients such as turbot with bergamot (an exceptionally scented Italian lemon) or beef with bone marrow fondant and dauphinois potatoes. Desserts (£8) are superb. I succumbed to both ethereally light rum baba and an intense chocolate marquise with pistachio tuile.
Be led by Christophe’s wine pairing suggestions that offer unusual wines at modest prices. Or splurge on a five-course degustation £50 with matching wines £40 – a fraction of cost of dining in the West End and served with the most heart-warming care.
59 Lavender Hill, Battersea, SW11 5QN, +44 20 3417 5639. www.gastronhome.co.uk