Cool interiors, locally-sourced food, unlimited chips and service with a smile, Poppy’s Place on Munster Road is the ideal neighbourhood restaurant
In a world where no reservations rules, queuing for two hours for food is the norm and being told ‘you can have dessert but you have to be quick as we need your table in five minutes’ by the waiter is not considered rude, walking into Poppy’s Place in Fulham is a breath of fresh air.
Of course the difference between this and trendy Soho restaurants with diners packed in like sardines is location. But Poppy’s Place wouldn’t look out of place on Beak, Dean or Greek Street. Its style is cool without trying hard.
Vintage, miss-matched furniture and book shelves stacked with classics decorate the restaurant, which gives a nice feeling of familiarity, like coming home, while the large windows embossed with Poppy’s logo make me feel as if I’m in a fifties American diner.
On a Thursday night all of this is romantically lit by candles, and it has a lovely relaxed atmosphere. Without a snake of hungry diners banging on the window for food, the waitresses can relax and work to a less hurried pace. As a result the restaurant has an air of quiet confidence, rightly so. And while it isn’t packed to the rafters, the restaurant has only been open for dinner for a couple of nights and I’m told that at the weekends the place is full.
Other than us, there’s a lone man enjoying his own company and the food, two girls in their twenties putting the world to rights and an older couple chatting to the owner Scarlett Guess. She’s friendly like that.
Scarlett comes from a restaurant dynasty (her father owns Mayfair stalwart Rowley’s, while brother Will set up Chop Shop in Haymarket last year) so knows a thing or two about hospitality. Service comes with a smile and also an unlimited supply of chips. Perfect, if like me, your dining partner orders a salad but really wants to eat your fries.
Although the menu’s main focus is steak, the smoked salmon, avocado and cucumber salad, with an oriental vinaigrette was calling, and it was delicious. The flavours were perfectly balanced and it left me satisfied, not hungry.
He had the burger, which in a city where you can barely move for burger joints, really stood out. The meat was sourced from a local butcher, it was perfectly cooked and went well with the Rioja we chose from the restrained wine list (three whites, three reds). Just as the last chip was dipped into the Ketchup Scarlett appeared ready to re-load – this is not a place for dieters.
Especially when you see the desserts, which are written up in a large scrawl on the chalk board. It was almost impossible to choose but in the end we got stuck in to a chocolate croissant bread and butter pudding with milk ice cream. When I say we, I mean mostly me. While we polished off the last of the pudding, wishing it came with unlimited top ups too, we planned our next visit (breakfast this time) before the secret is out and the queues form. Although even when packed, we suspect Scarlett’s not the type to boot you off the table.