Sonnys Kitchen Barnes
94, Church Road, London, SW13 0DQ
020 8748 firstname.lastname@example.org
When I was a music obsessed teenager in the 70s I loved Pete Frame’s Rock Family Trees. Appearing in the various music rags of the time they detailed the often incestuous links between bands. I may not have been too hot on much else academically at the time but I could tell you who was the link between Amen Corner, T Rex, The Strawbs and The Bee Gees (keyboard player Blue Weaver…). The connections between restaurants can be considerably more opaque than those of the rock and rollers and I’m sometimes surprised to find out who owns a slice of what.
Rebecca Mascarenhas opened Sonny ‘s in Barnes 26 years ago. Having decided that the acting game wasn’t for her she started working for serial restaurateur Bob Payton (the man who brought Deep Pie Chicago Pizza to Britain) and ended up opening local favourite Sonny’s just round the corner from where the legendary Olympic recording studios used to be.
Having been successful in one of London’s wealthiest suburbs she has since partnered up with Sam Harrison for his restaurants Sam’s and Harrison’s in Chiswick and Balham respectively (see our reviews) and subsequently with two Michelin starred chef Phil Howard (The Square) at Kitchen W8 in Kensington which has gone on to get its own Michelin star. Her latest wheeze is to partner up with Howard for a refurb and relaunch of Sonny’s as Sonny’s Kitchen as a restaurant, cafe and delicatessen which is why Fiona from London Unattached and I
here to investigate.
Barnes is never going to be edgy with its pimped up suburban homes and mansions but at Sonny’s as at Mascarenhas’ other ventures there is enough of a hint of Soho cool mixed with Notting Hill Bobo chic to make the residents feel as if they are somewhere a cut above the chain restaurants. But will the food deliver?
Head chef Tommy Boland certainly comes with good credentials. He has worked for three years at The Square with Phil Howard and before that at The George V in Paris. Things start promisingly with freshly made oregano grissini and warm crumbly white bread being brought to the table while we look at the menu.
There’s an attractive looking and very reasonably priced set lunch offer with three choices at each course (£18.50 for 3 courses, £16.50 for 2) but we opt for the a la carte which ranges from the mundane if probably necessary (pizza or burger) to more interesting sounding seasonal Modern European options.
To drink we choose a bottle of 2010 Australian Mad Fish Riesling (£30.50) that has a citrus blossom nose and a long lime finish. It drinks really well opening up in flavour during the meal.
We start with Salad of Crab (£9.50) with butter lettuce, spring onions and avocado. This was simple but delicious. The crab meat was full of flavour with the dill and spring onion not overpowering it. The lettuce leaves were sweet and complemented a perfect spring dish.
Steamed Cambridgeshire Asparagus (£9.50) with deep fried egg and herb cream was a fun concept. A deliciously runny egg smothered with the crunch of breadcrumbs and lighty deep fried spread its yolk lovingly over the asparagus; however the vegetable had been chilled and as a result had lost much of its flavour and the two contrasting temperatures felt uncomfortable together in the mouth.
Roasted Fillet of Cod (£16.50) with lardo di colonnata, peas, spring onions and lettuce was perfectly cooked. Fiona wasn’t keen on the taste of the lardo on the fish but the peas and spring onions were sweet and lovely.
Roasted Skate Wing with beurre noisette and capers (£18.50) was slightly overdone for my taste and a bit chewy but the addition of croutons and buttery spinach added value.
Good French Fries (£3.50) and spinach (£3.50) were both well executed.
Having chosen our final course the chef then surprised us with a Lemon Posset covered with a fruits of the forest sauce and a creamy baby doughnut on the side. The dessert was sweet but tart at the same time and combined with the doughnut made a great combo.
By this time we were stuffed but somehow made room for a tasty Tarte Fine of Apples with vanilla ice-cream and caramel sauce (£7.50) and then a selection of British Cheeses (Lancashire Bomb, Stilton and Tymsboro) (£10.50) which were all well kept and full of flavour.
This new breed of suburban Modern European brasseries are clearly the coming thing; their breadth of menu and contemporary styling allows them to pick up on trends quickly enough so that their core market feels that they aren’t completely out in the sticks. It also gives talented young chefs the opportunity to front their own kitchen. If the food or the service isn’t completely perfect (there was an order glitch and some over-zealous waitressing) it’s not really surprising but would I be happy to have Sonny’s Kitchen in my neighbourhood and would I use it? Well yes I would.
Disclosure: The Hedonist was a guest of Sonny’s Kitchen