|Hidden Gems of Ealing|
Top class food at cut price - Pillars
You can count the number of fine dining places in Ealing on one hand.
We're well provided with pubs, curry houses and the usual high street names but really top class restaurants are thin on the ground, which is why I was delighted to get the opportunity to sample Pillars.
If you have never heard of Pillars you won't be alone - it's one of Ealing's best kept secrets and I'm a bit reluctant to spill the beans.
It's the training ground for students at the London School of Hospitality and Tourism and based at the University of West London in W5 on Warwick Road.
The restaurant is run by the University's chef lecturers who give students hands-on experience of fine dining.
The school has been open for lunchtime trade since 2005, but, has only just started opening on Thursday evenings.
We went on the second night and it was already busy - it seems word has already got out.
We were pleased to see the tables were nicely spaced out (unlike many of the more commercial restaurants who do tend to pack 'em in). Background music was provided by students from the University's London College of Music and helped with the relaxed ambience.
Our menus arrived quickly as did a complimentary 'shot' of mushroom soup - which tickled our taste buds for the feast ahead.
There was a good selection to choose from - 4 starters , 5 mains and 4 desserts.
I opted for the summery mediterranean vegetables with mozzarella and balsamic dressing. Colourful, light and tasty - I could have eaten more but it was just as well I didn't as we both wanted to sample the full 3 courses.
My partner had the more wintry style tomato and olive soup - and having sampled a bit I had to agree it was gorgeous. It wasn't too tomatoey and the olives were used as a salty and contrasting garnish - a bowlful of lovely warming, satisfying soup.
For main I had to try the risotto - I have this theory about risotto, I reckon if a chef can get this rather tricky dish right all the others are virtually guaranteed.
I have tasted a whole range of this rice concoction in my time, some have been too soggy, others undercooked and many over salted.
Fortunately (like Goldilocks) I was pleased to report this one was was 'just right'. The butternut squash cooked al dente style combined well with the softer arborio rice, mixed grain and mushrooms. The nutty sauce ('hazel nut foam') complemented the dish - ultimate comfort food.
My carnivore husband went for the lamb and despite being a non-meat eater I had to agree it did look rather spectacular.
I stole some of his dauphinoise after he told me it was the best he had ever tasted, and yes, it was rather special. Delicate layers of thinly sliced potato packed down in a very light creamy sauce, it was gorgeous. He raved about the lamb - which he said was cooked to perfection and the vegetables which blended exceptionally well with the clove garlic pan jus.
With just enough space for dessert I had the Chocolate brownie, vanilla panacotta and pear confit.
My husband had the Apple tarte tatin, caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.
Both were sweet (but not at all sickly), light and the perfect way to end out delicious meal.
Service - from the first year students was impeccable, and all in all it was a delightful night out.
3 courses cost a very reasonable 15.95 and 2 courses 12.95, there is decent wine list - and I'm pleased to say the mark-up isn't remotely as high as 'real' restaurants.
Pillars is doing a great job taking on the 'big boys' - if you like dining out at such good prices you'd be foolish not to give it a go.
With a Christmas special coming up you will need to book asap though.
You can book by: e-mail email@example.com or call 020 8231 2200.
(For your chance to wine a lunch-time meal for two see the side panel)
Do you know any other hidden gems in Ealing? Send me your review.
30 October 2011