A Touch Of Class - Don't Miss Out on Pillars
Annemarie Flanagan enjoys a Christmas meal - fine dining style
I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people that won't be happy with this review. It's not because it is bad in anyway - in fact completely the reverse - but there are some folk in Ealing that are more than happy that this place is their special secret - and they want to keep it so.
Well I think I might be just about to ruin it for them.
Pillars - the training wing of London College of Hospitality and Tourism, based at the University of West London, is simply fabulous.
Despite being open for over ten years there are still very few people in Ealing who have heard of it, let alone sampled the delights in store.
I last visited four years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, but was a bit reluctant to let too many in on the find, now, older, wiser (hmm) and feeling in seasonal spirit, I think everyone should get the chance to dine here at least once.
Sadly you have missed the Christmas menu now as the college is taking a well deserved break until the New Year, but we managed to nip in to test it out just before they shut up shop.
The place was unsurprisingly heaving, as this top class, four course meal (with a glass of mulled wine on entrance) was on offer for the rather incredible value price of £21.
We started with a delightfully light and moreish plate of cured Scottish salmon, courgette chutney, crispy capers and rye. Surprising in its simplicity, this was beautifully presented and just the right amount to get the tastebuds a ting-a-ling.
The Jerusalem artichoke soup with cheese straws was second course, very satisfying, smooth and creamy but not too rich with a beautiful salty contrast provided by the cheesey croutons.
Main courses were both a delight - for him the traditional Roast British turkey which came with chestnut stuffing served with pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, honey parsnips, Brussel sprouts and roast gravy. 'Mmmm! Excellent!' was his simple summation as he tucked in enthusiastically.
I had the vegetarian option - and well done to Pillars for offering something a little more interesting than the ubiquitous nut roast or risotto.
The Vegetable Wellington came with a lightly curried parsnip purée, pommes dauphinoise and heritage carrots. It was flavoursome and satisfying and really did feel like a special Christmas meal. The curried parsnip was an excellent and unusual addition making this dish very classy indeed. I wish Pillars did takeaways as this would be ideal for my Christmas day meal.
We attempted the deserts - sherry trifle and Christmas pudding, but just didn't have enough room to finish them as we were both well and truly sated.
The students do a fantastic job at this restaurant, both behind the scenes and those dealing with table service. I wouldn't guess for one second they were still in training - the service was friendly and attentive, the attention to detail second-to-none and the food, just wonderful.
Add to that an excellent and varied wine list with top price bottles such as Chablis and Sancerre costing no more than £15 - I'm giving Pillars top marks.
Make sure one of your New Year resolutions is to visit (but don't tell the regulars I told you): you won't be disappointed.
December 17th 2015