Is the New Leaf on the Turn?
Ealing's oldest Chinese restaurant looks like it's seen better days
After 30 years in business, it could be time to turn over a new leaf for Ealing's oldest Chinese restaurant, The New Leaf.
Having witnessed a midweek stampede for places at Maxim Peking Cuisineon Northfield Avenue (and that was people who had booked!), we were surprised to find The New Leaf practically empty on a Thursday evening on bustling Bond Street.
Needless to say we were seated quickly. So far so good...
No real surprises with the delicious-sounding menu, and sadly no shockers with our very predicable choices from it either. A wake up call on tedious eating habits should have come when our local Chinese takeaway restaurant was able to read our order back to us before we'd even placed it. In our defense, we figured it would be useful to be able to compare like with like before passing judgment on an unsuspecting new establishment.
So grilled Peking dumplings it was for my partner, spare ribs for me. And it was with the starters that things started to go wrong...
I don't consider myself a real stickler for etiquette and manners. In fact, I'll admit I'm quite a slob, but even to me it did grate when our starters clattered onto our table from one hand while our waitress chattered on the phone with the other. She was probably reading back a takeaway order, but I would have liked our own order to have arrived slightly more ceremoniously. At this point I questioned whether I was getting old, and reassured myself that actually I was just expecting more from a restaurant that charges more. What is it they say about talking to yourself?..
Fairly or unfairly, the service rendered me more suspicious of what had been served up, but I don't think I'm being harsh when I say that they weren't up to the standard of the benchmark North China in Acton, or our local takeaway Kam Tsin. Dumplings were lacking in seasoning and dried out, spare ribs were over seasoned and soggy.
I was ready to be objective about the next course, the compulsory duck and pancakes. And I can tell you objectively that the duck was cooked to perfection – beautifully tender in the middle, crispy on the outside. It was a shame then that the cucumber accompaniment hadn't been prepared with the same care, or at the same time. The dried out and yet overly supple sticks had to go back.
While they went off to replace them, I nipped to the loo, the decoration of which, contrary to the restaurant's website's boasts, was as tired as the cucumber.
I'm afraid that was it for us – the meal literally a wash out. We decided to give the rest of our order a miss and head somewhere else for our main course.
It's the best choice we'd made all night. Read next week's installment to find out where we ended up, still on Bond Street. The New Leaf should probably take one out of their book...
September 21, 2007