22 December 2018: a sad sign of the timed - this good neighbourhood restaurant closed on the same day that the good café/deli of a similar name on the other side of the road also decided it's time to give up.
Harden's survey result
One of London’s more accomplished backstreet haunts – this long-established Hammersmith stalwart, buried deep in ‘Brackenbury Village’, has a convivial style founded in a superior basic formula comprising “a seasonal, well-executed menu, good wine list and knowledgeable staff”. The layout is quirky – a u-shaped space with a newish bar area on one side, with the remaining space dedicated to dining; superb summer terrace too.
The epitome of “an excellent neighbourhood restaurant” – chef/patron Humphrey Fletcher’s “lovely local” in the backstreets of Hammersmith provides “frequently changing seasonal fare”, very “charming” service and a civilised atmosphere, enhanced by a sizeable terrace in summer. The re-jigged layout – with a bar in one of its two rooms – seems to be working well too.
“It’s good having the Brack’ back”, say locals who love Ossie Gray’s relaunched “perfect local” in the backstreets of Hammersmith, with its “interesting French/Italian dishes” and attractive summer terrace. It was refurbished this year, to make one of the two rooms a more informal, tapas-style bar.
“It’s so nice to have this neighbourhood pearl back in business”; Ossie Gray’s year-old regime at this convivial, if higgledy-piggledy, Hammersmith favourite is working well, and “you have to admire doing proper cooking in a small backstreet spot”; “strong wine list too”.
Hidden away in Hammersmith, a newcomer seeking to evoke memories of the legendary early-'90s restaurant on the site; it was good-all-round on our early-days visit, but the standards which would once have been exceptional are now relatively commonplace.
Hammersmith estate agents have a lot to thank this site for. Over twenty years ago, the founding of a cute little restaurant there helped to rebrand a tangle of Victorian backstreets as 'Brackenbury Village', and their commissions have benefitted ever since.
In those far off days, it really was quite the destination: at the vanguard of the 'Modern British' revolution. It promised what, for its time, was groundbreaking, affordable-quality cooking - a reward for those who braved this then-offbeat slice of Zone 2 (a destination in those days not even needed for 'The Knowledge').
The site has had its ups and downs and after a short stint in recent times as 'The Port of Manilla' - a magnet for Filippinos everywhere, but out-of-step with its natural local clientele - it's been returned to its former guise by a local resident who also happens to be restaurant royalty: Ossie Gray's mother Rose co-founded the River Café.
Sunday lunch with the family, all warmly welcomed, provided the opportunity for an inaugural visit under this nicely casual new regime.
The menu is sensibly short, offering enough to interest visitors, but approachable enough for locals who can't be bothered to cook too.
There was quite a fork fight for the starters. Perhaps the most contested was the fritto misto of salt cod and radicchio, with aioli. The grown-ups, though, favoured the bruschetta of braised cima di rape (a variant of broccoli), with ricotta, spiced olives and (uncompromising) grilled chilli. Main dishes, such as rabbit leg braised in mustard, garlic and white wine with roseval potatoes and spinach was just the meal for a miserable day. Better perhaps was the grilled black bream, fennel, orange and olive salad.
Prices are reasonable but - given the decidedly 'local' setting - we couldn't help wondering if it wouldn't make sense to offer some special menus for brunch, early evening and so on. Will people from outside the 'Village' seek the place out? We hope so, but if you're planning a special visit, wait for warmer weather - the large pavement terrace is a particular attraction.
129-131 Brackenbury Road, London, W6 0BQ
Mon closed; Tue noon - 2.30 pm, 6.30 pm - 9.30 pm; Sun noon - 2.30 pm
Last orders: 9.30 pm