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A yellow peril

Published 27 March 1994
Style Magazine
39th article

Down the Fulham Road (George Jaworskyj)

Even film directors are occasionally influenced by food critics. So when Fay Maschler gave a new restaurant, Fulham Road (believe it or not in the Fulham Road!), two stars, I went along to eat for myself. The first thing I noticed was a lampshade. It was the most awful thing I have ever seen. It had a gold rim on top and bottom, a cream card exterior and a shiny gold interior.

The bottom rim had a large number of small balls (gold, of course) suspended on short bits of wire or string. The gold pole that attached it to the ceiling had gold rope climbing up it. Inside, a gold four-light lamp bracket nestled. All the gold, of course, was fake. It would have looked all right on the head of a marvellously gay Spaniard, but looming above me, oh dear!

I'll say one thing for the rest of the decor. It suited the lampshade perfectly. There were dreadful, cheap-looking office chairs in nasty brown wood with brown and grey cloth coverings. The wallpaper was a variety of yellow squares and, for good measure, some hideous matching wall lamps with squiggly gold motifs were attached. Hanging on the walls were a number of horrid photographs of buildings and/or people covered in paint. They looked like a job lot from Frame Express. I guess Stephen Bull (the owner) gave the decorator £1.85 to do the place up and was given back change.

Averting my eyes to the table I took a round cheese straw and ate it. It was good. Then I ordered, bravely, before the yellowness of it all consumed me. I had ravioli of suckling pig with wild mushroom consomme (pretty good) and Vanessa had hot buttered native oysters with sevruga caviare. Also nothing to complain about. I glanced around the room again. At every table sat what appeared to be middle-management men in dark suits and ties. It was like being at an office party but without the fun.

My main course was excellent. I had very good black pudding. Unlike the muck they serve at The Fifth Floor at Harvey Nichols it was succulent and highly edible. Also on the plate were pigs trotters and faggots. All very tasty. The separate veg on the side was vegetable tempura (tip-top), colcannon which is mashed potato and cabbage and shredded courgettes with basil and cream. Vanessa said the colcannon was salty. "Are you sure?" I said, trying it out. Then she asked for some of my shredded courgettes. I took a handful in my fingers and plopped them on her plate. There is no doubt, at times my table manners are atrocious. "They're definitely salty," she said.

I gave her some more with a spoon and tasted mine.

"You're right," I said. "They are salty." So I guess the colcannon was, too, but neither was ghastly. I'd ordered a rather expensive wine, Chateau Pichon Comtesse de Malande 2nd cru 1985 at £75 ex service. It was all right. I looked around to see if anyone interesting had turned up, but nobody had. I did notice some black elephants woven on the banquettes, though. This place should re-locate to East Grinstead, I thought.

The puddings (all at £5) were excellent, not historic but highly commendable. I had pecan tart with maple pecan ice cream, and Vanessa had iced banana meringue with hot butterscotch sauce. It was a sort of meringue ice cream in between two round biscuits, but very good none the less. The service was friendly and exemplary, but when I asked for the bill it seemed a bit light. "You've forgotten to put the wine on, " I said to the manageress. She was duly grateful for my innate honesty and added the £75 ex service.

I can recommend Fulham Road if you don't mind yellow. The food's fine and, if you keep your mouth shut, you get the wine free. But I do think dear Faysie (Maschler that is) with her two stars must have been in a generous mood. You won't catch me in one of those, I can assure you.