What: The latest site from upmarket London pub group Harcourt Inns. Located near Turnham Green tube station on Chiswick High Road, the site was originally going to be called The Harlot in honour of Hogarth’s famous A Harlot’s Progress painting but after “feedback” from locals the name was changed to the rather more prosaic The Crown.
Who: Former Racine chef Henry Harris is overseeing the food, as he does at the group’s three other pubs (The Hero of Maida, The Coach and Three Cranes). Harcout Inns (formerly Holborn Leisure) is overseen by Harris and James McCulloch, a director at backer Ducalian Capital. The pair are expected to open site number five, in Notting Hill, later this year. Harris has put Daniele Zaffora in charge of the stove, with whom he worked at his celebrated Knightsbridge restaurant Racine.
The vibe: Formerly European restaurant Carvosso’s, the cavernous space has been given a total overhaul by interior designer Liana Braune, who has overseen the design at the group’s three other sites. Split into a several bar areas and a long restaurant area that looks over an attractive courtyard, the 6,000 sq ft space strikes a careful balance between traditional and contemporary with dark green banquettes, brass fixtures and fittings and tasteful modern art.
The food: Zaffora was born in Sicily and apparently wowed Harris and the team at the menu tasting with his takes on traditional Italian dishes. As such, many of the dishes on the menu have a Mediterranean feel. There’s melanzane alla parmagiana; Beccafico sardines, frisée and extra virgin olive oil; and culurgiones (a rustic potato-stuffed pasta) with squash ragu. These dishes sit alongside the old school French classics Harris is well-known for, including Racine’s famed grilled rabbit leg with Alsace bacon, French beans and mustard sauce; and crème caramel.
Braised oxtail in Barolo with herb crumb
And another thing: While this combo sounds a bit odd, it actually works well with the French side of the menu providing familiarity and some pub-y dishes such as steak and chips and the more Italian side of things providing something a bit lighter and more adventurous. Not for nothing was Harcourt Inns named Food-led Pub Company of the Year at Restaurant magazine’s R200 Awards late last year: The Crown is a professionally put together package that looks likely to be well-received by Chiswick’s well-heeled yet fairly conservative market.