What: Described as ‘proper old fashioned neighbourhood restaurant’, consider Church Road to be a contemporary update of Sonny’s Kitchen that combines British and Modern European cuisine.
Who: It’s owned by business partners Phil Howard and Rebecca Mascarenhas, who also operate the Michelin-starred Elystan Street in Chelsea and Kitchen W8 in Kensington. The pair also owned Sonny’s Kitchen, which they closed back in July after 33 years of operating. Opening in its place, Church Road has plenty of pedigree with Howard and Mascarenhas bringing over several members of their Elystan Street team to help run the show including Sam Astley-Dean – previously a sous chef at the Chelsea restaurant – who has taken charge of the Church Road kitchen.
The food: Howard and Astley-Dean have described the food at Church Road to be ‘simple, brutally seasonal, and ingredient-led’. And similarly to Sonny’s, dishes appear designed to be relaxed and gimmick-free, with hearty, British flavours combined with elements of Modern European cooking. The menu will change regularly, but at launch includes starters of wood pigeon salad with root vegetables, scorched onion and blackberries (£13); carpaccio of sea bass with olive oil, orange, chilli, spring onion and herbs (£16); and aged Cumbrian beef tartare mixed with celeriac, capers and truffle, served on a slice of beetroot (£14). Individual main dishes include double-baked cheddar soufflé with a leeks and mushrooms (£18); Tamworth pork chop with stir fried cabbage and sweet and sour plums (£20); and roast grouse with roasted pear, elderberries, hasselback potatoes and gravy (£35). However, there is also a sharing platter available of roast Cumbrian chicken with smashed butternut, potato galettes and green salad (£46). Desserts, meanwhile, include port-roasted figs with baklava and fig leaf ice cream (£9); brown-butter biscuit with salted caramel, roasted nuts, malt ice cream and lime (£9); and quince and damson sorbet (£7).
The vibe: Though there have been no structural changes, the restaurant’s dining room has been spruced up following the closure of Sonny’s Kitchen, with both the bar and private dining areas receiving a trendy facelift. The appearance has an air of more elevated, classical dining – think white linen tablecloths and pristinely-set tabletops – but the furnishings are kept comfortable to help retain that relaxed, neighbourhood style Sonny’s was known for.
And another thing: Sonny’s held great significance to Mascarenhas as it was her first restaurant. Speaking to BigHospitality back in 2013, she said she chose Barnes as the location for her first restaurant as she did not have the capital to invest in a central London restaurant. “I was convinced there was a market on the doorstep for the same people who went to restaurants in Mayfair, Kensington and Chelsea,” she said. “It was the same demographic, but they wanted something closer to home.”