What: A neighbourhood-style hangout located smack dab in the middle of Chiswick High Road, with a menu that focuses on European cuisine but features some 'unusual' touches.
Who: The Silver Birch has been opened by first-time restaurateur Tim Price (who trained at Leith's) and general manager Edward Allsopp (formerly of Wild by Tart), with Kimberley Hernandez overseeing the stoves as head chef. Hernandez has a strong background working in Michelin-starred kitchens, and has more than 15 years of experience in the industry. Having started out as chef de partie at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in Knightsbridge, Hernandez moved to work for the St. John group as head pastry chef between 2012 and 2013. She went on to work as senior sous chef at Mathias Dahlgren’s two Michelin-starred restaurant Matsalen, and the one Michelin-starred Matbaren in Stockholm, Sweden, before moving back to the UK to take the position as head chef of XU Teahouse and Restaurant. She eventually moved on to take the reins of Andrew Wong’s City restaurant Kym's, which closed last year as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The food: The evening menu is described as 'combining familiar ingredients with irreverent touches and unusual flavour combinations'. This is borne out most noticeably in the starters, which include Dorset clams served in a saffron sauce with Jersey Royal potatoes; sliced, soy-poached duck topped with green olives; and a blooming onion topped with cumin and cheddar cream, and served with a garnish crispy kale (all £9). The mains, for the most part, feel more typical of modern European cuisine, and include garden pot-au-feu (£14); steamed skate wing with wild garlic and ginger relish (£18); monkfish with braised peppers and fresh chorizo (£19); and sliced shorthorn ribeye with green sauce and anchovies. Hernandez's previous experience as a pastry chef, meanwhile, certainly shines through in the desserts, which include a visually stunning knickerbocker glory (£7); strawberry and cream mille-feuille (£7); and a triumphant XXL lemon meringue éclair (£8). The restaurant also serves a shortened lunch offering, which includes a three-course 'express' set menu for £30. For the wine, Allsopp has worked closely with Liberty Wines and Les Cave de Pyrene to create a concise list that brings together Old World classics with some unusual varietals from the New World.
The vibe: B3 Designers and Lauren Resnick of PoE have worked together to create a calm, light-filled aesthetic that features an earthy colour palette of sage greens, pale pinks and textured walls, with nods to Chiswick High Road's leafy, dappled appearance dotted throughout. In the smaller downstairs dining area, illustrator Jesse Brown has created one-off sketches that adorn the walls with scenes of local Chiswick life. It's a smart restaurant, with a cosy street-side terrace that's kitted out with iroko wood tables.
And another thing: The Silver Birch originally opened its doors in October, but only managed two weeks of service before the November lockdown forced the restaurant to close. A similar fate met it when it reopened in December. As such this is the first real opportunity Price, Allsopp and Hernandez have had to really test the waters. The early signs are certainly encouraging. With Chiswick High Road largely dominated by casual dining chains, The Silver Birch has an opportunity to carve a niche out for itself by appealing to diners looking for something a little more adventurous.
142 Chiswick High Rd, Chiswick, London W4 1PU