when we were in ireland we drove past a sign that made my mum cry out "a gastro pub! not sure i'd want to go there!", which - of course, left bex and i in fits of laughter, and having to explain to her that it's not a pub that gives you gastro (genuinely), but rather a "gastronomical pub". as in, one that has an above-average food menu, outside the norms of a regular pub; one that serves more than ales and pork scratchings; one that has a chef on the roster, not just a cook. "ahh" she says, "that sounds much better". yes mum, yes it does.
so when the opportunity came up to check out the fullers kitchen at the blue boat in hammersmith, i knew she would be well up for coming along and getting her "gastro" on with me. so that's what we did, after our cooking class on saturday - already full to the brim with mexican treats, we made our way down to the river-side pub (slowly, mind), while the day was still bright enough to take in the gorgeous rover views as we sipped our glasses of wine in the huge outdoor area... until the sun finally set and it was too damn cold to sit out there any longer.
we moved inside just as our starters were coming out. we were there pretty early for a saturday (just after 6pm), but we were one of only three or four tables of customers eating, which was really surprising, considering the size of the pub. huge. really, really big dining area, long bar that almost fills the entire length of the room, and massive, bustling kitchen that is almost completely open to the room (not in a loud way, in a way where you can see what's happening). despite all that room though, we were sat by the window (god bless that natural light), at a small, round table, with one dining chair and one, like, lounge chair, and it was all a little uncomfortable.
it was difficult to fit both starters, the bottles of wine and water, and all the glasses and cutlery on the small table, so we ended up moving a lot of the stuff to the ground. why we didn't just as for another table, i don't know - i suspect we thought we were being fussy (were we?), and they'd seated us there as it had the nicest views - which it did. so i suppose under the circumstances, it was a nice table. it just wasn't very practical for our dining needs!
nevertheless, the food was divine. i went for the fresh spinach and ricotta ravioli (£7), which came served with beetroot puree and crispy shavings, and besides the pasta parcels being a little on the chewy side (maybe overcooked slightly?), the dish was bloody delicious. the beetroot puree was the head chef's own recipe, and it was the most incredible accompaniment for the vegetarian parcels. just yum; ate the whole thing. mum had the cornish orchard cider cured trout salad (£8), which came with beets, grapefruit, radish, quail egg and a chilli and lemon dressing, and had this to say:
the menu was a pleasant surprise - where i was expecting pub food, i was amazed to the find quite a delicious choice of gourmet dishes. where to start was our first problem... i chose the cornish orchard cider cured trout salad. it came out beautifully presented with the trout curled into a rosette making it look almost too good to eat! i loved the combination of flavours, but felt there was just a little too much salad greens than were necessary.
as quick as we devoured our starters, our mains were on their way. normally i'm all "god bless a quiet kitchen!" but after an afternoon of devouring everything i made with my own two hands, i was already prettttty full, and in now way in need of another, three courses. poor planning on my behalf, sure. but also: challenge accepted. for my main i decided to go for the chef's signature dish - scottish mussels in chilli, lime and coconut milk (£13), with a foccacia bread to mop it all up with, which i was preeeeetty excited for after having had some incredible mussels recently while in ireland, and wanting to stay on that tasty seafood hype as much as possible. mum chose the dorset lamp rump and crispy shoulder, served with fondant potato, peas, anchovy crisp, goats curd and mint pesto (£18). here's what mum had to say:
the next dish i chose was the lamb. i definitely chose the better dish - the crispy shoulder was a real winner, so tasty and and an unusual way to present lamb. i thought the mint pesto was a little too salty for my liking but i loved the anchovy chip - another little surprise of flavour! the mussels were a little disappointing though, as there was just not enough flavour in the broth; they certainly didn't scrimp on the quantity - there was more than enough in the serve for two!
i mean, she's a bit harsh, isn't she?! while i do agree that the mussels were definitely not as spicy and flavoursome as i was expecting, the broth actually was. mopping up the broth after the fact really highlighted that flavour didn't carry right through the dish, which is a damn shame as it's the chef's signature dish. that's not to say they weren't tasty, they just weren't as tasty as they could have been. mum's lamb though? amazing. she says too salty, but i disagree. she liked the anchovy though, so there's some mixed messages for you. the lamb shoulder is something we couldn't actually work out, and were trying to google the recipe of afterwards just to try and work out what we'd been eating. all in all though, the lamb dish was an absolute winner, while the mussels - while nice and filling (very filling, do you see how big that pot is?!), were just missing a little... something.
absolutely stuffed, we decided that it would be too rude to not have dessert, though we would need to give it a half an hour or so. especially because there was sticky toffee pudding (£7) on the menu, and that's probably my favourite dessert of all time. and because it was *apparently* served with salted caramel ice cream, another favourite. now i say "apparently" because the ice cream that came with the pudding was definitely coffee flavoured, which actually was a great surprise because that's mum's favourite flavour, and when i questioned it and they brought us some actual salted caramel to taste, she didn't like it at all - and i was too full to really care. her actual thoughts though:
though we were way too full for any more food, we just had to share the vintage ale sticky toffee pudding - which actually came with coffee icecream instead of the advertised salted caramel (which I was rather glad about ) - mmmm, this was the most delicious pudding that I have tasted for a while! the pudding was soft and delicate, and the sticky toffee sauces complemented perfectly, and tied all the flavours together.
what she said. it was bloody delicious, and we were orb-shaped when we left the pub. we waddled all the way back to the bus, no word of a lie. the staff at the blue boat were absolutely incredible; so welcoming and friendly, and happy to make suggestions for some fussy women. i'm really shocked there weren't more people in there, as even when we left (well after 8:30), there were still only another handful of people who'd turned up for a few drinks, and being that it's so close to hammersmith and also on the river, it's in a really handy spot for some saturday drinks, and the varied menu is totally affordable, and mostly really tasty (and not a hint of gastro in sight!).
big thanks to the blue boat team for having us over for dinner, and for looking after our every need. we had a great time in their care, and while i probably won't be back too soon (ew, west london), i'vll have no trouble recommending it to anyone finding themselves in the area!
the blue boat
parr's way, london
*yes, meal was complimentary, but all words are my own (and mum's)*