PARLOURS, as I had understood them to be, were, as well as being found in urban areas with predominantly red street lights, simply somewhere you could buy an ice cream, finalise funeral arrangements or get beautified.
But a visit to Kensal Rise enlightened me; to be found down a side street just north of the Regent's Canal is an eatery serving food and alcohol for 18 hours a day, which is neither a restaurant nor a pub but, in the words of its chef/owner, Jesse Dunford Wood, an 'all-day serving parlour' - hence the name.
The more informal sister establishment of the Mall Tavern in Notting Hill, Parlour opens for brunch at 10am and continues through lunch and dinner, closing at midnight in the week and 1am at weekends.
The hefty choice of newspapers, wifi, comfy chairs, as well as a picturesque garden, offer obvious allure to the dayime crowd, but we were here for dinner and craft beer.
After the casually-dressed and personable bar tender indulged my choice stress and let me sample about 15, I settled on a Camden Pale Ale and headed into the long, wood-floored dining room, bedecked with refectory-style chairs.
It is highlighted by the chef's table, a large booth by the kitchen pass which gives a full view of Dunford Wood and his team at work, and we were delighted to be offered it.
Frivolous menu entries such as cow pie and McTucker's chicken popcorn, allied to the convivial nature of the place, belie a serious quality to the food befitting a chef who has won multiple awards for his craft.
Hands on, Dunford Wood brought us each dish, beginning with glorious, just-out-of-the-oven soda bread and back door salmon, quite literally smoked behind the kitchen.
Simple but so, so good, the chicken and popcorn was an unexpected highlight; less so the 'ravioli', which, somewhat bizarrely, consisted of thin slivers of raw vegetables sandwiching goats cheese, of which I'm no fan.
A tomato consommé came in an egg shell with a poached yolk as a prelude to the signatures, the cow pie and the Chicken Kyiv. Presented theatrically by the engaging chef, the former - 'Desperate Dan's favourite dish' - came in a round dish complete with horn sticking out of the centre (okay, it was bone marrow) and was as beefy as it sounds, with melting meat and marrow and gravy oozing from the sides.
The chicken, in the shape of a large Scotch egg, came atop a hashbrown and a tangy slaw and was another calorific, old-school delight, but not as garlicky as it could have been.
The real show came at pudding. Clearing the table and laying down some tin foil across its full length, the chef proceeded into a an Art Attack-style presentation of all his best desserts, squeezing jams and curd and scattering popping candy around homemade Arctic rolls, strawberry souffle, toasted marshmallow wagon wheels and salted caramel chocolate rolos. Way too much to get through, but brilliant fun and a neat encapsulation of what Parlour seems to stand for - quality cooking presented with panache and an underbelly of mischief in an informal setting. West London has been crying out for such a place.
*A three-course meal for two with wine comes to about £80.
5 Regent Street
0208 969 2184