ONE of the cardinal sins a restaurant can commit is to serve food which goes completely against someone’s religious or personal beliefs.
So presenting my husband Michael, who like me is Jewish, with pork instead of the duck he ordered, did not go down too well.
It did not look like pork, being piled up in slices, much like duck, in a very similar red sauce. He could easily have tucked in, but I spotted what looked like a sausage lurking underneath, and while I was pointing this out the waiter reappeared, apologising profusely for the mistake and then asked if Michael wanted to eat it anyway.
I leaped in – sorry Michael, I do that a lot – with ‘he certainly won’t eat pork’, so he whipped it away, promising to return with the duck in 10 minutes. Around 20 minutes later and of course well after I finished my fish, it did appear (more details later), but eating alone does stick in the gullet and does not make for a jolly evening.
To be fair there were many more profuse apologies, three free drinks, the offer of free dessert (which they later forgot) and mass grovelling, all well meant. And the waiting staff, who were very pleasant, were not responsible. This debacle, adding to another with our starter, smacked of poor organisation in the kitchen.
The overall image of this independent gastro pub, which has been trading for nearly a decade, is good. Originally named The White Horse, it is the oldest surviving licensed premises in Brentford, dating back to 1604.
JMW Turner, the famous painter, lived there for a year in 1785 and the cellar below dates back to this time. The garden, boasting tropical plants, overlooks the river so this is a perfect setting for a hot summer evening.
Sadly, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the setting is if a restaurant is let down by the food or such a huge error the whole evening is ruined.
It did not start well. We shared a starter of chicken liver parfait with red onion marmalade and toast (£6). The pate, which was deliciously creamy, was bigger than the bit of toast so we asked for some more. We waited and waited, the tiny dollop of onion marmalade was long gone.
They had forgotten and disappeared so Michael went to remind them. Two chunks of dry, granary bread were quickly plonked on our plates, the sort you might have for breakfast. It just didn’t work and left a weird taste in the mouth.
When Michael’s duck with a sweet potato hash, caramelised red onion and black cherry sauce (£15.50) did arrive it was too well done and not well presented. It paled in comparison to our son Daniel’s version, the benchmark for duck. On the plus side Michael did love the caramelised onion and was pleased with the amount of sauce.
Alone I ate the fillet of wild sea bass, with mashed potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes, grilled asparagus and a beurre blanc sauce (£14.50), again overcooked, and barely enjoyable watched by a hungry Michael. Yes, I did offer him some, but he declined.
The highlight of the meal was dessert: apple and blackberry crumble with vanilla ice-cream (£6) which came in a small, cast iron (I think) pan. It was superb, with just the right ratio of warm fruit to crunchy topping.
The Weir has a large and varied menu, which seems to have delusions of grandeur. The bottom line here, as Michael said, is lack of attention to detail. He said: “Everyone expects you to do the big things right, it’s all about the detail.”
The perfect setting is simply not enough.