John Sutton on why you shouldn’t expect the moon on a stick in Lark Lane
A RECENT report by the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research group concluded bananas could replace potatoes as a staple food source for millions of people on this planet over the next few years.
As global temperatures increase conditions for farming the most versatile of vegetables will worsen, and be more suited to the yellow, amusing shaped fruit.
I hope a copy of said report gets to the folk at Moon and Pea on Lark Lane, because we all need to start rationing our spuds if it’s true, and there they give out the sort of portions that mean you have to take a rest halfway through your meal.
That’s what the Mrs-to-be did anyway, exhaling heavily and determined not to be beaten by the mountain of mash atop of which was the only remaining steak and kidney pie (£8.95)in the premises that evening.
Rewind half an hour or so and there was a discussion – in that under-the-breath, aware the waiter is watching way – about which one of us should have the pie.
According to the menu it was a free range one too – did it scamper in green and pleasant fields before its crust was fully formed?
We’ve only the one left, he said cheerily, pad and pen still poised...
Chivalry got the better of me and I yielded, which considering it came with mushy peas wasn’t easy.
But I knew she wouldn’t manage the full thing, and a morsel or two would be mine. A tasty pie it was too, with crisp pastry and lots of chunky filling, you could actually determine the steak from the kidney by sight, which isn’t always the case.
It was covered in a disappointing gravy that tasted like it was whipped up in the kitchen with some boiling water and granules while the plated up meal was waiting for chef to give waiter the nod.
The masses of mash were a good consistency but could have done with more butter and seasoning, but that’s a matter of personal taste.
I also had loads of potatoes, this time of the parmentier variety – crisp, bitesize pieces and a nice filler to go with my chicken breast wrapped in Parma ham (£9.95).
Nothing more was done to the meat, which was unimaginative. The veg side of lemon spinach was a tasty combo though. Again, this was covered in the aforementioned gravy, not the white wine jus stipulated on the menu and which I’d forgotten about until I asked for a menu to take away at the end of the meal, so didn’t complain.
We’d started with the seafood platter for two (£8.95). The tempura prawns and battered calamari were first class. There was smoked salmon too, ciabatta which could have done with being toasted and some only just thawed tiger prawns coated in a gloopy, funny coloured Marie Rose sauce. It ruined them. I felt sorry for the people a couple of tables away when I saw a full prawn cocktail on its way. There’s a reason some food is consigned to the past.
The whole platter came with a nice salad, and an oil and balsamic vinegar dipping bowl which overpowered the fish.
We didn’t bother with dessert, being stuffed with spuds, but could have picked from loads of different cakes, pies and crumbles.
All the people I know who’ve raved about the Moon and Pea, I’ve subsequently found, were talking about the breakfast and brunch menus – the best part about going there for the evening is you can bring your own wine.
Corkage is £3. And they give you those old fashioned pub glasses so a bottle seems to last all evening, rather than the goblets of fashionable restaurants today which take about a litre at a time.
The restaurant itself is very cool too, in the way that you have to be to survive on The Lane. The chairs were mismatched, some of them even had Cath Kidston coverings, pointed out the Mrs-to-be who has an eye for such detail.
The staff were also helpful, friendly and in their own clothes, which I like as it shows the management trusts who works for them to do a good front of house job without resorting to corporate uniformity.
And they did an excellent job. There were just two of them, they were rushed off their feet but as soon as we arrived put a wine cooler on the table and when I rang up to book gave warning you can only pay with cash.
This is a quirky canteen rather than an evening restaurant, and for the cheery service and surroundings I’d try it again for a weekend brunch, and hope they’re as generous with the hash browns as other potato varieties.