Food and Drink: The restaurant at the end of the universe: Lost in some other world, Chinon is a peculiar and pricey place. But the food is strangely good, reports Emily Green

The late Peter Langan used to say that the three most important things for a restaurant were location, location and location. He was wrong. Restaurants can and do work in odd locations. How else did 'tucked away' become a food writers' cliche?

Chinon, for example, has a tricky location. Unfortunately, it is not in the Loire, where the original Chinon is an ancient wine- making centre. This Chinon is in a little parade of shops near the BBC's Kensington House in Shepherd's Bush, London - a dinky-boo suburb, central but leafy. The streets are now a one-way maze, punctuated by piffling roundabouts. Parking is hell.

Yet there it is, Chinon of Shepherd's Bush - a perfectly welcoming place, neither too fancy nor too austere. Do not, however, mistake it for commonsensical. Chinon is an irritating restaurant.

To begin with, in spite of the name, it is none too concerned with the Loire. Though it serves a remarkably good 1991 Chinon, fairly priced at pounds 18.50, the wine list seems to look most fondly to the New World. The food, judging by flavour, has a Mediterranean bent - there are pine nuts partout - but its styling comes from somewhere else entirely.

'Planet Chinon,' our hostess explained, as I gaped at a plate that looked as though it had done duty as a hat in Easter Parade. Its leaves were topped by a sheet of fried filo pastry, this topped by curlicues of roast red peppers and various business. And beneath that fried pastry lurked rolled peelings of cucumber, a curl of salami, a spear of this, a swirl of that. The chef, Jonathan Hayes, is a very good cook; he is also very playful.

Another starter, squid, came on a sheet of pasta, dyed black with squid ink. This looked good, but the pasta stuck fast to the plate. The squid itself, however, was delicious. The cap was stuffed with a tomato fondant, pine nuts and pesto sauce.

Chinon, with rare and admirable generosity, serves liver thickly cut. Ours had firm texture, excellent flavour, and was perfectly cooked and served with an excellent mustard sauce.

My lamb had been packed in caul, with a layer of roast red peppers. The meat was flavourful, and well cooked. To the side, an extravagant little filo pastry wheel housed spinach and pine nuts. Both liver and lamb was accompanied by a small tower of mash, rather like the one which fixates Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, except that this one was packaged in Savoy cabbage.

Dessert was something called 'Cloud Pie': meringue, creme Chantilly, banana and passion fruit. It was light and really fun, served with orange sorbet and segments in a tuile basket - a good end to a good meal.

So why was Chinon only half- full last Saturday night? An obvious answer lay in the bill, which came to pounds 35 per person. By contrast, the seats are rarely empty nearby at the Brackenbury, a nicer-looking restaurant in, if anything, a worse location. And at the Brackenbury, pounds 35 will feed two.

Chinon risks oppressing us slightly with its price and presentation. Dining-room staff are certainly merry and capable, yet they lack grace and precision. They wave you in to find your own table. Bread, olives and anchoade are not proffered, but must be requested. This only becomes obvious when staff are gently pestering you to order. Then, once your order is out of the way, you feel the hostess is glad to get back to her own table and gossip (about VAT returns, during our visit).

So: Earth to Planet Chinon. Are you receiving me? The problems with Chinon cannot be located in the A-Z. Its wacky, substantial strengths, along with the failings, lie in its owners' hands.

Chinon, 23 Richmond Way, London W14 (071-602 4082; 5968). Vegetarian meals. Open lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat Access, Amex, Visa.

(Photograph omitted)

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot