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
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before