The Farm, in 'up-and-coming' Fulham Broadway, is certainly trying to go places. It's just a pity that it doesn't seem to know where exactly

Boy, hasn't London's Fulham Broadway come on? Everyone is 24 to 29, A or B socio-economic group, with a good suit, skinny girl/boyfriend, and at least three pieces of Danish furniture to their name.

Boy, hasn't London's Fulham Broadway come on? Everyone is 24 to 29, A or B socio-economic group, with a good suit, skinny girl/boyfriend, and at least three pieces of Danish furniture to their name.

The area is deeply in transition, as property agents like to say, which means you can have your parquetry floored designer apartment, but you won't have it for long unless it's in a secure, gated building. It means instead of walking out of the old Tube station into a stinking mob of half-pissed drinkers spilling out of an Irish pub, you now step from a gleaming new Tube station into an air-conditioned, brightly lit retail and cinema complex with a Sainsbury's Central that stocks bok choy cabbage, Italian wine, Belgian chocolates and curry laksa paste.

If you need any more proof of Fulham's emergence into the ranks of the upwardly mobile, then here it is: a new venture from Tom Etridge called the Farm, located in a street that is far-too-prettily named Farm Lane just off the so-called Fulham Island.

Etridge has established a string of reinvented pubs in genteel areas, from Golborne House in Notting Hill and the Wells in Hampstead (with Beth Coventry) to the ones he currently owns, the Ebury in Chelsea and the Waterway in Maida Vale.

What was a back-street boozer is now a modern restaurant and bar fitted out in Bland Contemporary Starbucks style with stools here, low-level lounges there, and a no-cash (credit-card only) policy. A bouncer is at the door to keep out the riff-raff, but he somehow overlooks my party, leaving us to sail through the bar, populated by clumps of chattery locals doing their best not to upset the region's new demographic profile, and into the rear dining-room.

It's a clean, functional space of bare floors and tables, dressed up with huge wheels of golden lights and soft velvet walls the colour of aged red wine. A fat candle on each table adds character, and spot-lit topiaried trees pace out the rear wall of glass.

Lending tone to the kitchen is chef Paul Merrett, who has cooked at Michelin-starred restaurants such as Interlude and the Greenhouse. A Michelin-rated chef in Fulham Broadway? Blimey. But there are a few mixed messages that suggest the menu is still in transition.

To have a roasted diver scallop on black pudding with pea purée and onion gravy as a starter for £9 next to a Caesar salad for £8, a char-grilled fillet of sea bass with saffron risotto for £17 and a steak sandwich for £7.50, gives no clues as to what the chef does best.

The said singular scallop perches formally on a slice of fruit black pudding with a squish of pea purée and a topknot of smoky bacon. It's a big scallop, but it's still more of a canapé than a starter, and nine quid is ludicrous for a canapé. I keep waiting for the waitress to come round with a tray of something else.

A very fine puff-pastry tomato tart (£6) ringed with balsamic and basil oil and topped with a posy of young leaves and crumbled goat's cheese is a pretty little thing, buttery and fragrant, but gone in an instant.

Luckily there are enough reasonably priced wines on the New World/Old World list, among categories labelled Crisp and Dry, Aromatic and Juicy Fruit. A bright young Te Awa Farm Pinotage from Hawke's Bay in New Zealand (£26), is appropriately juicy and fruity.

You would expect a Michelin-starred chef to do a good job of roasted halibut on a clam, bacon and cabbage stew (£16.50), and indeed he does. A manicured, golden baton of fish sits atop a pretty mess of wilted shreds of still-green cabbage, little palourde clams in their shells and wisps of bacon, bathed in stocky juices. What you do not necessarily expect is for the same chef to turn his hand to bar food with equal zeal, but the steak sandwich is a beauty.

Everything has been strategically planned from the choice of a chunky ciabatta roll to the caramelised onion, the tomato, the steak itself - pink-hearted, smoky and as tender as the night - and the squishy coleslaw. Picking it up to bite into it in this environment feels a little like taking your own lunchbox into the opera, but it's just so damn good, sensory overload jams any normal etiquette transmission.

There is a pineapple and mango soup and a warm chocolate fondant with peanut-butter ice-cream on the puddings list (all £5), but I stick in my thumb and pull out a plum tart - perfect, tiny, sugary, the sweet equivalent of the tomato tart - with a sherbety yoghurt, lemongrass and black-pepper sorbet. Cheeses (£7) are well-kept and seasonal.

So there is a good cook in the kitchen, but a slightly confused air to the menu and, indeed, to the whole place. I am left with fond memories of a steak sandwich and a smiling waitress in my right brain, and tiny, pricey portions of aspirational food in my left brain. Is it a casual gastropub, a star-worthy restaurant, or a new breed of upmarket bar/restaurant in an area not quite ready for it?

I can only suggest that it is in transition. I'm just not sure what to, or where from.

14 The Farm 18 Farm Lane, London SW6, tel: 020 7381 3331. Open daily for lunch and Monday to Saturday for dinner. Around £85 for two with wine and service. Credit cards only

Scores 1-9 stay home and cook 10-11 needs help 12 ok 13 pleasant enough 14 good 15 very good 16 capable of greatness 17 special, can't wait to go back 18 highly honourable 19 unique and memorable 20 as good as it gets

Second helpings: More restaurants in farm mode

The Black Pig Rock Road, Rock, Wadebridge, Cornwall, tel: 01208 862 622 Within eight months of opening last year in a converted corner-shop, the Black Pig was awarded a Michelin star. Nathan Outlaw, previously head chef at the Vineyard at Stockcross, sources top produce and turns it into dishes of refinement such as organic salmon with herb risotto, squab pigeon with bitter chocolate and, of course, Old Spot pork with celeriac and apple.

The Cow 89 Westbourne Park Road, London W2, tel: 020 7221 0021 Tom Conran's legendary west London gastropub just keeps on keeping on. Downstairs in the pubby bar is the perfect spot for a pint of Guinness and some oysters. In the more formal upstairs dining-room, the food comes with tablecloths and restaurant manners, with a loyal throng ordering courgette soup with mint, nettle and ricotta ravioli and grilled Dover sole with parsley and cockles.

The Lamb at Buckland Lamb Lane, Buckland, Faringdon, Oxfordshire, tel: 01367 870 484 Start in the woody, welcoming bar of this 18th-century village pub on the edge of the Cotswolds, complete with its exposed beams, open fire and rampant lamb motifs. Then move into the more formal dining-room for British classics such as steak and kidney pie or more contemporary bistro fare of roast Gressingham duck with Seville orange, apple and cider sauce.

E-mail Terry Durack about where you've eaten lately at t.durack@independent.co.uk

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