By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
It comes as no surprise that five of the six new pubs included in Michelin’s Eating Out In Pubs Guide for 2016 are in West London. While most classic London pub ideals are based on those in the East end, but when it comes to great 21st century London pubs, plenty have been cropping up in the West over the past couple of years, and now there’s a brand new contendor to rival such commended new openings. Opened in September by Luke Mackay and David Turcan, the team behind Brompton Food Market (just around the corner), The Hour Glass in South Kensington has been refurbished and is now thriving once again.
Downstairs the bar has been refurbished in order to showcase its real former glory, albeit prospering from a touch of modernity. It’s also run by live-in-Landlord Henry Gravells, having managed pubs such as The Cabbage Patch in Twickenham and The Pilot Inn in Greenwich (my personal favourite local) and during our visit it’s refreshing to find that the bar is incredibly busy, priding itself on well-kept beer and tantalising bar snacks. Upstairs the cosy 28-seat dining room clad with salvaged church doors doesn’t start to fill until we’re well into our main courses, but come nine ‘o’ clock the atmosphere has lifted to something expected from a traditional pub. What’s also great about The Hour Glass is the fact that there’s not a ‘G’ word prefix in sight, no matter how accomplished the food on offer from Head Chef Tim Parsons.
Heavily based on seasonal produce, there’s no surprise that there’s plenty of game on the menu during our visit. The likes of duck with pearl barley and penny bun broth, potted rabbit and bacon butter, and wood pigeon with pickled quince, black pudding and toasted hazelnuts, are all available for starters. My companion opts for the rabbit dish that’s served with two slices of thick toast (more if you ask politely), the rich rabbit is incredibly flavoursome and works well with the toasted bread, but the taste of the bacon is somehow a little bit lost. Tiny bones that splinter and get stuck in one’s teeth are also not the most comforting of pleasantries. My pigeon dish, on the other hand, is practically perfect; a deep purple breast and leg are served with a rich jus, crunchy black pudding that compliments the bird, and hazelnuts to add a little more texture. The result is spectacular.
Taking advantage of the game produce that’s still available, my main course consists of a whole smoked partridge. To begin, the fact that it’s cooked on the bone does improve the overall product, thus preventing dryness, plus the giblets are thankfully still included. Given the size of the plate, however, it does become difficult to butcher the bird in what eventually turns into a scavenger hunt for every last morsel of delicious smoky meat. Taking a less adventurous route, my friend is compelled to order the flat iron steak, cooked medium at the absolute most, as suggested to prevent toughness. This slab of beef is surprisingly tender and the flavour is delicious, accompanied by triple-cooked dripping chips and a remarkable bone marrow gravy, it’s everything one could ever look for in great pub food.
To apply the finishing touches to the evening’s meal, the dessert menu is very select with just four dishes, one of which is a cheese plate. Chocolate and porter cake is a beery slab of mega indulgence, served with a scoop of inspired Corn Flake ice cream and a nugget of honeycomb, while my dessert of buttermilk pudding (as recommended) is far more appropriate as a palate cleanser, served with figs and honey. There’s something very special about the newly opened Hour Glass, bringing reasonably priced refined pub grub to a location that’s less than a mile from the likes of affluent Knightsbridge and within a stone’s throw from chic Chelsea. And taking this all into account, it’s clear that The Hour Glass’ dining room is going to become very popular, very quickly.
The Hour Glass can be found 279 – 283 Brompton Road, London, SW3 2DY.