For those familiar with the White City of old, put everything you know to one side for a moment. With the development of Westfield, the re-imagining of the BBC building and the arrival of restaurants such as Homeslice and the brand new Japanese dining hall Ichiba: I’m not sure you’d even recognise the place. I certainly didn’t.
Opened just four months ago, Wellbourne Brasserie is one of those new restaurants – just a few steps away from White City station, overlooking the green on White City Place. Head Chefs Ross Gibbens and Michael Kennedy (both formerly of Dabbous) have designed an all-day dining menu which showcases a melange of simple, produce-focussed dishes. The 40-seater restaurant also boasts an al fresco terrace area for 80, a late-night lounge bar and a private dining room. The interior, with its teal and steel accents, reflects the simplicity of the menu, but we opt to have our brunch outside, making the most of the sunshine.
As we explore the menu and sip our iced coffee (simple, strong and refreshing – exactly what the doctor ordered), we’re also served a selection of Vol Au Vents (3 for £6). A speciality at the Brasserie, these come in two varieties: morning (think cinnamon butter and compote) and… well, not morning, I guess. Our selection of three are broad bean, ewe’s milk cheese and mint, salt cod brandade and pulled lamb shoulder with violet mustard. Each tiny pastry case is crispy but melts in the mouth – perfect vessels for their fillings. The salt cod is delicate, the pulled lamb shoulder soft with the heat of mustard cutting through, and the broad bean version a true summer classic: its pea and mint flavours matching seamlessly with the richness of the pastry.
Although it’s early afternoon, we’re enticed by the hot breakfast portion of the menu. In the interest of full disclosure: while the menu does have mains and starters sections, overall it gives me the impression of an all-day brunch menu, rather than all-day dining. That being said, the daily specials board offers further non-breakfast items such as soup, sandwich and a main (in our case a beef burger) to subsidise the brunch offering. Regardless, we order The Wellbourne Breakfast (£13) and smoked mackerel with wild horseradish on homemade crumpets (£8), each washed down with a Bloody Mary.
First, the Bloody Mary – something I simply must try if I see it on a menu, especially with brunch. To my relief, we’re asked how we’d like it (one spicy, one not so much) and that’s how they’re delivered. Both are chilled, yet not watered down by ice, with a slight endnote of Worcestershire sauce. This is precisely how a Bloody Mary should be and is amongst the best I’ve ever tasted. The hearty Wellbourne breakfast includes eggs (served as you like them), homemade bacon, sausage, black pudding, homemade sourdough, mushroom and baked beans. The sourdough is well made, fluffy in the middle with a crunch to the crust. The black pudding fresh and sweet with spices, while the sliced Portobello mushroom is well cooked and generously seasoned. The star of this show, however, is the bacon: salty, still soft but also packing some delightful crunch. A simple dish done well.
The mackerel dish, on the other hand, is full of surprises. As it arrives, my heart sinks. I’m excited but it looks tiny on the plate. Nonetheless, the little dish absolutely delivers. The smoked mackerel tastes as fresh as one could hope for, flaked and tossed with horseradish sauce. All delicately balanced atop homemade crumpets. For my taste, the chefs could have been a bit bolder with the horseradish, alas it’s a tiny flaw in an otherwise excellent dish.
To finish (though we don’t need filling up), we order sorbet. One portion of lemon leaf and one of mango, both of which are sweet (with a little bite in the case of the lemon leaf version) and expertly made. A lovely way to end a sunny Saturday brunch.
Londoners are spoilt for choice when it comes to brunch spots, and while the dishes at Wellbourne Brasserie are nothing out of the ordinary, they’re cooked well, as promised. I’d return for the mackerel and the Bloody Mary, alone.
Wellbourne Brasserie can be found at 195 Wood Lane, London, W12 7FQ.