Graham has previously worked for Nico Ladenis and Richard Corrigan. The restaurant seats 32 and achieved a Michelin Star back in 2004. Graham describes his food as ‘centred on the best local produce, with clean, strong flavours’.
On entering the restaurant it does feel both charming and friendly with a clean homely layout, simple food print art on the walls and a timber frame architecture giving the whole place a 'modern rustic' feel. Menu pricing is simple, £29.50 for two courses, £35 for three.
The menu certainly looks appealing with five choices each on both starters and mains. For the starters we ordered a terrine of pressed Guinea fowl, foie gras and prune, and the grilled asparagus salad with slow cooked duck's egg. Nettle soup, mackerel with cucumber jelly and warmed haddock carpaccio were the other choices.
Before that arrived the bread was served with pork dripping which was a nice touch and an amuse bouche of goat’s cheese and savoury biscuit. Both starters were delicious with the terrine having texture and flavour with the brioche just right, while the asparagus included both tips and shavings, anchovies and a sous vide cooked egg, all attractively presented.
The chicken was what chicken should be and its Anglaise pedigree ensured it had lots of taste, especially the leg, but the gnocchi sadly had a gummy quality to it, perhaps suggesting it had been overworked. At service, we considered the plate to have an overall attractive appeal but looking back at the photos, it too now seems overworked, too busy.
Are we being too critical here? Possibly but The West House now suffers from what might be considered ‘the Michelin gap’, in other words, once you have that coveted star, it sets a level of expectation that doesn’t exist for those not in possession of one. It really invites comparison to other Michelin starred eateries in London, the UK and even the rest of the world but not other restaurants in the Kent area. And while the food was good, the problem areas like the butter and the gnocchi resulted in the venue falling short of what we think a Michelin star means: quality, consistency and service. As Mrs CC put it, ‘an amuse bouche does not a Michelin star make’.
We had an elderflower and rice pudding soufflé for desert which was nice enough (although it had not risen fully on one side but admittedly that's small fry) but overall we came away thinking that while it’s a charming place in its own right and the food is good, it’s probably not good enough against lateral comparisons and not worth making the journey out of London to go there especially. We had hoped that we’d found a little known gem but it fell short of the mark. We might at some stage go back and give it another try perhaps for a dinner service but we’re in no particular rush.
Visit The West House at www.thewesthouserestaurant.co.uk/