Wellbourne Brasserie in White City: Casual, comfort food from the acclaimed alumni of Dabbous
Wellbourne Brasserie is the latest culinary venture by Ross Gibbens and Michael Kennedy, two of the chefs behind the immensely successful Dabbous. Situated on a comfortable corner of the old BBC centre in White City, the restaurant is surrounded by bars and design outlets that bespeak a similar vision: casual, stylish dining in what is hoping to become a buzzing commercial hub. The venue itself is ready for this increased footfall, but at its size remains quiet on a midweek evening. High-ceilinged and spacious, the building is perfumed with the expectation of smouldering charcoal from the oven – a sweet and warming scent that you stand to miss if you take a seat outside on the verandah.
Reading through the menu, there is a distinctly Mediterranean feel to this modern British venture. This is hardly surprising given the other two locations for Wellbourne are the Spanish Pyrenees and Bristol. Before the arrival of our starters, four charming vol-au-vents appear at the table. Laid out on slate, these are far from drab relics of our national cuisine. Most surprising is the pulled lamb shoulder with violet mustard, the sauce sweet and floral even against the richness of the meat. Next, the fresh burrata with shaved yellow courgette and mint is wonderfully creamy and well balanced, far outstripping the charcoal mussels with vinaigrette and sourdough.
The mains herald the consummation of the promise from the inviting smokey smell which still pervades the room. Dishes from the grill are served without sides, and the presentation feels somewhat barren against the white crockery. The whole mackerel with fennel and cod’s roe sees the protein overshadowed by the fresh vegetable on the plate. Off the meat trail, the Socca Niçoise (a chickpea pancake) with barbecued peppers and giant couscous is a collection of three separately delicious components; the Iberico Secreto, cooked to a rosy pink, sits a little unceremoniously on the plate, and despite great colouring remains a little chewy.
Desserts at the restaurant are sweet, sumptuous and comforting. The Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Sandwich is an impish mix of sugary and salty, bookended by an excellent biscuit on either side, with the Cambridge Burnt Cream (a thoroughly British translation of creme brulée) coming a close second. These matter-of-fact classics provide a fitting punctuation to the meal as a whole.
Wellbourne Brasserie may not reach the astronomic heights of its forefathers, but it is definitely on message – the side of the menu lists their local and British suppliers all the way from cheese to charcoal. A little zest and refinement to build on its illustrious pedigree and the demonstrated skill of the restaurant’s founders would go a long way.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Maria Barrios
To book a table at Wellbourne Brasserie, Unit 2 Westworks Building 195 Wood Lane White City West London W12 7FQ, call 020 3417 4865 or visit their website here.