I received a mailer in April, announcing the opening of The Summerhouse, and was particularly intrigued by the pop-up concept. Very simply, The Waterway, the main restaurant, opens Summerhouse, which literally pops up only for the summer from April to October. I’ve not heard of anything like that, other than pop-up boutiques, and was so excited that I picked up the phone at once to make a reservation for a lunch date with hubby. Only….he didn’t know…yet.
Fast forward a month later, it was time for lunch at The Summerhouse and the weather was looking good with the sun on its best behaviour. I had to work that weekend, and the lunch date was a welcoming break.
The minute we stepped into The Summerhouse, the nautical and Hampton’s beach house-inspired interiors transported us to another realm that we have been yearning for ages. Because The Summerhouse sits right on the waters on Little Venice in Maida Vale, we were suddenly, momentarily treated to a holiday in tempting summer, by the ‘beach’, completely relaxing, laid-back and almost lazy.
Service was regrettably slow, but we didn’t really mind because we spent most of our time catching up, laughing at our silly jokes and watching ducklings hurry past as they were chased by the boats passing through.
Our first appetiser arrived in two portions of two sub-portions each, as opposed to the one that we ordered. Turned out that the waiter had keyed in two orders, so one was on the house, woohoo! The popcorn shrimp was fried in a spiced, fragrant batter and they arrived in the cutest white buckets. I happily picked the shrimps up and dunked them into the sweet chilli sauce as we waved at the passers-by on the boat.
We could never just have one appetiser of course, so naturally we had to have another and we went for the yellow fin tuna carpaccio. The fish was fresh, and when paired with rocket, parmesan and truffle oil, it was the perfect start to a light, summery lunch in the semi-outdoors. The portion was painfully small though, so our plate was cleared out in no time.
For mains, M had The Summerhouse Fish Pie, which, to say the least, was disappointing and horrible given its drool-worthy presentation. We have made pies a million times better than that with our eyes closed. The pie was way too salty, had too much potato and barely any fish. The mash potato was undercooked and watery. I always say that if people want to make mash potatoes, it would be a heinous crime to scrimp on the butter and full-fat milk! But of course, the good people at The Summerhouse weren’t looking out for our health. We suspected that they were rushing to meet our orders, having made us wait eons for the food to arrive, so someone probably fished the potatoes out before they were actually done, and failed to drain off all the water before mashing them. Pity.
I had the beer-battered cod and chips, which was touted to be the best fish and chips in town. The presentation was perfect, and if not for the over-generous sprinkle of sea salt on the fish, it was indeed the best I’ve had in London. The cod was cooked just enough to retain all its moisture and sweetness, and the chips were the best I’ve had aside from those I had in Belgium. M was very jealous as he laboured through the unappetising fish pie.
We didn’t manage to have dessert, as we finished our lunch at 4pm and didn’t want to spoil our appetites for dinner.
I think a lunch date is great at The Summerhouse. The food is rather affordable, our bill came up to £20 per person. I think it’s well-worth paying for the decent food, but mostly for the ambience and experience of dining at a pop-up restaurant right on the water, no less! I can’t remember the last time that I felt this idle! So do stop by while it exists this summer, if you miss it, you will have to wait till next year, and even then, summer days might not be as warm and inviting as the ones we’re blessed with now. Seize the chance and grab a seat now, whilst summer lasts!
The Summerhouse is located here:
Opposite 60 Blomfield Road, London W9 2PD