It’s a Bull’s-eye for Bistro By Shot Parsons Green
The restaurant looks inviting, although the location is in that bit in-between the confident swagger of Chelsea and Fulham and the trendy drinking session of Putney. Perched on Parsons Green Lane (just a few doors up from the District Line tube station itself) it makes for an ideal stop off or a destination in itself for those seeking something imaginative, assured in style and rich in flavour.
It’s deceptively large inside, with an extension out back that provides room for just enough, but not too many people. It’s sparsely decorated with extremely upright chairs, but the vibe is relaxing and buzzy without ever becoming overbearing.
The menu is pleasantly short and very interesting, so we made sure we mixed up the dishes for as much range as we could. They also have a board with some good specials on too.
For starters we had a Beef tartare with twice cooked duck fat chips. Unfortunately it was presented on restaurant’s choice of plate for starters and desserts – a black piece of black slate, which made the fork grate unpleasantly akin to running one’s fingernails down a blackboard. But that’s where the bad news stops, for it was excellently prepared and gave R flashbacks to the way in which it was prepared by her Dutch father when she was young. Topped with a beautiful little quail egg its texture was perfect; not too smooth, not too chunky and perfectly blended with a slight kick of Tabasco to finish. As with any good steak tartare there was the hint of gherkin or capers. The chips were just as one would hope – delicious, flavour packed pieces. There was fabulous home-made butter and bread on the table too, but the texture distracted from the steak – some thin rye thin crisps would have made it a 10/10, especially given its very reasonable price.
The other starter we had was a complete contrast to the rich luxuriousness of the steak. Cucumber cannelloni with crab was a gobsmacking whack to the senses that was fresh and refreshing. The filling gave that perfect blend of creaminess and zing and crunch with the citrus coming through in a perfectly balanced way. They were surrounded by avocado and olive tapenade swirls that were delicious (but largely left due to the infernal slate on which it was presented). This really was nearly another 10/10 dish.
The wine list was good, with a great range of choice and price points, served by the glass or the bottle by the attentive service and knowledgeable wine waiter. We had a bright and well balanced Multipuciano Dabruzzo from the lower end of the list, and followed it up with the much smoother house red which was a Granach and Syrah blend.
In the un-hurried break between courses that gives you the confidence that care is being taken we were given a bonus taster – a scallop with bacon with a nipple of lemon mousse. This was a wonderfully compact collection of amazing flavours – perfectly chosen to give a mouthgasm.
For the main course we chose Duxelles ravioli, with salsifys (a root vegetable similar to parsnip, and yes, we had to google it too) and Cornish cress. It was wonderfully rich in flavour, the mushroom able to come through over the immaculately prepared pasta and the powerful hit of Parmesan. This richness was then balanced out by the fresh, flavourful and crunchy Cornish cress. The salsifys was perfectly prepared and truly delicious – why don’t we see more of this stuff around? A knockout dish.
The other main course was a beautiful piece of Halibut on Fregola (a beautifully textured mash made from corn, similar to stump millies for those familiar with that South African staple) with citrus undertone – maybe lemongrass – accompanied by sautéed leeks and a savoury hazelnut pesto. Yet more perfect mouthfuls.
For dessert lovers there are some real dilemmas here, so we freestyled a little. The cheeses were excellent and obviously well cared for – Comté and Tallegio presented in just the right portion size. They were perfectly matched with the bread. R liked the oat cakes they were presented with but they’ve never been one of my favourites. There was a short pause for the truly exquisite, perfect chocolate fondant. We couldn’t resist asking for some of the honeycomb that is normally served with the ice creams and we didn’t regret it in the slightest. It was again made in house (where do they find the time?) and hit that perfect balance of flavour, explosiveness and subsequent chewy satisfaction. As one last treat we also had a rich, bitter sweet chocolate truffle (just £1.50 each) – a really superb treat and ideal for those looking for a little something; but nothing more.
The atmosphere was quite convivial and in sharing the honeycomb with the table next to us (it was a huge piece) we asked them how their meal was, and we found that whilst they too had an amazing meal there had been some struggle in getting the steak cooked to their liking. Now; this is a very subjective thing (one person’s rare is another’s blue, one person’s well done is another’s shoe leather and so on) so perhaps when you go for the beef just check for understanding when you order. It looked fantastic on their plates when I looked across – more than enough for some serious food envy.
So we came away very satisfied and impressed. And glad that it was only a short stumble to the station. Bistro By Shot deserves a visit, make a point of it. It’s not overpriced and offers a real sense of someone taking care over the recipe, the ingredients, their preparation and presentation. It’s very close to a perfect five.
• Food (menu) 4/5
• Taste 5/5
• Drinks 5/5
• Affordability 4/5
• Atmosphere 4/5
• Service 5/5
Overall experience 4.5/5
Reporters: M and R