|The George and Dragon Still On Form|
New menu, new sounds on Acton High Street
On one of the coldest nights of the year, the last thing I felt like doing was trudging down Acton High Street. I’m a big supporter of Acton but let’s face it, the High Street could do with a facelift, or at least a little botox.
The gem of Acton High Street has been, for the last few years, the 17th century George and Dragon Pub. And despite a recent change in landlords, a new chef and a new menu, it’s still one one of Acton’s hidden gems, squashed between the High Street’s betting shops, empty shops and pound shops.
Walking through the cozy warmth of the front pub with its roaring fire and dark-paneled walls, I couldn’t help but think that the George and Dragon epitomizes everything that is Acton - the grime of the high street contrasts so starkly with the inside of the George, its interior lovingly restored in 2006 to its glory of the 1700s when it was a meeting place on the road from London to Oxford.
And the clientele too is as Acton as you can get - suited estate agents enjoying a Friday night drink, groups of 20-something backpackers, older men in Islamic dress enjoying a non-alcoholic chat, the casual atmosphere makes it a perfect place for a meet up whatever your age or creed.
The back room of the George and Dragon is always a joy to enter - the huge statues of nymphs make me smile, and the large mural of lush jungle plants, while out of context on a wintry evening, is a reminder that in Acton, nothing is ever as it seems.
The sultry, smooth sounds of the West London Jazz Quartet, now playing every Friday, accompanied an almost perfect meal. This foursome of local students again represents the diversity of Acton, well of London really - all manner of backgrounds are part of this group, from Spanish to Serbian and the lead singer’s voice made for a laid-back, relaxed atmosphere.
Our starter of sauteed prawns in lemon and parsley butter came piping hot, a good balance of lemon and garlic drizzled over the top. Even the husband, who usually shies away from both starters and shellfish, couldn’t resist and only a sharp, gentle slap made him stop from devouring the whole plate. A salad of radish, apple and chicory, sprinkled with Colston blue cheese and walnuts was surprisingly refreshing, especially when salads in winter often seem so unappealing.
I declined on the Angus Steak Burger but seeing the table next to us with their platefuls of large juicy burgers and lovely crispy chunky chips, I almost regretted it. The menu is constantly changing, says new landlord James Sla, with 'proper' English food for lunch and dinner.
The husband had the corn-fed chicken breast stuffed with brie and sage, wrapped in parma ham, with a good pile of buttered greens. The rich red wine sauce that it came with looked amazing, a cacophony of colours and flavours that he appreciated. Husband being the chicken king, his only comment was that he couldn’t really taste the brie, but the lovely hot plate and crispy parma ham was still enough to satisfy his delicate palate.
I chose the wild mushroom risotto, not because I’ve become a vegetarian - it just sounded like a good combination - wild mushrooms with rocket, parmesan and white truffle oil. I’m a sucker for a good white truffle and I wasn’t disappointed. The risotto was warm and creamy, the whiff of white truffle just enough, the parmesan melted creamily in with the rocket.
We were too stuffed for puddings, even with the temptation of apple crumble with ‘proper’ custard and assorted cheeses. Our bill came to £40 exactly, including a few glasses of the frulli - strawberry wheat beer.
The George and Dragon has gone through so many changes over the years - from a meeting and drinking house in the 1700s, reincarnated as a shebeen in the 80s and 90s, restored to its original glory in 2006, many many landlords and chefs. But it feels like its found its feet and I could happily spend another lazy evening listening to jazz, eating delicious properly cooked
English food, an extensive, award winning wine list and large array of beers and lagers. The George and Dragon is one of Acton's high points and somewhere that frankly needs to be supported as one of its classiest local businesses.
The West London Jazz Quartet plays at The George and Dragon every Friday from 7pm until late.
December 08, 2010