|A little bit of Italy in Acton|
The Station House Sunday lunch
There are a few historical buildings in Acton that hint ‘if these walls could talk.‘ I’ve always liked The Station House for its sense of being the grande dame of Churchfield Road - a regal looking building, an integral part of the area for well over a hundred years. I imagine the courtyard outside in the old days - carriages turning and dropping passengers at Acton Central Station, porters bustling with bags and boxes.
In 2010 it’s not bustling, but more lounging, in the Station House, warm and inviting on a crisp winter Sunday. We headed upstairs to the Rosso Room, the grand room with chandeliers and big windows, a separate bar and the kitchen. I’ve been to events here in this room, and with the luxurious-sounding name. I always liked it here, all big sofas and sturdy wooden tables - it’s a handy place to hide away with the laptop (free wi-fi!) and spend a ‘working’ lunch.
But being a Sunday, I thought the family might enjoy a Sunday lunch out and the temptation of a visit to nearby Acton Park worked a treat with the 7 year old. Tracey Allum and Raffaele Losito , former work colleagues at a large London restaurant chain, took over The Station House just over a year ago, and already they’ve created a place that is distinct and inviting. The pizzas are well-liked by most locals I’ve talked to, Raffaele tells me the reason they are so good is down to a method of letting the dough rise for forty-eight hours, which in turn is more easily digestible.
Raffaele, from a food-loving family of restauranteurs and chefs from Puglia, says every item on the menu has a little bit of his family in it - recipes for italian sauces taught to him by his mother, right down to the terracotta ramekins made by his grandfather in which a selection of small Italian tapas dishes are slow-cooked, the flavour steeped inside the pots. They use these little pots for the range of Italian tapas, priced individually or 3 for £15, these include Burrata di Puglia - a stuffed mozzarella served with grilled artichokes, Breaded Squid and Tuscan Sausage and Bean Cassoulet. But back to Sunday lunch, or rather a late lunch as we arrived at 4:30 to take advantage of the new live music sessions every Sunday. The music, a duet of guitarist/singer and clarinet, played a great folky mix of Coldplay, Talking Heads and Cure covers.
We didn’t order starters, not because the tapas didn’t look appealing but because I wanted to make sure I had room for pudding. Raffaele had told me earlier that the 28 Day Aged 8oz Rib Eye Steak was one of the most popular items on the menu, so I thought I’d give it a try. Served with chips, rocket and grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, I had mine accompanied by the peppercorn sauce. The steak was nicely medium-rare - luscious and juicy, perfectly grilled. The peppercorn sauce was sharp and rich, layers of garlic and pepper seeping through and blending with the steak. The husband’s a bit of a stickler for a ‘proper’ Sunday lunch so I wondered how he’d fare with Raffaele’s assertion that all of his food has a hint of Italy. But he wasn’t disappointed in his choice of the beef (there is always a choice of beef, lamb, chicken or nut roast on the Sunday roast menu). The vegetables were marinated in Italian herbs and roasted, the rich gravy not too overpowering for the generous slices of beef. The husband in fact said it was the ‘best Sunday lunch’ he’d had in a long time, which is, believe me, the highest honour. The 7 year old’s pepperoni pizza was devoured fairly instantly and it was remarked that the crispy base was ‘actually better’ than that other high street chain of pizza restaurants so loved by British children.
So we had room for desert, thankfully. My panacotta was creamy, perhaps a little too thin, but not too sweet and balanced nicely with warmed berries. But the piece de resistance of an already excellent meal came in the form of a nutella pastry. I wish I’d had my camera to see the eyes light up on my son’s face when a plateful of crispy sweetcrust pastry smeared with chocolate spread arrived. Even the husband, whose last six months have been spent in Atkins-induced carb exile, broke his ‘no sugar’ rule and couldn’t resist his first taste of chocolate in six months. We lingered on, listening to the music, our bill coming to just over £45, with a glass of wine and espresso to finish. Not bad for a ‘perfect’ sunday lunch with a variety of menu choices, excellent wine list and daily specials.
The Station House is the sort of place where you can arrive at two in the afternoon and easily stay until the evening, wiling away the hours with good food, great music and good company. The Station House serves food all day, every day and has daily drinks specials.
12 December 2010