Pop! That’s the sound of a new “pop up” restaurant opening, this time in Little Venice for the Summer months. The Summerhouse sits right on the canal and is run by the people in charge of the nearby pub, The Waterway. Despite the temporary nature of the restaurant the structure itself is fairly permanent and has been used to house a few restaurants including one called Jasons and another The Boathouse. In honour of its new name and purpose the whole place has been decked out with a nautical theme. Blue and white stripes, pictures of boats and beach pebble flooring give the place a relaxed beach house feel. There are also some clever features like a comfortable bar area and clear plastic blinds that can be rolled up during the day to allow an almost al fresco dining experience.
The place has a nice feel to it and I was pretty excited about eating there until I sat down to the menu and realised that there is nothing I really wanted to order. The Summerhouse is primarily a seafood restaurant, but it is a seafood restaurant that doesn’t have any of the exciting stuff like oysters or fish of the day or seafood platters. Instead, the menu is monotonously predictable. Crispy calamari for starters or perhaps dips to share? There’s nothing wrong with either of those options but also there is nothing that adventurous about them either.
Sweet potato chips
Uninspired we headed straight to the mains. Fish and chips (£16) are a good test of a seafood restaurant and The Summer House’s take on them comprised a large piece of cod coated in a crispy beer batter and served with mushy peas and a tartare sauce. Unfortunately the batter on the fish was thick and flaccid while the chips had been overcooked and so had a cardboard like texture. A better option was the fishcakes (£12) which contained more fish in them than potato which is always a good thing. They featured a crispy breadcrumbed coating around big chunks of pink salmon. Tender spears of asparagus and a smear of smooth Hollandaise sauce added some much needed moisture.
Since MTV boyfriend is a contrary man he ordered the steak (£22) at a seafood restaurant, put on the menu clearly for customers just like him. The steak was sirloin and cut fairly thin. It had been chargrilled to impart a smoky flavour but the meat was not great quality for the price. We also ordered some sides of slightly soggy sweet potato chips (£4) and a desultory rocket and parmesan salad (£4) which was a ridiculously small serving particularly given rocket is in season at the moment.
Just like the starters, the desserts failed to tempt us. They were all ice-cream or berry based and I did not really fancy paying £6 for jelly and ice-cream or £8 for watermelon and strawberries. I loved the Summerhouse setting but based on my meal there London could have survived quite well if this restaurant had never popped up in the first place.
Details: Opposite 60 Blomfield Road, Maida Vale W9 2PD (Ph 020 7286 6752) Tube: Warwick Avenue
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my review of nearby Maida Vale gastro pub Idlewild or you could try making your own fish cakes with this recipe.