The Summerhouse

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.

Sirloin steak
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
Damage: Pricey
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.

The Summerhouse on Urbanspoon


  1. I went to the launch of this but sadly we didn’t get an idea of the food because it was just run of the mill canapes. The drinks were nice but I couldn’t help wondering how the neighbours felt about the whole thing. I mean, the place is on the canal and pretty noisy. I bet the boat dwellers were a bit hacked off. They did have steel drums at the opening though, which made us laugh.

  2. Hmm – I’ve heard the service is also very slow. Shame, as such a lovely position. I haven’t been inspired to visit yet.

  3. Sorry to hear it wasn’t too great. I guess its those crappy ones that make you appreciate the good restaurants so much. You know what they say “gotta kiss a few frogs to find a prince.”
    Have a great weekend.
    *kisses* HH

  4. This is very close to my friend’s house and she suggested we try it; I think I might try and steer her in another direction.

  5. Helen – all the reviews I have read from the opening were quite glowing but not so great since then – I suppose free food and drinks make everything a bit better.

    Greedy Diva – I know it is a great location. It’s not incredibly bad but just a bit disappointing.

    Heavenly Housewife – There are a lot of frogs out there.

    Natasha – Go there for drinks maybe to soak up the atmosphere but I think there is better food nearby.

  6. I had plans to visit friends in Maida Vale this weekend (I make it sound like it’s a foreign country), so initially I was excited to see your post. But now it sounds like I’ll have to find someplace else to eat in MV . . . shame the food was so disappointing. I usually expect and accept *some* diminution in food quality when the setting is so nice, but you gotta draw the line somewhere. Love that MTV Boyfriend ordered the steak. : )

  7. American in London – I think Idlewild or the Prince Alfred and Formosa dining room are better bets

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *