Featured Restaurant: Friends

1st December 2017

11 High Street • Pinner • HA5 5PJ • 020 8866 0286

Reviewed by Alan Cox

Steeped in history, the quaint black and white Tudor cottage that’s home to Friends restaurant is just as characterful outside as it is inside. With its slightly uneven floors, exposed black beams and white walls, there’s a great deal of historic charm to the place – it feels like stepping back in time…

There are just five tables comfortably filling the ground floor, and not many more on the floor above, so it’s perfect for those seeking a quiet and intimate meal. And quiet is certainly my first impression on our arrival. A little light background music might have helped to lift the slightly solemn mood and ease the hushed conversations whilst the restaurant starts to fill.

Here, service is as traditional and formal as its starched linen table cloths: it’s all rather prim and proper. We start with a delightful little appetiser of a glass crisp (tricky to pick up, it’s so fragile) topped with little dots of avocado purée – an unusual, and remarkably tasty, little morsel.

My wife’s long-standing love affair with Scallops is nourished by a starter pairing them with langoustine, cauliflower and truffle. This is a pretty looking plate, with parsnip foam adding an artistic flourish to the well-seared and succulent shellfish.

My starter choice, Rabbit, a most delicate-looking dish. Poached loin, croquette, and roast liver with pickled walnuts, mushrooms, carrots and jelly piccalilli are all present and correct, but in micro size. Sometimes less is more, I know, but I feel I need more generously sized pieces of game to really appreciate the varied tastes and textures before me.

For my main course I choose Pan-Fried Fillet of Hake, served with watercress, courgette, blue radish and nasturtium, along with a scattering of new potatoes. This is an attractive offering, simply presented, with a light butter sauce as a dressing. The fish is nicely fresh and fleshy, but with the contemporary trend for presenting fish skin side up, I would have expected it to be crispy.

My wife’s Duck Breast (succulent and cooked pink) is served with sour cherries and a medley of pumpkin, parsnip and hispi cabbage tossed together on the side. It’s not the prettiest or most artistically-presented offering, but her empty plate speaks volumes.

There is a comprehensive selection of wines by the bottle, but surprisingly, only three whites and reds by the glass. I choose a South African Sauvignon Blanc to accompany my fish, and a robust Malbec goes well with the duck.

To conclude, my wife chooses the intriguingly named Lychee Cloud, which arrives attractively presented on a square plate. The passion fruit sorbet is amazingly fruity, and the additional elements of coconut marshmallow and mango complement it nicely. This definitely stands out from the crowd, especially when washed down with a very agreeable glass of chilled Sauternes.

My Orange Bread and Butter Pudding, served with dollop of lovely honey ice cream on the top, is light, fluffy and has a subtle orange taste, but, sadly, is a little bland.

Friends is unquestionably a very popular restaurant and has been delighting local diners for many years. It’s great to find a traditional high class establishment doing so well, particularly among all the more casual and cheaper end eateries. But for me, bearing in mind the price ticket, the ‘wow factor’ has been a little elusive this evening…

STARTERS: £4.50-£10.50 • MAINS: £17.95-£26.50
DESSERTS: £6.50-£8.50 • HOUSE WINE: £22.50

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