The Duke of Richmond is a pub in the neighbourhood of Hackney run by Tom Oldroyd and is missus Meryl Fernandes, an actor formally of Eastenders who styled the place. There are bare floorboards, pistachio panelled walls and blackboards with enchanting specials. It feels like an expression of French bistro love when I see the menu with food that is classic French cookery fuelled by girolles liver parfait, ratatouille provençal and indulgent amounts of butter. Tom earned his pedigree cooking at much lauded Bocca di Lupo and was head chef of the Polpo before opening self-named cult restaurant Oldroyd in 2015 of Islington. It’s also a proper pub where you can get a proper pint and crowd pleasing pickled onion Monster Munch to accompany it with. What’s there not to like about that? The venue is partitioned into a general pub and a 30 cover dining area, each serving different menus. The food is seasonally British with a French elocution of course and there is a terrace for mooching too.
I got lost at how good the starters looked and if you dither like me, then rest assured you can get “all the starters” for £38. That’s not bad between two people.
The warm sour dough comes with a reassuringly good crust and a subtle adhesion to the fingers when pressing against the wonderfully uneven bubbly centre.
Sweet cherentais melon and Bayonne ham with a good cracking of pink peppercorns was understated but an indulgent combo – it speaks loudly of refreshing flavours and u
Green salad with a spritely dressing comes armed with a wedge overtly pungent baked tunworth. If cheese is your jam then you’ll love this. Don’t ask me to eat cheese though as it’s not part of my skillset, especially when it comes start from the barn.
Rich duck liver parfait get’s confectionary sweet apricot membrillo and toast which served no real purpose but to crumble every where. I defaulted to that gorgeous sour dough instead.
Cornish crab soufflé came golden brown with slightly concaved centre. It seemed like it was ashamed of itself. A shamefully cold prawn bisque was the moisture to the party. In candidness, I couldn’t make friends with the intense fishiness of the dish and left most of it.
Then came the crispy vol au vent, a hollow shell of puff pastry filled with Scottish girolles cooked in cream with English pea and solid grating of truffle. If you like umami then this dish brings it by the truck load, it brought a shot of adrenaline to the otherwise sedate meal.
Tomato confit tart came last, a blast of heat gave the homemade puff pastry some bubbling and browning. A spoon of black olive tapenade and crème fraîche finish off the story. It was like the other dishes un-shouty and tasted a bit lacklustre. It was just a bit soulless.
When did I go? July 2018
The damage: Expect to pay £30/35 per head with a glass of vino.
The good: It was hard to pick out any stand-out moments of the meal, it was like an album of unforgettable tracks, with perhaps one song that might bring you back for another listen. The vol au vent was that one song that came close. I found myself scooping the truffle laden sauce with the sublime sour dough. Which leads me to say that what I really rated was the sour dough, the version here was full of positive lactic notes, crunch and lacy dough – all the hallmarks of a good one.
The bad: I travelled from SW London to eat here, it’s an awful long way to come. I don’t mind doing the miles as long as the food warrants it. To my chagrin I found the meal a bit dull. And where was the crab chip butty that everyone raved on about? Apparently it was a bar only item, even still it wasn’t available. Meh.
Would I go again? Still deciding…
Address: 316 Queensbridge Rd, Hackney, London E8 3NH