Proud of its status as a small family-run restaurant and seeking to provide accessibility to curious gourmands, The West House has attained a high profile with its patrons and critics alike due to its emphasis on quality cuisine and innovation. Graham Garrett seeks to provide a unique culinary experience for diners, listing the elements which go to make his meals in fairly basic terms and then asking visitors to trust in what the kitchen can produce with them; similar, in many ways, to much-lauded Parisian restaurant Spring, proving that small can also mean ambitious and worthy of high praise. The pundits agree, too; West House has won a clutch of awards.
A comfortable, wood-beamed dining room – more like a lounge in a farmhouse which happens to contain a few more tables than you’d expect, rather than a fine dining destination – and friendly, attentive service add to the levels of relaxation and dispel any notions of stuffy formality that visitors might be expecting. Alongside this, the collaborative mood suggested from the kitchen – decide whether you like the main ingredients and let the chef take care of the rest, call twenty-four hours in advance if you’re vegetarian or have any other dietary requirements and something will be rustled up for you – adds to the convivial atmosphere.
Of course, the food itself exceeds any expectations of complacency which might arrive from this. The dishes go far beyond their simple descriptions and marry classic British elements with modern techniques. Bacon and eggs might actually consist of either a breast rasher of lamb, or square of belly pork, cured and served with a wedge of black pudding. Fashionable and seasonal ingredients add to the ‘market kitchen’ feel of the place, and interesting combinations of texture and flavour – baked bone marrow, crab custard, pressed apple with cobnut crumble and so on – add to the picture. The wine list is easily navigable and mostly French-focused; lunches, dinner and a tasting menu are all available.