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Owner Tom Conran was a gastropub pioneer, and the Cow continues to serve fine, pricey, fish-oriented food in its upstairs restaurant. Eating in the smallish downstairs bar is a different proposition: seating is pub-style (small round tables, banquettes and stools); the short menu is chalked on a blackboard, and no reservations are taken. It’s unpretentious, down to the anti-decor red lino and the yellowing ceiling, with drinkers at the front putting away well-poured Guinness and a good selection of Belgian and other beers, while diners at the back enjoy some fine food and a boho west London vibe.
Again, seafood takes centre stage, with oysters, whelks and winkles, and prawns by the pint. Tiger prawns, for a starter, were big and juicy, served in an unashamedly rich sauce. But the star attraction was fish stew with rouille and croûtons: mussels, salmon, little bits of fish in batter, all packed into a heavily flavoured, dark, dense and soupy sauce, dotted with little flakes of chilli (the rouille also packed some chilli heat) – a sumptuous version of a classic. Tagliolini with crab, tomato and chilli was also a winner: a generous amount of crabmeat, subtly warm with chilli, served with pasta cooked precisely al dente. The likes of steak and sausages round out the bar menu. Staff were charming.
89 Westbourne Park Road
|Transport:||Royal Oak or Westbourne Park|
|Price:||Main courses £10-£22. Set lunch (Sun) £22 2 courses, £26 3 courses|
|Opening hours:||Open noon-11pm Mon-Sat; noon-10.30pm Sun. Lunch served noon-3.30pm, dinner served 6-10.30pm Mon-Fri. Meals served noon-10.30pm Sat; noon-10pm Sun|
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