Any restaurant that ditches the ubiquitous Polpo look (bare bulbs, exposed brick and subway tiles) for something fresh gets my thumbs-up. So honey-wood floorboards, pastel chairs and quirky features such as a restored dumb-waiter earn this neighbourhood venture brownie points.
Siblings and Streatham residents Robin and Melanie Frean set up Hood together. They got their hands dirty with the refit, hired a local chef who had worked at Le Caprice, and crowdsourced £11,000 – £6,000 more than their original target – for finishing touches (a blackboard ‘thank you wall’ is dedicated to donors who pledged more than £50). Getting the community involved proved great publicity – Hood was almost full on a Wednesday night.
The short menu pays attention to seasonality and provenance, and our dishes mostly worked. The house salad contained enough luxurious ingredients (tasty, skin-on chicken strips and a deep-fried runny egg) to feel special, while a generous slab of crisp-skinned hake was nicely matched with clams and tender slices of sweetly braised artichoke. Rich, juicy mackerel with blackened skin and pickled vegetables was only let down by a hopelessly underpowered horseradish cream.
Our waiter’s habit of peering at the dishes in his hands, locating an identifiable ingredient, then triumphantly asking, ‘The fish?’ was idiosyncratic. But such faltering service aside, Hood shows real promise.