Of Lambs and Red Herrings
The damp January weather creeps uncomfortably down the backs of our collars and our hands are blue with cold. Cherry blossom, daffodils and gamboling lambs are still a good few months away, as we fervently wish for spring and warm rays of sun. What better then, to make the most of the situation and head to a cosy pub? Even better, one with a name that holds promise of the pleasures of spring?
The Lamb in Barley Mow Passage fits the bill perfectly. Once called the Barley Mow, meaning sheaf of barley, it has been licensed since 1761 and belonged to the Lamb Brewery, the lamb being the symbol of resurrection and spring. Hidden away in this historic cobbled little passage, it was considered to be very much off the beaten track until an entrance and a beer garden on the Chiswick High Road side was added in the 1980s. It’s a big pub but cleverly sectioned off into different areas, so there is always a convivial little corner to sit in comfortably and sip your bevy of choice and, in the summer, there’s the popular garden.
What’s so nice about this place is, that in this world of trendy gastro pubs, it retains a wonderful air of ye olde worlde watering hole. Dark stained wooden floors and furniture, the odd red banquette, dark painted walls, leather sofas, pictures and mirrors, the long bar and clever lighting, all make for an inviting ambience. Staff are friendly and relaxed, and you might just as well be in a picturesque country local.
Let’s not make any bones about it, this is not an establishment where you come to eat a gourmet meal. If that’s what you want, pop over to Foxlow’s on the other side of the passage or to any number of other excellent Chiswick eateries. At The Lamb, you get a small menu of bar snacks and typical pub grub. No fancy pants ‘foam’ or ‘jus’ here, just decent stomach lining for the next round of drinks, all very casual. So okay, they serve a couple of Asian inspired dishes here, even sourdough or risotto, and also some vegetarian options, but it’s all quite simple and unpretentious.
My bar snack portion of Fried Squid in a Sweet Chilli Glaze is very enjoyable. Sure, a little cloying as these sweet and sour dishes invariably are, and possibly not the healthiest, most slimline option, but just perfect for there and then, over a bottle of wine and in the fabulous company of my handsome nephew, with whom I was having a long overdue gossipy catch up session, coupled with a drink or two, or three to celebrate his birthday. He, on the other hand, chooses the healthiest dish on the menu, a main course portion of Red Pepper and Quinoa Burger with Sweet Potato Fries. Again, this tastes great and does its job very well. I wouldn’t say that it sets the world on fire, but it’s thoroughly tasty and the chips nicely crispy. No complaints there whatsoever.
The nephew and I chat away at the rate of knots, putting the world to rights, reliving old memories, exchanging advice and making plans for the future, as is our way. My nephew is German but went to school in the UK. A good few years ago now, he passed his A-levels with impressive grades. However, he nearly came a cropper when, in his English exam, one of the questions asked was whether a particular passage in Shakespeare’s Macbeth was a ‘red herring’. As a foreigner, he was completely flummoxed by this question, wracking his brains on how exactly a crimson coloured fish came into the great bard’s writing. To this day we laugh about this anecdote every time we meet, so I was thrilled to find a birthday card depicting a restaurant scene with the waiter offering a ‘red herring’ on an empty plate. Eventually, it’s almost time to go home but we know each other just too well. We are both lambs to the slaughter in all matters of pudding, so a cheeky Warm Chocolate Brownie with Hazelnut Ice Cream just has to be shared at the 11th hour. Sweet, sticky and moist, it ticks all the boxes for a sweet farewell.
Our food bill comes to just under £30 with service and drinks on top.
What I wore
White ‘Paige’ jeans, pale blue M&S cashmere jumper, Accessorise silk butterfly scarf, pink suede Manolo Blahnik lace up ankle boots, light pink Zara coat, Etoupe Hermes Birkin, handprinted by artist Boyarde Messenger.
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