Bistro by Shot
28 Parsons Green Lane, London SW6 4HS
020 7371 7533
Bistro by Shot is rather discreetly tucked away on Parsons Green Lane, with just a distinctive red logo sign and open door to announce its presence. Inside, all is clean Scandinavian style – white stone tables; wooden floors, benches and bar. The walls are pure white, with some wooden panelling in the little snug area (a covetable table but alas, not where we were seated), and lighting hangs quirkily from wires above the bench seating (with bulbs redolent of Edison’s designs) and in wooden framed boxes over the bar. Bottles are set on clean white shelves behind the bar and a glass display offers a tempting array of truffles and cheesecakes, while an impressive-looking coffee machine sits on the end of the bar. The only other colour in the room, apart from the light pine and the stark white, is a dark grey, which flanks both ends of the bar and the entrance end of the room, and in which window and door frames are painted.
The seating is rather cafe-style, with the bench seating facing the bar, and just the table and opposing chairs intervening, and as a result, feels just slightly temporary. The ambience and feeling is certainly more of a cafe than a restaurant. This is exacerbated by the fact that tables are undressed, yet they feature tumblers for water, proper wine glasses, respectable linen napkins, decent cutlery and a tea light in a glass. Irritating popular music was playing when we visited, but thankfully so low that it was drowned out once there were a few other patrons in.
The staff are friendly and professional; kind and thoughtful. Water is offered at once (Italian mineral water), and bread follows shortly, still slightly warm from the oven. This was worryingly moreish – crusty and extremely fresh, slightly salty white bread, served along with butter and a dab of sea salt on a slate. A good start to the meal.
The evening menu and wine list are both fairly short, and the wine list doesn’t mention countries of origin, although it does, pleasingly, have brief and informal descriptions. The menu starts with some rather sophisticated “snacks” (such as burrata) and then contains around six to eight starters and main courses, with a few sides (including chips cooked in duck fat, which we only just managed to resist).
To drink, I choose the Barbera D’Asti 2012 “Il Casconone” from Italy: a very understated, elegant bottle at once boded well, and we weren’t disappointed with the contents. Dark in colour and blackly fruity on the nose, the palate was full of woodland tastes – dark brambles and blackberries and currants, with some tar and ash on the finish and a sweetly tempering hint of liquorice. Baby Tristan’s apple juice was squeezed there and then on the spot and so had a frothy cap of bits of apple, with the clear, sweet juice beneath. This was surely the freshest and most delicious apple juice I have ever tasted (and, yes, Tristan did get to drink of some of it – and loved it as well!) – just gloriously appley.
I started with the ham hock terrine, which was served with toast and a buttery sauce. This, a nice great thick slab of terrine, was beautifully moist and extremely flavoursome, with the salty ham hock interlaced with sweeter onion for extra flavour. I found it quite delicious and extremely moreish – the perfect starter.
My husband’s pea and bacon soup was more of a velouté featuring a small number of bacon lardons, rather than a soup. It was extraordinarily fresh and bursting with essence of pea; sweet and rich; and a generous portion to boot. The only quibble about this was the spoon that accompanied it – it wasn’t a proper soup-spoon, but rather more of a large dessert spoon in terms of shape and depth. This forced my husband to eat the soup like a savage, which was distressing for him (if not for me and other diners!).
We then shared a huge dish of braised shoulder of lamb, which came on its own board, with a small jug of gravy, a bowl of slightly crunchy Jersey Royals and kale. The lamb itself was beautifully tender – literally falling off the bone and with a full and rich flavour, and it was well matched by its accompaniments (although I found the potatoes a little on the hard side). We also ordered broccoli with almonds – this was absolutely delicious – sweet tender-stem broccoli cooked perfectly in salty butter with crunchy almonds providing a contrast of texture and flavour. The staff also kindly and thoughtfully (and completely spontaneously) brought a bowl of sweet potato mash for Tristan (who was otherwise just sharing parts of our meal), which he greatly enjoyed and appreciated.
The dessert menu included ice cream made by Bistro by Shot’s sister branch, Valrhona chocolate fondant (again, difficult to resist) and dessert wines. Mr Marshall-Luck and Tristan shared the panacotta, which came nicely presented in a glass jar with a topping of strawberry jelly / jam. The panacotta itself was creamy yet light – not too rich or heavy, and the shortbread biscuits which accompanied it were also gorgeously light and crumbly. By contrast, my chocolate truffles were immensely dark and rich – full of bitter chocolate and dusted with cocoa and some of these were immediately appropriated by Tristan. Just as well that the staff had provided a generous number for my enjoyment!
On the whole, we found this a delightful dining experience, with rather superb food and excellent service. I did, however, feel that we would have preferred to have been in a space that better fitted the excellence of the food with more elegant, lavish and refined surroundings, as there could be no doubt that the cafe-style dining accommodation didn’t match food that I would without doubt call “fine cuisine”. But do not let this put you off; if you find yourself in the Chiswick area, you know where to go.