Simon says… it’s time to celebrate 25 years of Bradleys in Swiss Cottage
In a cut-throat industry, cooking of the highest order has kept this discrete Swiss Cottage venue in business
30 March, 2017 — By Tom Moggach
Bradleys in Swiss Cottage is a modern, ravishing, chic space
BRADLEYS Restaurant in Swiss Cottage is celebrating 25 years in business – a miraculous achievement in this cut-throat world.
What’s the secret? Cooking of the highest order. And a fiercely loyal tribe of regular customers.
For a quarter of a century, chef Simon Bradley has been quietly working his socks off at this stylish restaurant in Winchester Road.
This discrete venue is next door to Arabesque – reviewed last week – and a few minutes’ walk from Hampstead Theatre, the weekly farmers’ market and Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre.
“I still have people who live down the road and have never visited us,” says Simon, who doesn’t seem that bothered – his restaurant is often packed to the rafters.
This is serious, high-calibre cooking. Bradleys has held the Michelin Bib Gourmand since 2009, an award that recognises high quality food and value for money. The set menu (available early evening and lunchtimes) is £19.50 for two courses; three for £23.50. A three-course fixed price menu is £28.95.
I’d never met Simon before turning up for dinner last Saturday. These days, he mainly manages front of house but keeps a firm hand on the kitchen.
“I come in the morning and still get a thrill – soon it will be asparagus, peas and broad beans and off we go again.”
Ingredients are often locally sourced. Meat is from Barrett’s Butchers up the road; fresh produce from the farmers’ market; fish from day boats operating out of Brixham in Devon.
We took a table in the far corner of the dining room. This is a ravishing, chic space – modern in feel, with abstract art on the walls and a backdrop of lushly planted back garden.
The food hovers somewhere between modern British and French, with flashes of the classical techniques Simon learnt as a trainee chef.
Best of our starters was a sensational ceviche: sparkling fresh crab and mullet, decorated with watercress fronds and slivers of blood orange. A dish of pan-fried scallops was all about texture – sweet, soft flesh balanced by crunchy samphire and florets of Romanesco cauliflower. Our squash-stuffed tortellini were expertly made, although they cried out for some sauce for lubrication.
The menu changes with the seasons. Main courses included sea bass, turbot, lamb and a broccoli flan.
Our venison was lightly smoked, served with cavolo nero and a cunning sweet-sour, peppery sauce. “We smoked it using last year’s Christmas tree,” explains Simon.
The puddings lists stars a caramelised pear tarte tatin with cinnamon ice cream and a decadent crema catalana with neon-pink poached rhubarb.
Needless to say, a top-notch meal like this is something of a treat. Bradleys is a classy choice for dates, birthdays and special occasions.
But the set menus are no more expensive than many gastro-pubs round here. The peerless Sunday roast is £27 for two courses.
“You don’t have to go to the West End and pay fancy prices,” says Simon. He has every reason to be chuffed with Bradleys big birthday.
25 Winchester Road, NW3
020 7722 3457