Parade is in Ealing - a nice enough suburb for people practicing being in a coma, or if youre stuck in a traffic jam on the M40 and looking for a diversion. My elder son, currently goes to school there, but even this is not an inducement to visit often. The last time I went to pick him up I got stuck in the multi story car park in a borrowed Lotus Elise. I stopped too close to the barrier to open the door and the car was too low to reach the ticket slot which totally spoiled my Jackie O goes Eurotrash moment. It took ten agonising minutes to attract the attention of the helpful passer by who freed me. What kind of impression I would have made without the car hardly bears thinking about.
Parade looks equally unimpressive from the outside. On first glance it appears noncommittally white, modern and understated, but on second, with its safety glass frontage like square paper from a school maths book, it could be a double glazing showroom.
Inside, however, its a different world, but still unfortunately in Ealing - it doesnt teleport even if you close your eyes and wish really, really hard. A huge room extends within like a gallery space, broken up by little pools of natural overhead light. Two letterbox shaped fireplaces are cut into the expansive white walls on which are hung a well chosen selection of good paintings and drawings, including a couple of Frinks and series of vibrant Bruce McCleans.
It is owned by the same people who have The Phoenix in Putney, and Sonnys in Barnes and in Nottingham. All have a good local reputation, serving up thoughtful modern British food for the starved suburbs. Parade is also modestly priced if you stick to the set lunch at £15 for three courses. The set Sunday lunch featuring, for example, asparagus, poached egg and hollandaise; an enormous helping of roast beef piled a la mode inside a jumbo Yorkshire pudding; and hot chocolate pudding (which appeared more like a wedge of rich chocolate cake) and praline parfait costs £18.50.
I went for an impromptu meeting of the bitches club - though possibly not one of our most successful since we were joined by one husband, one mother and five children. This meant best behaviour all round; no swearing, no lewd sex talk, and absolutely no moaning. All our potential subjects were sitting around the table. So we admired each others hair and shoes, (really horrible bitches save the Munch scream for going home in the car later), I admired the baby, we all admired the husband, and then turned our more sincere attention to the a la carte.
The menu is not overlarge, unlike the famiglia Botero who were sitting opposite us whispering this is your future. From the starters, all costing around a fiver - we had a decorative ham and parsley terrine with a tart, pretty pink beetroot remoulade and a soft boiled egg and a chicken and foie gras boudin blanc looking, bizarrely, not unlike a chocolate eclair and smoothly flavoured in a gentle, shy child on best behaviour sort of way - though God knows, I have little experience of that. Served on a bed of leeks, it wasnt more than a picnic short of a sandwich away from the boudin blanc I ate recently at The Charles Napier, though here the addition of beans made it a little too blandly white. The seared scallops set on a disk of gutsy black pudding, however, was fantastic - Black Velvet without the belch - always a rare pleasure.
From the main courses, all under £15, came another fashionable marriage of delicate ingredients enlivened by a bit of rough - Gilthead bream with waxy red slivers of chorizo and a creamy wedge of polenta. Other dishes worth a mention were grilled tuna with guacamole, salsa rossa and guacamole and the Sun headline of Goats Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast, parma ham, ratatouille and potato gallette which maybe had too much happening on the plate. Sometimes dishes could benefit with a little editing in the kitchen, like an overdressed women, they should take something off. Though underwear, in the womans case, normally shouldnt be thing to (Well, unless it is for the Sun.)
Dessert offered pear charlotte with coffee ice cream and a fresh, healthy sounding chilled honeydew and charantais melon soup with mandarin and ginger sorbet. Sadly, I chose apple crumble which was more like the charlotte gone wrong - with a crispy, cobbler type crust, broken up into large crumbly chunks. I chewed warily with my newly-recovered-from-stitches mouth, feeling like Martin Amis, and wondering why I dont have a string of bestsellers to match the dentistry. I had pudding envy looking at my friends lovely, soft profiteroles with banana cream and hot chocolate sauce, though since she keeps asking where I got my leather coat and wants to buy one the same, I guess envy is catching. How catching, I dont know, but if you see two women in identical black leathers and Raybans, looking like the Blues Brothers, youll know its highly contagious.