Last week, between raging storms, my dear husband and I treated ourselves to an evening out in Notting Hill to see American Hustle at the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road (if you haven’t been since they remodeled, I urge you to go). It’s one of those fancy cinemas with comfy leather armchairs and footstools and even individual cashmere throws to keep out any damp drafts. However, with a 6pm start time we were stuck with a dilemma (ok, not really, but sort of), where to eat?
Unlike New York, not many places offer continuous all-day dining here in London, especially during the week. Most lunch spots, other than your Pret a Manger or slightly dodgy cafe or pub, close by 3 and dinner isn’t served until 7-ish. Having let the day get away from us, we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and were in search of a proper meal, not a snack, to get us through the movie. Thank goodness for Granger & Co. It has been almost two years since I first went to this bright airy room on Westbourne Park Road, and I don’t often go because there’s typically a line out the door for a table. We were in luck on this Tuesday afternoon and I was ready to take advantage of the lull. P.S. They’re opening another branch of this super-popular restaurant in East London soon….
We’re on a bit of a health kick, new year and all, so my husband’s will-power remained steady and he eschewed the delicious sounding burger for something called a Fragrant Chicken & Mushroom Brown Rice Broth. We were both delighted he did. Out came a deep bowl of the most divine smelling broth, full of delicate mushrooms, kale and shredded chicken. At my husband’s urging I asked our waitress if this particular recipe was included in any of Chef Bill Granger’s many cookbooks. She checked with one of the on-duty chefs and lucky for me, one of them kindly took the time to look through Granger’s Bill’s Everyday Asian and tell me how he’d adapt the Rice Noodle Pho with Rare Beef & Star Anise to make this particular dish (I own the book and would recommend it to anyone who loves to dabble in Asian cuisine).
The movie was fantastic (go Jennifer Lawrence!) and the meal we had at Granger & Co. did in fact give us the sustenance we needed to make it back home late that evening. It also gave me a healthy eating project that I couldn’t wait to begin. A good chicken stock was definitely the starting point, I figured, and we had a bird awaiting just that fate in our fridge. All I had to get was a few mushrooms and we’d be on our way. The more I thought about the flavors though, the more I was convinced that this soup would be delicious with many different proteins (shrimp, scallops, beef) and if I wasn’t feeling virtuous, some noodles too. When I finally made it last night, it was just about as delicious as I remember and I personally think the addition of confit duck legs makes this something I’d serve to company. Add some easy red curry shrimp dumplings to start and a lemon ginger ice for dessert and you’ve got a delicious, decidedly special, dinner.
Fragrant Duck & Mushroom Brown Rice Bowl