Monday, 24 October 2011


Penks is a diminutive local restaurant on the main drag of Queens Park. I’ve eaten here a few times, and it’s not a bad neighbourhood option. The menu plays it safe although the wine list is quite interesting, and they seem to offer quizzes, happy hours and other events to engage with the locale, and break the oligopoly of ‘The Salusbury’ enterprises.

The starters are a strong area here; as well as a few predictable dishes, they offer some more sociable charcuterie and cheese plates, which suit their passion for unusual wines. A mention also has to go to their carefully edited US craft ales.

spanish charcuterie plate

Rib-eye and chips is a bit disappointing. The meat isn’t a particularly great cut and the chips are quite standard. They could be oven chips, or ‘steak cut’ chips – it comes with a salad garnish including iceberg lettuce and grated carrots! This is Queens Park – drag yourselves into the Naughties, at bare minimum, with some rocket/bay spinach/lamb’s lettuce and vine tomatoes! It had a touch of Harvester about it.

The guinea fowl was a bit more interesting, in rich sauce and with seasonal vegetables. Penks also seem to succeed at fish dishes; there are several starters and mains and these seem exhibit more culinary smarts and daring.
guinea fowl
Although I love the idea of neighbourhood restaurants, I have a few problems with Penks.

I want to like it, and I think they’re missing a few tricks especially given such a prime spot. Queens Park is a chi chi little enclave, and the menu is conversely, quite parochial. There are no specials, not enough localism or provenance and the décor is quite bland. This contrasts with the bonkers music and hideous art to combine quite a bizarre atmosphere. Service is erratic too – it’s nice that this is family run, but it could still be professional in feel.

creamy fish concoction

If I was to recommend a few things for this place, they'd be to shamelessly imitate somewhere like The Electric: brunch drinks and more contemporary brunch offering, a NY/faux Parisian style menu with a strong typeface, good music, lower lighting, more specials (including some pastas), modernise the interior, and try to encourage people to come for, and stick around for, the drinks. The atmosphere is a bit dated and subdued, and they’re missing quite a significant slice of the urbane, flashy, hungry and very thirsty types who populate these sides.

A neighbourhood restaurant could do one of a few things: focus on excellent food (La Trompette, at the highest end), or an intimate atmosphere (Ripe Tomato perhaps) or it could be cheap and cheerful, like Small & Beautiful nearby in Kilburn. But Penks doesn’t excel in any of these fields particularly, which seems like a wasted opportunity.
Food – 5/10 
Drink – 8/10
Service - 5/10 (the waitress forgot a few things)
Value – 7/10  (£40 a head with wine, reasonable but at the upper end of it)
Tap water tales – 8/10 (cold glasses brought without asking, mineral not proffered)  
Staff Hotness – 5/10
Penk's on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment