Following an extensive refurbishment, The Crossing is the latest opening on Barnes’ bustling White Hart Lane.
Formerly The Treehouse, this new, independently owned venue describes itself as a ‘true neighbourhood pub’, but having heard that its owner, Christian Arden, has recently brought chef Anthony Demetre (of Michelin-starred Wild Honey St James and Italian hotspot, Vermuteria) on board to work on The Crossing’s food menu (alongside head chef Alessandro Carulli), I sensed that it might be more than just your average local.
It was more than half full on the night we visited and very lively – not bad for Tuesday evening in Barnes. Within minutes, I heard the pop of a bottle, and two glasses (very nice glasses, I might add) of Champagne promptly arrived at our table. And no, this kind of special treatment is not reserved for restaurant critics alone; warm and welcoming Christian is well known (and loved) for his hospitality and seems to genuinely enjoy spoiling his regulars.
The look and feel
Interiors-wise, The Crossing feels like a stylish neighbourhood restaurant; it’s a bright, fresh and elegant space that lends itself well to the summer. Fresh flowers adorn light wooden tables, and sunlight streams through the big windows; there’s a pleasing mix of exposed brick and pops of teal velvet and a large stainless-steel bar with glowing glass lampshades above. It feels understated, stylish and laid back.
Upstairs, there’s a large but cosy feeling dining room, and outside, a vast suntrap of a terrace with an impressive outdoor kitchen complete with a bespoke rotisserie grill.
The seasonal menu, as suspected, is impressively sophisticated – there’s plenty of choice, a distinct Mediterranean influence and a few local nods; the sourdough bread comes from Brentford’s brilliant Rye by the Water, and charcuterie is freshly sliced on the bar.
Something of a signature dish are The Crossing’s croquettas, filled with a deliciously rich cauliflower cheese sauce and covered in plenty of parmesan. Perfectly light and crisp but simultaneously creamy and oh so indulgent, they are the stuff that bar snack dreams are made of; each refined mouthful already showing off the skill in the kitchen. Similarly, the generous portion of fresh taramasalata was beautiful both in terms of taste and texture.
The sunshine flavours continued with a vibrant Andalusian gazpacho, thickened perfectly until almost creamy. It was just as it should be; refreshing, packed with flavour and deeply satisfying. I also loved the salad of artichoke, borlotti beans, celery and olives; reminiscent of a simple yet surprisingly delicious dish that one might be lucky enough to get in a traditional trattoria, each individual ingredient was the very best it could be.
I then had the biggest mackerel I think possibly ever (line) caught (see image above); simply, perfectly grilled and served with sweet mango salsa, an ideal match for the meaty charcoaled flavours of the fish.
The rotisserie young chicken marinated in preserved lemon was also a big hit, although I would have liked a little more with the mains – a few leaves perhaps, or some kind of potato, but sides are to be ordered separately. I resisted the triple-cooked chips and the Lyonnaise potatoes; instead, the summer lettuce and spring onion salad with mustard vinaigrette were perfect. Other mains include The Crossing Burger, a vegan aubergine parmigiana, French Merguez sausages and more – the menu adeptly covering both pub and bistro bases.
I had to try the tiramisu – head chef Alex’s grandmother’s recipe. It was subtle, perfectly balanced, and absolutely delicious. The cold chocolate fondant with pistachio gelato was also divine; incredibly rich, silky and dense, with a delightfully crisp base.
The wine list is a real treat – the work of Corney & Barrow. There are plenty of choices to please all, including proper buffs, and many of the wines offer great value for money. We had a delicious bottle of Pouilly-Fume, and I also tried a very good Muscadet which at £8 a glass is a steal. You can also order by the carafe, which I love, but if wine isn’t your thing then fear not – well-kept craft beer and cask ales are also on offer, as well as a few classic cocktails.
The final word
Service was friendly, efficient, and thoughtful throughout – water was replenished without having to ask, more wine was positively encouraged (I love it when they do that) and we felt incredibly relaxed, so much so that I think we might have been the last to leave…
I had concerns that The Crossing might feel confused; is it a welcoming, well-run, independent pub, or a sophisticated neighbourhood restaurant? My conclusion is that it’s both, and that’s a unique and wonderful thing. Generally, I tend to have pubs that are exclusively for drinking or eating, rarely both, but The Crossing very competently ticks all boxes, and so it is a place that I look forward to returning to again and again. And again.