8 Times a Week is the Performance menu in The Bay Tree, Hollywood

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8 performances a week. That's the theatrical timetable for the culinary hoofers in Holywood's The Bay Tree. They revise the old Broadway maxim, however, giving seven daytime performances, and a nightly production on Fridays evenings.And like any theatrical endeavour, The Bay Tree is a machine: sleek; slick; polished; professional; designed to please.
The Tuesday matinee when we showed up was business as usual: a packed house, calm staff who know their stuff backwards, and delicious cooking. WIlliam Farmer and his team know what they are good at and the menus are a roll-call of the good and the great: leek and cheddar flan; smoked fish chowder with their house wheaten bread; salad of Puy lentils with goats cheese and walnuts; lamb tagine with apricots and preserved lemons; the monthly brunch special; pear, apple and black currant crumble.
There are Norn Iron craft gins and craft beers and craft juices, and the room is lean and crowded – shortly after 1pm there has to be 100 people eating here. If they had all ordered the excellent corn pancakes filled with leek and parsnip, which comes with a roasted pepper and tomato salsa, then you would have had a room with 100 happy people, because the dish is a simple delight, a funky riff on a stuffed crepe that they execute brilliantly.
But they would have been equally happy with the pork casserole with apple and rosemary, or the mushroom and sweet potato frittata. The Bay Tree isn't the only place that has the tag line "Serving the food we love to eat." But there is no doubt that it's especially true of this Hollywood institution: this is domestic cooking executed by professionals, and it's that professional polish and finish that makes the BT special.