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London Round Up: The French

THE RITZ

The Ritz Hotel on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

The Ritz Restaurant is one of those *institution* places that are full of codes of conduct – ties, shirts, jackets, shoes, no trainers, no jeans, no sportswear – and the only thing I could do to rebel is, perhaps, to go commando. Not a thing I would personally advise if you are turned on by blings in the likes of ornate chandeliers, gilded statues and prolific tapestries. The room was justifiably handsome and makes a great and relaxingly bright retreat in summer. The front of house in a neatly pressed tail-jacket glided through the elegantly clothed tables and provided a formal, albeit patronising service. The menu – French in nature, but (mostly) British in produce -reflects such grandeur. The price, however, was sensible, from £35 for lunch and £50 for dinner. During my visit, the execution was visual oriented but not awfully precise. My pressed foie gras with girolles, walnuts and prunes exhibited the kitchen’s reliable skills, but a few other dishes – celeriac, for example – were over-salted.

 

 

BISTROT BRUNO LOUBET

Bistrot Bruno Loubet on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3.5/5

In a stark contrast to the glam of the Ritz is Bistrot Bruno Loubet at the Zetter Hotel, Clerkenwell. This is a handsomely casual venue, though populated by quite a smart and suited crowd, with a focus on French classics and comforts with modern touches. The menu is reasonably priced – £7.5-9 for starters; £16-22.5 for mains; £6-7 for desserts – and the portion is generously sized. I found the cooking not rigid and also not the most precise, but it was this carefree spirit that made the place quite lovable. My bouillabaisse was vibrant, large and hearty. The seafood was carefully simmered and the fennel stewed to delicious tenderness. The touch of saffron was a little too heavy, though.

 

GREEN MAN & FRENCH HORN

Green Man & French Horn on Urbanspoon

RATING: 4/5

The Terroir Group keeps expanding and the fourth in its family is an ex-pub Green Man & French Horn. The produce-led French menu changes regularly and is prepared with a focus on big comfort and no pretense. The pricing is kind -£5-12 for starters, £12-24 for mains, around £7 for desserts. There is also an extensive (natural) wine menu from the Loire Valley. The ambiance was heaving at night and the waitresses cheerful. Pork Terrine was packed with flavours and outstanding for its meaty coarseness. I also loved Mackerel, Cucumber and Tarragon. The raw mackerel was very fresh; the cucumber crunchy and refreshing; and the olive oil and tarragon dressing provided somewhat aromatic peppery-ness to the dish. Grilled Langoustines with Lemon were freshly sweet. Boeuf Bourguignon was tender, oozing the perfume of red wine and meaty dimensions. Quite possibly the best restaurant in Covent Garden for me.

 

BRASSERIE ZEDEL

Brasserie Zedel on Urbanspoon

RATING: 3/5

Brasserie Zedel by the operation behind the successful and more expensive Wolseley and Delaunay is a grand restaurant that caters with a price range not much above your high-street average. Say, an approximate cost for a starter is £7 and for a main £14-15. The menu is strictly French and very classical. The location in the heart of Piccadilly Circus also makes it an easy access. Escargots au Beurre Persille (£8.25) were quite oily but meaty Cuisses de Grenouille (£7.75) were finely cooked and accompanied with a rich jus. Onglet Grille, Confit d’Echalote (£10.95) fared better than I would expect for a £10 steak. And if you can’t read French, the English menu is available upon request.

 

GAUTHIER SOHO

Bistrot Bruno Loubet on Urbanspoon

RATING 4/5

Gauthier Soho is a lovable house restaurant not only full of Napoleonic busts but also of carefully selected wines. The service is immaculate but friendly. The price point – £40 for a 3-course, £50 for a 4-course, and £60 for a 5-course – is kind. The cooking has its root in Ducasse-ian Mediterranean French but with Gauthier’s own inventive vegecentric flairs.

The classic-sounding dishes are always the highlights. Truffle Risotto with Veal Jus has been in Gauthier’s repertory for more than a decade and never fails to disappoint. During my most recent visit, the al dente rice was substituted by the healthy, grainy millet, which created a revitalising sensation on the tongue and allowed the rich, explosive truffle with jus to linger much longer. Australian Wagyu with Bone Marrow and Vegetables was both simple and extraordinary. The aged wagyu was cooked for a stunning crosti-bleu effect. This allowed the seared crust to release an appetising aroma and the barely cooked beef a depth of moreish robustness. The root vegetables, braised in beef jus, contributed a varying degrees of texture, sweetness and bitterness.

 

 



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Green Man & French Horn

54 St Martins Lane
London
WC2N 4EA

Tel. 020 7836 2645

www.greenmanfrenchhorn.co

Brasserie Zedel

20 Sherwood Street
London
W1F 7ED

Tel. 020 7734 4888

www.brasseriezedel.com

Gauthier Soho

21 Romilly Street
London
W1D 5AF

Tel. 020 7494 3111

www.gauthiersoho.co.uk

Bistrot Bruno Loubet

St John’s Square
86-88 Clerkenwell Road
London
EC1M 5RJ

Tel. 020 7324 4455

www.bistrotbrunoloubet.com

THE RITZ

150 Piccadilly
London
W1J 9BR

Tel. 020 7493 8181

www.theritzlondon.com