All reader reviews by Suzy Brown
I had lunch with friends recently at Chez Bruce. Not realising that Wandsworth Common is quite a long ride from N1 we had to call the restaurant to let them know we were running late. Fortunately this wasn’t a problem, even on a busy Saturday.
Lovely venue, very French bistro look and crisp napkins neatly folded. We got a table in the middle of everything giving us the opportunity to experience the great atmosphere. The service was alert and helpful and so was the sommelier. Food wise we were sorted out quite quickly but wine wise it took us longer to decide as the wine list is excessive and we were looking for wines that would match the different dishes. The sommelier was very good here and we ended up with a chateau neuf du pape blanc and a lovely red burgundy Gevrey Chambertin.
For starter I had mackerel tartare with herbs, smoked mackerel, horseradish, apple & cucumber followed by roast cod, grilled squid, baby artichokes, pepper relish and salsa verde. My co-diners had risotto and crab and scallop tortelloni followed by choucroute of pork with cheek blanquette and sea bass with olive oil mash, provençale brochette and gremolata. All dishes were beautiful represented, portioned correctly for lunch and gave us room for cheese later. I often find it very frustrating when I read reviews and people are complaining about size when they only order a main course with a side dish. The entire idea is to have room for 3 courses without feeling hungry or full.
Back to the Mackerel, which was quite bland I am afraid. You would expect the smoked mackerel to give more flavour to the dish but this didn’t happen. Too much apple to my opinion, which was overpowering the fish and cucumber, and too little horseradish leaving out the kick. My co-diners were “yummying” over their starters and I was lucky to taste both of them. I agree, they were yummy! Main courses were flawless, perfectly plated with the right amount of each ingredient. My fish was beautifully cooked, crunchy on the outside, white and moist on the inside, and with a little transparent section in the middle. Perfect! When that is said, I would expect this at a Michelin starred restaurant. Co-diners were also “yummying” over their main courses.
We skipped dessert and went for the cheeseboard instead. The waitress was very generous with us. I think we all managed to get 8 different cheeses laid up on plates and we truly enjoyed it. Of course we had another bottle of wine, a fortified muscat from Australia, to go with all this, it would have been rude not to ;o) Coffee and petit four completed a great lunch.
The restaurant offers 3 courses for £35 for lunch and £45 for dinner. I find this very reasonably priced. We had a lovely day, lovely food and lovely service in a lovely restaurant. I will definitely come back another time and I will try not to be late. Thank you!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Food 8 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 10
Having eaten at Fig in Barnsbury on a regular basis for a couple of years now – and truly loved it - it was time to check out the Danish chef’s new venue, North Road, in buzzing Clerkenwell. I was gobsmacked! The venue that used to be the dull and uninspiring “The Clerkenwell” has undertaken a top to toe refurbishment. Beautiful, stylish, chic and yet so warmly decorated that you wish the designer would come home with you and start decorating. Due to my regular appearance at Fig I got a friends & family invite with 50% off before the official opening day.
This gave me the opportunity to introduce friends to Nordic inspired food and they were all blown away. We went for the tasting menu and though my friends had weird facial expressions regarding the dessert, which was called “flavours of woodland” and thought that this was a little bit out of order, they all thanked me afterwards for being so persuasive. Smoked scallops, cured lobster and vegetables from Kent so beautiful presented and such a thrill followed by venison rolled in burnt hay?!?! Who would have thought of that? Accompanied with smoked bone marrow and beetroot we were in heaven.
One of my friends said: Did the Vikings really do this? Fighting, plundering and raping and then... hey, let’s go eat some venison rolled in hay. The dessert was really really clever. With ingredients such as birch bark, chestnut and wild herbs you would think that it would be quite savoury. Not at all, it was truly delicious. Just as Fig has an interesting variety of wine, so has North Road, just so much more to choose from. Familiar faces amongst the waiters remembering your name without a split second of doubt. I can only say that I wish the team good luck with the new restaurant. I will certainly do what I can to spread the word. Bravo!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 10