French restaurant Le P’tit Normand
185 Merton Road, Southfields
London SW18 5EF
Le P’tit Normand is a French restaurant located in Southfields. It is an expected location for such a traditional French restaurant as it is next to a take away and in front of a pub and a bus stop. Inside, you enter in another world, cut from the outside. This was our second visit following a good experience the first time.
We ordered one 3 course set menu at £19.50 including a crême brûlée au foie gras et poire (pear), a poussin and a cheeseboard. A la carte we had a Artichaut farci au Crabe et Gratinée à la Chapelure, sauce au Noilly Prat (bread crumb glazed artichoke heart, stuffed with white crab meat, dry vermouth sauce – £6.50) followed by a Confit de Canard au Jus de Porto et Figues, Pommes Sarladaises (Cured duck leg, port and fig sauce, Salardaise potatoes – £14.65) and a Tarte au citron et agrumes ( lemon tart with mandarin slices on top – £5.50). As drink we had a carafe 1/2 litre of house red wine (£8.10) and a bottle of Badoit (£3).
Carafe of red wine & sparkling water Badoit
Artichaut farci au Crabe
Crème brûlée au foie gras et poires
The crème brûlée au foie gras and pears was delicious. Of course you must be into foie gras for choosing that kind of meal! It was very smooth and the taste of foie gras was not overhelming, thanks to the pear that provided a good balance. The artichaut farci au crabe et gratinée à la chapelure, sauce au Noilly Prat was also quite tasty, but became just a bit overpowering for my taste as I worked my way through that dish. It could have used some sort of accompaniment to provide a contrast to the flavour.
The two main courses
Confit de canard
Poussin with endives & garlic
The main courses were good too. The confit de canard was very nicely done, with a rich and slightly sweet sauce. We weren’t quite so thrilled by the Pommes Sarladaises though (which accompanied both mains), which might have been improved had they been crispy. The poussin was perfectly cooked with a crispy skin. The bitterness of the endive was going well with the slightly sweet sauce.
The cheese board
Cheese & bread
Lemon tart with slices of mandarin
The cheese board was good, with a large choice of unpasteurised cheese. I think only two were pasteurised. The bread accompaning the cheeses was excellent and with the red wine it was a wonderful way to end the dinner. The lemon tart had a nicely piquant flavour, not too sweet, and nicely set off with the mandarin.
Cost and conclusion: it was £64.45 including the discretionary 12.5% service charge that goes to the restaurant staff. While the service were efficient and friendly, I am opposed to the service charge automatically added to the bill. It should left fully at the discretion of the client. The result in this case is the same, but it is for the principle I am writing this Great food, great service at a reasonable price and all in a pleasant surrounding. What to ask more?
You can read the previous review with more details and photos about le P’tit Normand at http://www.trusted-gourmet.com/2009/07/french-restaurant-le-ptit-normand-185-merton-road-southfields-wandsworth-london-sw18-5ef/
Japanese restaurant Akasiro
8 Little Newport Street
London WC2H 7JJ
I reviewed Akasiro 6 times but it has been two months since the last review so how are they doing now? As usual it was just time for a quick lunch. We took Katsudon (pork cutlet with egg sauce topped on rice, served with miso soup – £6.50) and Yaki Udon (£5.90). As drinks, we had an Asahi beer (£2.90) and a green tea (£1.50).
The Yaki Udon is a meal made of fried thick udon noodles with seafood. It was very tasty. Nice crispy bean sprouts, good range of seafood (mussels, shrimps, calamari…).
The katsudon was also very good – surprisingly tasty and even quite crispy, which is quite a feat considering that the tonkatsu strips are cooked in an egg sauce atop rice.
Cost and conclusion: as usual, a good meal at reasonable price from Akasiro. Their lunchtime prices really are good value. It was £16.80, not including tip. For reading the previous reviews, please visit the list of restaurants in alphabetical order page. It only lists London based restaurants.
Pakistani restaurant Lahore Karahi
1 Tooting High Street
London SW17 0SN
We have not been to this restaurant for a couple of years, mainly due to the very poor service (especially to women) that we had experienced in the past. That was quite a while ago now though, and we decided to give it another try. I’m very happy to report that things were much improved, with smiling waiters who even showed some humour.
It is quite a large space inside the restaurant, with an upstairs area available for functions. When you enter, the grills and tandoors are to your right. This is noticable after you leave also, as our clothes always smell very strongly of curry. Better ventilation would not go astray, but at the same time, it is only after you leave that you notice it – the atmosphere inside is not choking.
As starters we took a shish kebab, and the kebab roll – just to find out what that was. It turned out to be a shish kebab in naan bread, with a little salad and onions. And as mains, we took one of their specialities, chicken tikka masala karachi – which is a very creamy and mildly spiced chicken tikka masala – and a chicken korma. To this we added two naan bread, and to drink two sweet lassi.
The shish kebabs (both types) were very good – nicely cooked and lightly spicy. These starters are inexpensive, and we didn’t realise they would be quite so big. Another time, we would just take one and share it.
The two curries
Curries and naan bread
Mix of tikka masala karachi & chicken korma curries
The chicken tikka masala karachi was supremely creamy – if you like smooth creamy curries with some depth of flavour, this is nirvana. It is a naturally mildly spicy dish, but they will spice it up for you if you ask. The chicken korma was also very good, and also very creamy (and actually, taking both of them was overkill), but between the two the tikka masala wins hands down. Really an excellent curry.
The lassi were good – not too sweet, tangy, and nicely chilled. I finished the meal with some mango kulfi, which had a rich and slightly caramelised flavour.
Cost and conclusion: for about £20 for two, the value for money is excellent. They managed to improve greatly their service so I would recommend this place if you are in the area. I still prefer overall the Al Mirage curry house two minutes walk away because the service is still better. They do suggest dishes to you, and are happy to provide any description or explanation you need, for example. Both are much better than the Mirch Masala nearby.
French restaurant Bellevue Rendez-vous
218 Trinity Road, Wandsworth Common
London SW17 7HP
Bellevue Rendez-vous is a great local restaurant for those living around Wandsworth Common. It is owned by a couple who really work hard to provide an excellent friendly service. I have not reviewed every time I went there (over 10 times easily) but it has always been a nice relaxing dining experience. This time Pablo the chef was ill but his replacement managed to still provide a good dinner. For more reviews about this place, please take a look at the page of restaurants listed by alphabetical order.
We ordered a 3 course set menu at £19 for one, and the rest was à la carte. As starters we had a quiche and a foie gras (£8). As main course we had a boeuf bourguignon and a bavette (£13). For desserts we had a gâteau de Pablo and a fondant au chocolat (£6.50). We also had a 1/2 litre of sparkling water Badoit (£2) and a glass of house red wine (£4.50).
The two starters
Foie gras et chutney
The foie gras was a quite big piece! It was very good, smooth and tasty. With the sliced baguette, it was a great starter. The bread here has always been fresh and light. The quiche, sadly, was a bit overdone. A shame, since it had a nice light pastry and tasty filling – but even if still quite edible, was not up to the usual standard here.
The main courses
Boeuf bourguignon et gratin dauphinois
Bavette aux échalottes et pommes de terre sautées
The main courses were good. The bavette (flank of beef) was perfectly cooked, a little burnt and crispy on the outside and red without being bloody inside. The shallots on top were a good balance to the meat. The potatoes could have been better cooked, but then the chef Pablo was exceptionally not there as explained above. Normally they are very hot and lightly crispy. This time they were mildly hot. The boeuf bourguignon was also very good. It is a simple dish, full of strong rich flavours – definite comfort food. It was served with rich creamy potatoes gratin dauphinois, which were a perfect accompaniment.
Gâteau de Pablo
Fondant au chocolat
The desserts were good, especially the fondant au chocolat. When you break the shell you have a nice hot melting chocolate that matches well with the vanilla ice cream. If you are into chocolate, this dessert is highly recommended! The gâteau de Pablo was light and a perfect way to end the diner. The presentation was a little less good than usual for the reason mentioned earlier.
Cost and conclusion: it was £53. At the bottom of the menu it is written a 12.5% service charge is added to rude people. We managed to escape it by being friendly enough So there is no “discretionary” service charge included in the bill as many restaurants rudely do. We really like that and restaurants like Bellevue Rendez-vous should be supported for following that policy. Highly recommended!
145 Wandsworth High Street
London SW18 4JB
Inside the Bugatti pizzeria
Bugatti Pizzeria is located on Wandsworth High Street, not far from the Town Hall and the commercial centre.
The frontside of the restaurant is not wide but actually it is a quite large restaurant with good space between the tables. It feels quite airy, an impression reinforced by the view of the stairs going upstairs.
We took a pizza Regina B (made of mozzarella, ham, mushrooms and olives – £5) and a pizza calzone piccante (folded pizza with pepperoni, cheese and chilli pepper – £5). As drinks we had a bottle of an Italian sparkling water (£1.50) and a Moretti beer (£3) served cold, as it should be.
The two pizzas
The pizza Regina was a bit disappointing. The main problem with it was that the toppings were, or certainly tasted as though they were, of very low supermarket quality. I’d make that complaint particularly about the ham, which I’m pretty sure was the reconstituted wafer thin variety – and in any case, had very little flavour. The pizza base was also quite tasteless, which left everything up to the mozarella and mushrooms. The texture and crispness of the base was fine, but overall a disappointingly bland experience. Of course, we’re not in the (low) class of pizza hut or anything like that! But I can’t rate Bugatti’s pizza Regina anywhere above average either.
Pizza calzone piccante
The pizza Calzone piccante was decent. The base was not crispy but it was still alright. I do appreciate the tomato sauce was put on the side of the pizza and not directly on it as it happens sometimes, making the pizza soggy. The toppings were some chilli pepper, cheese and some pepperoni that looked fried like fried bacon. The spicy oil was nicely spicy.
Cost and conclusion: it was £14.50 (service charge not included and not automatically added to the bill – we like that) for the two pizzas and the drinks. Hard to beat that price which is £5 for a pizza or pasta (excluding seafood) between 12 to 5 pm. Outside this time frame they are more around £7-8. Still, quite an amazingly low price for London. Only Franco Manca is in the same price range with better pizzas (although our second visit there was not a great experience) but a less “fancy” decor. In neither case would I do the trip just for their pizzas but they can be recommended when around the area. Bugatti Pizzeria also does take away.