Café du Village
11 Bellevue Road, Wandsworth Common
London SW17 7EG
Café du Village (was The Brasserie)
Inside, it is quite spacious.
Café du Village (formerly The Brasserie) is a restaurant wonderfully located right in front of Wandsworth Common. It pretends to “offer great value cuisine with just a hint of French influence”. With the restaurants Chez Bruce next door and Bellevue Rendez-vous a minute walk away we certainly see more “French influence” in this area (not to mention the Café & patisserie l’Amandine there too). Actually the only true French restaurant is Bellevue Rendez-vous where the owners and staff are French. I think the staff at Café du Village were from Poland.
It is possible to eat outside but we prefered to go inside. It is spacious and smartly decorated although a little impersonal.
As starters we had the Moules Marinieres (Mussels with shallots in white wine with a dash of cream, served with a half baguette – £5.75) and a Garlic & mixed herb bread (£2.95).
As main courses we had a Poulet à l’Estragon (Pot-roasted chicken supreme with mushrooms, onion & bacon in a red wine & tarragon sauce – £10.95) and a Char-grilled Sirloin (21 day aged sirloin with French fries, new potatoes or mash – £16.95) with a Béarnaise sauce (£0.75). As drinks we had a small bottle of sparkling water (£2) and a large glass of an Argentinian 2007 Tarquino Malbec red wine (£7.75).
Other interesting main courses were the Salmon Fishcake (Oven baked fishcake with buttered spinach and a lemon & chive cream sauce – £9.50), the Calves Liver and Bacon (Pan-fried Dutch calves liver and bacon served with creamed potatoes and a red wine & port sauce – £12.95) or the Seafood Linguini (Pan-fried king prawns, squid, clams, mussels, garlic and chilli with an extra virgin olive oil & white wine sauce – £11.95).
The two starters
The garlic bread to start was a little miserable. It was three slices of grilled baguette smothered in butter. There was very little garlic taste though, and overall it was just a little too greasy and overcooked.
The mussels were good but a little on the small side. Also, one or two were closed. It was a very rich meal with plenty calories because it was so creamy that the sauce was thick. I am into butter and cream so it was perfect for me but some people might find it overpowering.
The two main courses
Poulet à l’estragon
The chicken with the taragon sauce was excellent! It was perfectly cooked with a crispy skin. The sauce with red wine and taragon was great. The bacon was good too, not too strong as can happen sometimes. I was quite pleased with this meal and the wine was very nice too.
The chargrilled sirloin was actually quite good – and better than its appearance in the photos might suggest. I had ordered this done ‘medium’ – which in the UK tends to mean overcooked. So it was on this occasion, which is just another reminder to me to ask for my meat rare when I want medium, or else I’ll get well done. Nonetheless, the meat was tender and with a nice flavour. The bearnaise sauce was also very good, and not greasy as can sometimes be the case. The mashed potato was excellent. Very nice and creamy, the right amount of butter, and beautifully textured. They were just the accompaniment, but they really made the dish.
Cost and conclusion: it was £53 including the “discretionary gratuity of 12.5%”. I am against this automatic gratuity added to the bill in many places in London, it should be left to the discretion of the client. That said, the service was friendly but very slow. It took a long time to get our starters. After, things went a bit better. The value for money is not bad, the food is decent and the location is fantastic. It is a good place for a pause after walking at the park, especially since they do snacks like croque monsieur, salads, breakfast, fish & chips etc. If you prefer to eat more authentic French dishes (boeuf bourguignon, confit de canard etc), Bellevue Rendez-vous is the place to go!
32 Thurloe Street, South Kensington
London SW7 2LT
Little Japan is a tiny restaurant located in South Kensington, close to the tube station. Actually we had intended to go to la Bouchée which we have already eaten at but it was before the blog. On our way we thought it was a bit of a waste to eat French cuisine in London since we are going to go to the French riviera on vacation soon. It was a bad decision as we found out the hard way.
The restaurant is quite small, with two levels and a counter in the background. The waiter comes to take orders and to serve you but you have to go to the counter to pay.
We ordered some sushi – salmon rolls (8 pieces – £3.50), the tonkatsu bento (described as “deep fried breaded pork marinated in tonkatsu, rice and salad” – £4.90), the Torikara Bento (described as “garlic chicken in teriyaki sauce with rice and salad – £4.90), some deep fried vegetables, a orange juice and a 7up.
Tonkatsu or cordon bleu ?
The “tonkatsu” was nothing short of astonishing. For a start, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t pork. It was, in fact, a sliced piece of chicken cordon bleu with a dash of tonkatsu sauce. I can’t say it was nasty exactly (though it was overcooked and rather dry) but it certainly wasn’t tonkatsu or even a close approximation. I mean, since when do you have a slice of ham in tonkatsu? LOL The rice was some form of long grain, so also rather dry and difficult to eat as it didn’t stick together (we stuck to chopsticks because, although a couple of forks had been provided, they weren’t too clean…). The rest of the bento box wasn’t worth eating. The salad, drowned in a pasty-white mayonnaise, was some wilted bits of lettuce and tomato whilst the seaweed was seriously nasty to the point I started to worry if I would get sick.
The deep fried vegetables were exactly as described. Seeing as it was supposed to be a Japanese restaurant, I had, of course, visions of tempura vegetables when I ordered this dish. What I got was chunks of a variety of vegetables, encased in a very peppery batter, and that had been deepfried. Not that bad in small doses, but they had a taste of very well used cooking oil (so the small doses was as much a health issue as anything else).
Close-up of the garlic chicken...
The garlic chicken in teriyaki sauce was weird too. I couldn’t really taste the teriyaki nor the garlic and it was salty and spongious. In fact, the “garlic” was identifiably garlic salt – if you can imagine that added to chicken in a teriyaki sauce, you start to get an idea of my horror…
The salmon rolls were bad with a funny sour taste while the wasabi was probably old because it wasn’t very hot anymore. The salmon bits were tiny. You get a lot better salmon rolls at the take away section of Japan Centre, near Picadilly Circus or at just about any place selling sushi.
Cost and conclusion: it was £20.30. It was bad, one of my worst lunches in London. Even thinking about it makes me shiver.
This place has nothing Japanese, the name is very misleading. On the upside, the service was friendly and we did not get sick which is already something (or at least, so far we are not sick). We must be pretty tough! Or maybe just lucky… For more information about Little Japan, just google the name.
The White Cross
Richmond TW9 1TH
The White Cross
Superb view over the river
The White Cross is an old pub located right on the river in Richmond, not far from the bridge. In summer people take advantage of the waterfront so it is full of families with kids. It is so close to the river that sometimes the tide prevents you from getting out. Well, it is not a bad place to get stuck, especially if you are upstairs on the tiny balcony where you have a great view over the river as you can see in the pictures.
The pub got its name because it is built on the site of a monastery (Friars Observant of Richmond, before the order got suppressed).
A table with a view
We ordered the chicken liver & Brandy paté with plum & apple chutney & crusty bread (£5.95), the Cumberland sausages with mash & caramelised onion gravy (£7.95), the French bread baguette with honey roast ham & wholegrain mustard (£5.25) and the sultana scones with clotted cream, strawberry jam & clotted cream (£3.50). Other interesting options were whole baked camembert with fruit chutney & bread to dip (£8.95), the cheese board Denhay mature cheddar & Cropwell Bishop stilton with fruit chutney & crusty bread (£7.45) and homemade cottage pie served with mixed leaves & crusty bread (£8.95). Of course, being a pub you have many other sandwiches, wraps (for example the Warm Cajun Chicken & sour cream – £5.75) and baked jacket potatoes with cheddar & bacon (£6.25) or even with beef chilli con carne (£6.25). As drinks, we ordered a pint of kronenbourg and a lemonade.
Chicken liver & Brandy paté
The chicken liver and Brandy paté was good. Not the best I’ve ever had, but not bad either, although it really needed the plum and apple chutney to accompany it. The crusty bread was excellent and more of it would have been welcome because of the big portion of paté.
French bread baguette with honey roast ham & wholegrain mustard
The ham and mustard baguette was a mixed experience. On the one hand, the filling was a good thick slab of ham with wonderful texture and flavour, accompanied with just the right amound of fairly mild mustard. On the other hand, the baguette itself was an abomination. No nice fresh crispy outer and gently chewy inside here. No, sadly this baguette was a limp and flacid thing that shouldn’t have been allowed outside the kitchen it was baked in – I still shudder to think of it. I’d consider taking a sandwich here again, but I will never again make the mistake of ordering it on their so-called baguette. If you’re tempted to try it, I strongly recomend playing safe and taking the farmhouse “doorstep” sandwich instead (which is, presumably, the same sort of nice crusty sliced bread that accompanied the paté).
The Cumberland sausages were all right. Again, not fantastic but nothing to complain about too. The mash was HUGE! I usually have a great appetite but I couldn’t eat all of it. It was enough for 3 people!
The strawberry jam
The scones were pretty good, nice and fresh and not at all crumbly. They were served with fresh clotted cream and strawberry jam – a nice end to the meal.
Cost and conclusion: it was about £25. You do not really go to the White Cross for its food but rather for the nice setting and the view of the Thames. With a pint of beer it is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon there. Richmond is such a nice town with a village feeling while being only 20 minutes away from Waterloo train station. Highly recommended if you are around!
The Rose and Crown
79 Kew Green
Kew TW9 3AH
Well located pub! It is next to Kew Gardens.
This Rose and Crown has a great location next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, commonly named Kew Gardens. It is a wonderful place for taking photos of flowers of course but also insects as you can see below. Back to our pub! It is a nice looking pub with a rustic appearance inside, with many separate and cosy areas to sit and low ceilings. It has a nice front garden overlooking Kew Green but we went out to the back garden which was more pleasant cut from the traffic noise.
The tables in the back garden (not the photo above, which is of the path taking you to the rear garden) are quite large and the seats, in wood too, are incredibly heavy. You do not lift them easily with one hand.
We ordered a seared teriyaki surf & turf (grilled teriyaki sirloin and battered coriander prawns, finished with chips and teriyaki dip – £11.25) and a classic fish pie (topped with cheesy mash and served with vegetables – £8.25). Other meals that looked interesting were the Moroccan spiced lamb burger (served in a light flatbread with peppernatta, sweet potato wedges and a cucumber mint dip – £9.45), the free range extra thick pork chop with cider and Calvados sauce (with mash and vegetables – £10.25) and the pork escalope (marinated in its own sauce, served with stir fried fresh vegetables and noodles and completed with a sweet chilli dipping sauce – £10.95). We ordered a pint of Leffe beer (great beer) and a pint of lemonade with lots of ice.
Classic fish pie
The fish pie was very good. Nice creamy potato topped with plenty of cheese. Inside the main fish was salmon, but there was also plenty of smoked haddock and shrimps to keep things interesting. Good pub food at a reasonable price here.
Seared teriyaki surf & turf
I chose the seared teriyaki surf & turf because lately I cook quite a lot of meat marinated in teriyaki sauce on BBQs so I wanted to see how I was doing compared to the pub. The grilled teriyaki sirloin was not bad but a little dry and the teriyaki taste was very light. I cook better 😉 The battered coriander prawns were very good and the chips were excellent: tasty, and crispy outside without being dry inside.
Cost and conclusion: it was about £26, without the optional 12.5% service charge of course. Nice pub food, pleasant surrounding, and it was sunny! A good stop before visiting the gardens!
Some photos taken at Kew Gardens:
Taken from the botanical glasshouses with a Nikon D700 and a 14-24f2.8 through the glass.
Taken with a Nikon D700 with a 70-200f2.8
A bee at work. Nikon D700 with a 70-200f2.8
Japanese Tokiya Sushi Bar
74 Battersea Rise
London SW11 1EH
Tokiya Sushi Bar
We have already reviewed this authentic Japanese restaurant almost two months ago and found it quite good. This time we ordered Agedashi Tofu (Deep fried Tofu with Tempura Sauce – £3.80), Makazushi 5 pieces each of Deep fried Chicken Roll (£6.50) and Grilled Salmon skin with spring onion Inside out Roll (£4.00), the Nabeyaki Udon (White Udon noodle with Deep fried Tempura in pot – £12.00) and a Prawn Tempura (Deep fried Prawn & Vegetable Tempura – £9.50). As drinks we had a cold green tea and a calpico. The cold green tea (in a can) was excellent and refreshing, the calpico which is a milky sweet drink, was good. It is a drink for kids normally but as I lived in Japan for 4 years as a child I wanted to get that drink again. In Japan, I knew it as calpis. This was the same though, so I guess either rebranded for marketing reasons, or a rival brand.
First to arrive was the agedashi tofu appetizer. It was nice and hot and well garnished with nori seaweed and green onions. One of my favourite light starters, Tokiya does this dish very nicely.
Makazushi 5 pieces of deep fried chicken roll
Close-up. Fresh hot wasabi at the left.
Grilled salmon skin with spring onion inside out roll
The makazushi was also very good. We had ordered two types, both of which were inside out rolls. The first to arrive was deep fried chicken, which was nice and crispy and very tasty. A little later came the grilled salmon with skin rolls, which were quite nice as the skin was crispy.
Prawn Tempura (deep fried prawn & vegetable tempura)
The tempura was great: perfecly cooked, not too much batter so no greasy feeling, and the amount of tempura sauce was very generous. Often I find the sauce to be insufficient but at Tokiya it is more sauce than needed! The rice was good too.
Tokiya’s nabeyaki udon was a work of art. Many other Japanese restaurants do a cut down version of this dish, which basically means some tempura atop your udon noodle soup. At Tokiya, you get the full works – there is a bit of everything in this soup bowl. I recall egg, crab, bok choy as well as the usual tempura shrimp and vegetables. Really a meal in a bowl, and a mighty fine meal at that. Definitely a dish I will order here again.
Cost and conclusion: it was £40.30 and no “optional” service charge automatically added to the bill. We appreciate it. The food was great, nice atmosphere and service too! Highly recommended!