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!