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Italian restaurant Carluccio’s Covent Garden, London
Dec 17th, 2009 by Olivier

Carluccio’s
Garrick Street, Covent Garden
London WC2E 9BH

Carluccio’s Covent Garden

I had been to Carluccios once previously. Although that was a couple of years ago, my recollection is that this restaurant did quite good pasta. On this occassion though, it was for an office Christmas lunch, so my expectations weren’t high.

From a limited menu (that we had to pre-select from) I chose a vegetarian platter as starter, Bistecca di Bue con Patate for the main course, and Pasticcio di Cioccolato as dessert.

Great vegetarian platter

Great vegetarian platter

Bistecca di Bue con Patate

Bistecca di Bue con Patate

The starter was really quite good, with very nice fresh foccacio bread and a variety of peppers, olives and mozarella. Unfortunately, the main course wasn’t so good. The steak was a very thin cut and rather fatty, overcooked and very tough. I abandoned it after just a couple of bites. It came with a sort of creamy tomato sauce that would have been better with pasta, but definitely did not improve the steak.

Pasticcio di Cioccolato

Pasticcio di Cioccolato

Dessert was a chocolate bread pudding. It was a welcome relief after the steak, but actually also not very good. It was cold and rather soggy.

Overall, it was a disppointing meal, with only the starter worth eating. Christmas set menus for office parties are notoriously poor, and this one was no exception. It doesn’t make me inclined to try this restaurant again.

Carluccio's Covent Garden on Urbanspoon

Bellevue Rendez-Vous restaurant, Wandsworth Common, London
Dec 16th, 2009 by Olivier

Bellevue Rendez-vous
218 Trinity Road, Wandsworth Common
SW17 7HP London

Bellevue Rendez-Vous

Bellevue Rendez-vous is my favourite local restaurant as I live just a few minutes walk away.  It is located in front of Wandsworth Common which is a great place if you are into “urban wildlife” photography (parakeets, many kinds of ducks, geese, coots, swans, herons and foxes in the evening) like me.

As starters we ordered the assiette de charcuterie (£6.50) and the scallops with open ravioles and mushroom sauce (£8.50).
As main courses we had the Mallard duck with artichoke mash and salsifi (£16) and a Venison fillet with pumpkin mash (was normally celeriac mash) and cep mushroom (£19). The desserts were a cooked pear with red wine (£5.50) and a chocolate fondant and vanilla ice cream (£6.50). The drinks were a glass of Pinot noir (£5.50) and half a litre of Badoit water (£2).

Scallops

Scallops

The scallops were very nicely cooked, as is the usual experience at this restaurant. On this occassion, they came served in a creamy mushroom sauce that was a very nice accompaniment. A very pleasant dish that I would not hesitate to take again.

Assiette de charcuterie

Assiette de charcuterie

The assiette de charcuterie was good, with some rillette, salami, ham and the cornichons to counter balance the taste. A good way to start dinner.

The main courses

The main courses

The duck

The duck

The mallard duck was the breast and a confit thigh, served with artichoke mash was excellent. The duck was beautifully cooked, just pink in the middle as requested, nicely tender and full of flavour. The mash and the parsnip strips it was served with were an excellent accompaniment that kept the meal nice and light. I could only have wished it was larger and would certainly order this meal again. The best duck I’ve had in a restaurant in the UK for quite some time.

Venison fillet

Venison fillet

The venison fillet was a little on the small side but tender and good with an excellent sauce. The taste of the venison was not overpowering as it can happen sometimes with that type of meat.

The desserts

The desserts

Cooked pear with red wine

Cooked pear with red wine

The cooked pear was very small, with an icecream on top of it. The taste of the wine was light but I did not find it mixed well with the icecream.

Chocolate fondant

Chocolate fondant

And it is indeed fondant (melting)

And it is indeed fondant (melting)

The chocolate fondant was up to its usual standard – with a lightly crispy outside and liquid centre. What I especially like here is that it is not too sweet, which is always a risk with chocolate. A nice end to the meal.

Cost and conclusion: it was £69.50 and they do not add automatically the service charge which is welcome, and rare in London. A good dinner, as usual should I add! The only problem I have is the menu that does not change often so as a local restaurant for me this is a little annoying but for anyone else, do not hesitate to go there! For more reviews about this restaurant, please visit the page listing restaurants in alphabetical order.

Bellevue Rendez-vous on Urbanspoon

The Anchor – Bankside, Southwark, London SE1 9EF
Dec 15th, 2009 by Olivier

The Anchor
34 Park Street, Bankside, Southwark
London SE1 9EF

The Anchor

The Anchor

The Anchor

It is a large building

It is a large building

The Anchor is a historic pub located near Shakespeare’s Globe. It was cold outside and the pub looked nice from outside so we decided to try it despite knowing it is in a very touristic area… Inside, it was still nice and large too. The restaurant is located at the second level and the room isn’t that big compared to the rest of the pub.

Inside

Inside

As starters we ordered the spicy carrot and lentil soup served with half baguette and butter (£4.25) and a chicken liver and pancetta pâté served with toast and damson and elderflower chutney (£4.45). Other starters were the potted brown shrimps served with toasted fingers of bread (£4.85), the smoked scottish salmon served with toast and sour cream (£5.65) and the prawn cocktail (prawns in marie rose sauce served with toast, on a bed of salad – £5.65).

As main courses we chose the grilled seabass fillet (with sautéed Mediterranean vegetable couscous drizzled with herb olive oil – £12.75) and the baked cod fillet (wrapped in pancetta, served with seasonal vegetables and new potatoes, finished with herb olive oil – £12.75). Some other interesting main courses were the tornedo rossini 7oz fillet steack (£16.75) or the traditional steak and kidney pudding (£11.75). We also had a pint of Stella (£3.80) and a glass of water.

The starters

The starters

Chicken liver and pancetta pâté

Chicken liver and pancetta pâté

The chicken liver and pancetta pâté was average and quite small/thin compared to many places I have been but also compared to the chutney. It looked more like a light mousse than a pâté, like if it was very processed. It tasted ok, not great but not bad either. The little slices of toast were good and served warm.

Spicy carrot and lentil soup

Spicy carrot and lentil soup

The soup was very poor – it was salty to the point it was inedible, and generally seemed like something that came out a can, had salt added, and then had been reheated 8 times. I would not have been surprised if my spoon could have stood up on its own in this muck. The bread it came with was fine – but the soup went back uneaten.

Baked cod fillet

Baked cod fillet

The baked cod fillet was a little smelly (smelling fish, not the pancetta) but fortunately it was firm… It was a little overcooked and dry on the outside. It tasted mostly blend, despite the pancetta’s help. More sauce would have been welcome and ironically it needed more salt as well. The vegetables were good.

Grilled seabass fillet

Grilled seabass fillet

The sea bass with couscous was also disappointing. The fish, whilst firm, had no seasoning at all and no flavour and had several burnt patches where it had got a bit close to the grill. It was a bit like eating cardboard (though it improved slightly after I added my own salt). The couscous also was poor – it had little flavour, except for that provided by a few bits of aubergine and rubbery mushrooms. Worse, it was swimming in a nasty olive oil that did little for the dish except make it greasy. Overall, a decided disappointment.

Before leaving the pub, we stopped by the bathroom. Finding it was easy – just follow the strong smell of urine. In the men’s bathroom, there were two cubicles and no light in them. Another client was complaining about it when I was there. I did not spend much time there since I am not good at holding my breath very long. A toilet should always be checked, it is not acceptable to have that kind of toilet in a restaurant.

Cost and conclusion: it was £38 and there is no service charge. They still charged for the soup despite the fact we did not touch it after a spoon of it. The service was ok, but the food was bad. Most of the clients there were tourists. This place is not going to improve the reputation of English food to say the least.

Anchor Pub on Urbanspoon

Boulevard Brasserie Wellington Street Covent Garden London
Nov 13th, 2009 by Olivier

Boulevard Brasserie
40 Wellington Street Covent Garden
London WCX2E 7BD

Boulevard Brasserie

Boulevard Brasserie is located next to Covent Garden Piazza so within easy reach of the theatres, the Royal Opera House, the London Transport Museum and incidentally from the office. It got some bad reviews on London Eating, especially for the service but actually the service was all right, and the food too. It reminds me also the bad reviews Le P’tit Normand got, which were absolutely not founded. At least it shows in these two cases the restaurants do not write fake positive reviews as we see too often.

We went for the prix fixe lunch/pre theatre at £11.95 for 2 courses which is available between 12 and 7pm. As starters you have the choice between the soupe du jour, the goat’s cheese and caramelised onion tarte, the duck parfait with toasted brioche and homemade fig chutney, the wild rocket and parmesan salad and the egg florentine, wilted spinach with poached egg and hollandaise sauce.

For the second course you get the choice between the Donald Russell minute steak with béarnaise sauce and fresh cut fries, the poached salmon with hollandaise and new potatoes, the classic chicken Kiew with pommes puree, the traditional salad Niçoise with tuna in extra virgin olive oil and the spinach and ricotta ravioli with a sage butter sauce.

We chose the egg florentine and the duck parfait, followed by the steak and the salad Niçoise. As drinks we had a glass of red wine (£4) and a glass of grapefruit juice (£1.95).

Duck parfait

Duck parfait

The duck parfait was good. The slice was thinner than usual but actually it was fine. I am just mentioning it in case some big eaters are expecting a large slice of the parfait :) The toast was good and the fig chutney good too, not too sweet. Nothing like the weird chutney I had at The Prince Albert.

Egg florentine

Egg florentine

The egg florentine was very good. It was perfectly cooked – firm white with a just-liquid yolk. It was served on hot steamed spinach (not at all salty, unlike my recent horrific experience with a very similar dish at Joe Allen) and a nice creamy hollandaise sauce.

Donald Russell minute steak with béarnaise sauce

Donald Russell minute steak with béarnaise sauce

Massive bowl of fries

Massive bowl of fries

The steak was good, nothing special but not bad either. It came with a HUGE bowl of fries, it could have fed two people easily! They were thin and crispy, as I like them. The béarnaise sauce was good and creamy but they could have been more generous with it.

Salade niçoise

Salade niçoise

The salade niçoise was quite good. It was not exactly the size you’d expect to get in France, but its ingredients were fresh and it was nicely seasoned. I would happily take this dish again.

Cost and conclusion: it was £33.58 including service. It was a decent lunch, especially when we know how things can go wrong in this Covent Garden area. And the service was fine.

Boulevard Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Le Bouchon Bordelais – French restaurant on Battersea Rise near Clapham Junction, London
Nov 9th, 2009 by Olivier

Le Bouchon Bordelais
5-9 Battersea Rise
London SW11 1HG

Le Bouchon Bordelais

Le Bouchon Bordelais

Le Bouchon Bordelais

Another view

Another view

Inside

Inside

Le Bouchon Bordelais is a restaurant located on Battersea Rise, not far from the popular Pizza Metro located on the other side of the road. It has a terrace on the foothpath, useful for smokers. Inside, on the left side it is the bar where you can go support the French football team 😉 and on the right side, isolated from the bar, is the restaurant area. It is nicely decorated, feeling normally French and not overdone like in some restaurants.

We ordered as starters the Vol au vent garni de St Jasques et Trompette des Morts (Scallop and trompette des mort vol au vent) and La Frisee aux Lardons Oeuf Poche (curly Endive Salad with Lardons and a Poached Egg). As main courses we had the Filet de Loup de Mer, Pommes Ecrasees aux Cebettes, Pomery Beurre Blanc (Panfried Seabass Filet, with Crushed Potatoes and Spring Onions,  served with a Mustard Butter Sauce) and an Escalope de Veau servie avec Cepes sautees et Pommes de Terres en Raclette (Veal escalope with garlic sauted ceps, potatoes with raclette). The desserts were a tarte tatin and a chocolate fondant. As drink we had a bottle of Badoit and a glass of red wine (Merlot) which was decent.

One thing to mention here. We both wanted the 2 courses mushroom based menu at £25 but my first choice for starter which was the Terrine de Campagne , servie avec Chanterelle et gelee de Porto (Farmhouse Country side terrine served with chanterelle mushrooms and port Jelly) was not available and the main course I first chose which was the Filet de Cabillaud servie avec Girolle Sauce (Pan fried cod filet, spinash with pan fried Girolles in garlic) was not available either. I was told they were not available 3 minutes after we ordered. More precisely I was told after 3 minutes the main course was not available so I chose another one (the panfried seabass) and then the waiter came back to tell me my starter was not available either. Well, in a normal restaurant they tell the clients about the missing meals when giving the menus so it was a messy start from the cook who should have told the waiting staff about it. At least the next clients were told about the missing meals early enough.

Not great bread

Not great bread

One thing I really find annoying is to pay for bread, especially in a French restaurant. It reminds me the cover charges in Italy for the bread and butter and I do not think I have ever paid for bread in a restaurant in France. Right, we are not in France but in the UK – but even in London most other French restaurants do not charge for bread… Well, here the bread was on the dry side which really was annoying. At Bellevue Rendez-vous or Le P’tit Normand you get excellent bread and they do not charge for it.

The starters

The starters

Scallop and trompette des mort vol au vent

Scallop and trompette des morts vol au vent

Curly Endive Salad with Lardons and a Poached Egg

Curly Endive Salad with Lardons and a Poached Egg

La Frisee aux Lardons Oeuf Poche was not bad, with nice bacon and a perfectly cooked egg but unfortunately there was too much dressing so some croutons were soaked with vinaigrette and not crispy at all.

The scallop and mushroom vol au vent was quite good, though the mushrooms weren’t terribly noticable (I think they were in the sauce). Actually it was a solo scallop inside a nice flaky pastry vol au vent. The scallop itself was a bit salty, but it combined well with the very un-salty pastry, so overall was a nice dish. It was accompanied by some steamed spinach, which went rather well with the mushroom sauce.

The main courses

The main courses

Veal escalope with garlic sauted ceps, potatoes with raclette

Veal escalope with garlic sauted ceps, potatoes with raclette

Panfried Seabass Filet

Panfried Seabass Filet

The panfried seabass fillet was good, with a lovely buttery sauce. The flesh was firm and tasty. My minor complaint here is about the skin which could have been crispy, like at they do so well at Chez Lindsay in Richmond. Here it was somewhat soggy.

The veal dish was a little bit uninteresting. I can’t really say bland, since the mushrooms were a bit too salty and the veal had quite a strong flavour also. The potatoes certainly were bland though – in fact some boiled and halved potatoes held together in a circular arrangement with a small amount of over-grilled cheese (not at all what I had expected from something described as raclette). Overall, not offensive, but far from the best veal dish I’ve ever had (which is a shame, as veal can be a very nice meal).

The desserts

The desserts

Chocolate fondant

Chocolate fondant

Melting chocolate

Melting chocolate

Tarte tatin

Tarte tatin

The chocolate fondant was excellent. It was nicely presentated, the chocolate was melting well when the shell was broken and it was not too sweet. It was matching well with the ice cream.

The tarte tatin was quite good – a good choice of apples (neither too sweet nor too bitter) and a freshly made pastry base. I think just a little overcooked though, which was a bit of a shame as the pastry was thus a bit dry and hard on the edges.

Cost and conclusion: it was £83.50 including the 12.5% service charge. Average food, nothing outstanding and the prices on the high side. The service was friendly and polite but obviously the communication within the staff isn’t very efficient.

Le Bouchon Bordelais on Urbanspoon


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