Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Chez Bruce

Chez Bruce has won many awards over the years including Londoner's favourite restaurant (2006). Located in Wandsworth Common, it is quintessentially a neighbourhood restaurant, one which I wish was round the corner from my home. It offers great food, excellent service and a comfortable setting, all at an unbeatable price of £35 for three courses. If I lived in the vicinity of it, I'd go every weekend for lunch.

A bottle of good wine and good company: ingredients of a great meal
The menu offered a good selection of meat, seafood and vegetarian options for starter and main courses (7 each). I picked the foie gras and chicken liver parfait for starter and lamb sausage roll with roast rump as my main. The foie gras and chicken parfait was smooth, topped with an interesting combination of celeriac, walnuts, gesiers and quince. Gesiers, I found out from our server, are the small muscles at the back of a bird's throat. What I loved about my meal there apart from the outstanding food was the attentiveness of the staff, they were knowledgeable about the dishes and were eager to indulge me with explanations. The brioche was however a bit of a let down, I would have preferred a slice of country bread toasted, like those served in Dinner by Heston, but this was but a small fault in an otherwise good starter.

My main of lamb sausage roll was so creamy and delicious, I almost devoured it in one go before moving on to the other elements on my plate. The roast rump was tender and succulent with the rosemary and anchovy sauce balancing the flavours of the plate perfectly. Half way through my main course, I asked to see the cookbook "Bruce's cookbook" that was advertised on the menu because I felt it was the sort of food I would love to (and felt that I could with some practice) replicate at home for dinner parties with friends or weekend lunches for the family. The food served in the restaurant and the recipes contained in the cookbook is the top end of home cooking, tasty but humble and down to earth, fancy enough to impress but not fanciful to be pretentious.

Entering the restaurant I noticed the humongous cheese board so I opted for a cheese platter while Oliver ordered the Pistachio macaroon with griottine cherry cake, kirsch Chantilly and cocoa nibs which was like a French ice cream sandwich and was so very addictive. As for the cheese, I asked for a selection of the smelliest cheese (in fact I said "the stinkier the better") and was recommended the creamiest goat's cheese, a Dutch Gouda as well as the king of all smelly cheese-- the stinking bishop (for a moment, I actually looked around the dining room suspiciously thinking someone had pooped themselves before Oliver pointed out that "That Smell" was coming from the plate in front of me). Served with a selection of carrs, oat crackers and raisin bread, it was an immensely satisfying end to a great meal.

Food aside, I was impressed with the laid back feel to the restaurant. While there was no doubt that we were in an upmarket restaurant, there was a laid back atmosphere that made the meal that much more enjoyable, especially for a weekend lunch. Also, I have to point out how nice it was to be able to call up a restaurant just a few days before and get a booking and also not pay an arm and a leg for a decent meal. If you happen to venture to that part of London or make a special trip to try this gem that has stood the test of time, its worth it. 

Chez Bruce on Urbanspoon

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