Entries in French (16)
I had high hopes for Vinoteca. Its near to my new place of work and I had hoped this would be my "Dear God, I need a drink and some fattening food" place. Sadly, I don't think this is it. It wasn't that it was bad, it wasn't by any stretch of the imagination, it was just very familiar.
When I heard Laduree was opening in Covent Garden I almost jumped up and down. It was proof that God does listen to me when I ask for things. So a Saturday or two after it opened, The Boyfriend and I rolled in to check it out.
Finally Britain is warming up and so, The Boyfriend and I are determined to make the most of this weather by eating and drinking outside as much as possible. Sadly, London is a city that makes this a pretty difficult challenge. My list for outdoor restaurants is a small one;
The Chelsea farmers Market - is the obvious place for sunny weekends, if you can be bothered to queue, but gets cold and quiet at night. The Boundary - again if you can face the queue, is a good option but really slows down past nine pm.
For those who don’t know, Androuet is a Parisian cheese shop/restaurant that has been brought over to Spitalfields market. The place itself is tiny, just accommodating 12 people snuggly. Given their space shortage, they have done a lot to make the place feel lively. I was really excited to try Androuet. I was so excited I spent the day preparing. I managed to survive ten waking hours on smoothies, olives and dried fruit. By the time I rolled up to Androuet, I was ready, and willing, to eat the whole shop. We ordered a fondue for two to share, wanting to get straight on to the good stuff - although I was tempted by the truffle grilled cheese (if I worked in the vicinity I think that I would be here every day and at least 50lbs heavier).
So, when is a fondue not a fondue? When it is heated by a candle. In my opinion, it is the equivalent of eating at a bakery and watching your brownie bake in an Easy Bake Oven. It is toy food. Luckily, the cheese itself and the charcuterie were both lovely, and whilst the contraption may not have been authentic, the important part was.
My preparation actually let me down as in my eagerness I managed to stab my hand with my fondue fork. Equally, the Boyfriend and I were unsatisfied by just the first fondue, so we ordered another. To be honest, I think even if I hadn’t been starving before I arrived we probably would have ordered another, making this place not quite the bargain it appears.
It was a fun night out, for a casual midweek dinner, and it was different. It didn't cost any more than my previous night out at Jamie's, as it came to £40.00 (fondue plus a lot of wine) and it was a lot more enjoyable. This would be a great post work, lets grab a bite to eat venue or lunch time, I so want to try that grilled cheese, or a really great first midweek date place. However, if I want real Savoyarde fare - I think it prefer to test out L'art du Fromage, or L'Cave du Fromage.
But eventually, we had to leave as it closes at 11. At least, my credit card issues maybe saved. It came to £60.00 most of which was booze related. Not only was this pretty good value but the experience left me so happy I probably won't be online shopping for at least a week. Its truly a wonderful place. I can't wait to come back. I just hope they like me as much as I like them, because I intend to make Baranis my every Thursday place.
I've heard a lot about L'atelier de Joel Robuchon. How could I not? The guy has about a zillion michelin stars and unlike the other oh-so-glamorous chefs,(ahem *Gordon Ramsey*) all of Mr Robuchon's restaurants, bar 1, have Stars. Thats 26 stars between 11 restaurants. Some achievement. Mr Robuchon has more star's than any other chef on the planet and his London restaurant is the proud holder of two.
So not only did I eat a meal that boosts the name of, arguably, the best chef on the face of the Earth ,which was possibly one of the most satisfying experiences of my life, but better, it cost me £35.00. Thats the equivalent of a topshop shirt, or a manicure, or 17 one way bus tickets, or a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.
By my calculations, this makes this meal one of the cheapest I have reviewed on this blog so far, its not that I don't eat at cheaper restaurants, its that The Boyfriend's taste in wine automatically skews the cost upwards, (clearly time to start getting dinner without him), but anyway this meal was the clear winner in a price to satisfaction competition.
This was my second trip to a 2* Michelin Star restaurant after my first, disastrous experience at Le Gavroche. How is this place is superior to Le Gavroche? Let me count the ways -
Firstly, this place is cool. Its all dark, red, shiny and mirrors, low lighting. If you're trying to impress a date this is the place. Theres a bar you can watch the chefs and a wall of plants (yes, it should be tacky but its not).
Secondly, the service is not only impeccable but also charming and subtle. You hardly notice the waiters as they glide around, in fact, I think they were gliding.
Thirdly, the food is just mind blowingly good.
Fourthly, the food could pass for art.
Fifthly, it was relaxing, not stiff, stuffy or pretentious although, I should check if there is a dress code.
Sixthly, I could actually see the prices.
Anyway, back to the experience. So I headed to what I may now refer to as Heaven, on a Monday lunch time, sans The Boyfriend, but plus a friend. Suprisingly, Heaven looks more like Hell, the decor I alluded to above, is all dark and red. This is the kind of restaurant where not only the food looks good but you do too.
In order to be economical, my friend, The Moonster (childhood nickname that stuck), ordered a starter and a main course (£22.00) and I ordered a main course and a dessert (£22.00) so we could have a bite of everything.
Bread arrived first. It was pretty good (and free, gotta love that) but butter and oil- less which struck me as a bit odd. I don't know whether it was intentional or not or they just forgot it, but either way without it, the bread was a little dry.
Overall, it was a great experience that I think I will be day dreaming about for a long time.
Tom's Kitchen or 28-50. The Boyfriend liked the terrine but again, to me it was a little bland.
At roughly £70.00 the price was not that reasonable. What we ate wasn't interesting enough to make me desperate for a return visit and frankly, waiting 30 minutes is a little annoying if you've booked. Saying that, the table next to us had ordered the Vacherin Mont D'or with potatoes and a selection of meat at£ 36.00. It looked incredible and I spent the majority of the meal watching them eat it. So maybe I will go back for the Mont D'or, as they did look very happy while eating it.