Saturday, 28 January 2012

Dinner Chez Bruce

Last night I had a trip to glamorous Wandsworth in deepest sarf London for a (much belated) birthday meal for a friend at Chez Bruce.

We had a most excellent night with plenty of quality food and wine. It may be a reflection of the brilliant standards of this restaurant but I feel it may have had something to do with the fact that my friend's brother is the pastry chef and his fiancée was also having dining with us. Any road, I'm not complaining, we had a most exceptional night, I'm just saying that my experience may not be described as "typical".

Now there aren't any photos, I'm afraid. I have still to get over the sometime awkwardness of taking photos in restaurants and it just didn't seem appropriate last night.

We were greeted with a glass of some bubbly. Once we'd ordered, we had an extra starter of cream of celeriac soup with a warm gougère (which I know now are small cheesy choux pastry pillows) and chanterelles. The soup was sublimely smooth and rich with the delicious mushrooms adding a real earthy note. This boded well for the meal ahead!

My "proper" starter was an oxtail tartlet with garlic purée, snails and red wine. Bit of an odd one this. A slightly untidy pastry case filled with tasty oxtail but I'm lost as to what the snails brought. The other starter on our table was the salad of pig's head with beetroot, mustard, comté and crackling which was a perfect example of a warm meaty salad: full of individual flavours that combined in glorious harmony.

My risotto nero (very salty or "heavily seasoned" as I was corrected!) was accompanied by a perfect slice of sea bass and some chewy squid. There was also a sauté of broccoli and garlic which seemed to have got lost on their way to another dish. An unsatisfying main with mixed highs and lows.

Whilst trying to decide what to have for dessert we were persuaded to have some cheese (mind you we didn't take much convincing). The cheeses were great not least of all a very unusual soft cheese made with a combination of goat's and cow's milk. The port we had to accompany the cheese was sublime.

I was so full, I wasn't even sure if I wanted a pud so I just asked for a "surprise". What I got in return was the booziest rum baba I have ever had. Thankfully the grilled pineapple and chantilly cream offset the booze, just. The apple and custard toasted sandwich was exactly what it says it is. Although slightly more refined that you can make at home with your Breville.

The meal was great (really as it should be when you're out with very good friends) with very well cooked food deeply rooted in classic French cuisine that, on the whole, was hard to fault. It came as little surprise when I later found out that Chez Bruce has one of Michelin's shiny stars. I'd go back in a flash.

I must also make mention of the front of house. Our waitress was brilliant: warm, witty and genuinely welcoming. The sommelier also managed to completely surprise me. As we were discussing our first wine option she declared "I know you". This came as somewhat of a surprise as I was pretty confident that I'd never clapped eyes on here before. Apparently she recognised me when we first arrived but couldn't work out where from. It turns out that over 15 years ago she was on a kids camp that I used to work on. Ridiculous. Apparently "I haven't changed much at all". I think we finally worked out that that was a compliment! Banter like that, from the pair of them, just added to our evening.

Chez Bruce on Urbanspoon

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