I have to admit it did not have the WOW factor of The Ledbury or The Square or even Chez Bruce, but it was a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday lunch time. The set Sunday lunch at £25 a head is not particularly adventurous, but what they do, they do well. My Whitebait starter had maybe a bit too much batter for some tastes, but was fresh, tasty and not in the least bit greasy. The potted pork rillette was a bit ordinary but fine for a set lunch. The mains were well received. The mash served with my well cooked haddock was particularly good.
The Bitter chocolate pudding matched with PX sherry was a triumph (I should have photographed the empty plates!)
All in all, it was a perfectly pleasant way to spend a Sunday lunch time.
They were also pushing an excellent BYOB deal (no corkage fee on a Sunday evening), something that I do hope more and more fine dining restaurants take up, see Guardian article covering this trend.
We finally got around to trying out Chez Bruce in Wandsworth. So many people had raved about it over the years. In fact it was first recommended to me about 15 years ago when I lived in the area. Isn’t it annoying when other people are right, I really wish I had listened and started eating there then. I might have better fitted into the age group of the clientele too, who are typically 30 somethings.
The food which is often described as Modern British, actually has lots of different influences, French, Italian and Nordic.
To start my companion had the Gravadlax and beetroot club sandwich with herring salade lyonaise and horseradish, which was sublime. It definitely gets his vote for best starter of the year. I had the middle white pork terrine with warm potato salad and sauce gribiche which was also excellent. We accompanied these dishes with a carafe of rather stunning Pouilly Fuisse wine.
For main course my companion had the beautifully moist and tender venison loin with potato rosti and squash puree. A wonderful dish.
My Shetland salmon and scallops with Jerusalem artichoke puree, gnocchi, prosciutto and chaterelles, worked well combining fish and meat flavours beautifully.
As you can tell from all the superlatives I have used so far we really rated this place. It became our post Christmas treat, actually eclipsing Koffmanns, which is saying something.
Chez Bruce is very relaxing and not somewhere you would want to rush, so we extended our meal by having a cheese course matched with a lovely glass of chilled Rasteau 2007, Domaine De Trapadis, before “resting” and continuing on to dessert. For dessert we focused on the lighter dishes. The beautiful poached pear with honey and stem ginger ice cream and the prune and armagnac ice cream, accompanied by a refreshing glass of Muscat d’Asti.
We had no room for coffee and truffles, but did manage to squeeze in a small piece of shortbread, offered at the end of meal. Best shortbread I have ever had, with a hint of caramel, it was quite lovely.
We then asked for the bill, expecting it to be excessive as we had rather indulged ourselves. We were pleasantly surprised at how reasonable it was.
Chez Bruce is a part of Nigel Platts-Martins stable of restaurants. Holding its own against it’s sibling restaurants which include The Square, The Ledbury, La Trompette and The Glasshouse. Nothing jars here (not even the bread), the food, the service levels and the atmosphere seem just right. I certainly won’t be waiting another 15 years to return.
We started in the bar area with some delicious canapes and a glass of the house champagne then moved to our table where we had the dilemma, do we go for the tasting menu or do we go À la carte? Tough one.
There were so many lovely sounding starters on the À la carte, we were pushed in that direction. Which was actually a mistake, as we have effectively trained ourselves to appreciate the smaller portions and broader taste range of tasting menus. So the larger portions for the mains were a bit of a struggle. The other plus for going the tasting menu route is if one course is not so great then it’s not such a big deal, as it effectively gets lost in the crowd.
Two of us made main course choices that really showed off The Squares cuisine. I had the Roast Saddle of Lincolnshire Hare with a Tarte Fine of Celeriac and Pear which was amazing and one of my companions had the Fillet of Aged Ayrshire Beef with Autumn Truffle, Smoked Bone Marrow and Red Wine, again stunning but too large a portion. My other companion choose the Caramelised Pork Belly with Glazed Trotter, Savoy Cabbage, Langoustine Claws and Lentils and was very disappointed, as the Pork Belly was very fatty. Which was such as shame as up until that point everything had been sublime.
The pre dessert was a rather nice doughnut and rhubarb/raspberry concoction. Then for dessert I had a very boozy Rum and Raisin Soufflé with Gingerbread Ice Cream – stunning. To finish we then had coffee and some Armagnac. This was served with a nicely balanced selection of petits fours that consisted of some chocolate/nutty/Carmel truffles and a range of lollipop style sweets. We finished them all. Only to have a second set delivered later.
The Square like Hibiscus has 2 Michelin stars and 4 AA Rosettes, but from the point of view of imagination and food quality based on our visits to both these restaurants, the Square is streets ahead of Hibiscus. However when we directly compared it to Tom Aikens which has 1 Michelin star and 5 AA Rosettes, the conclusion was that Tom Aikens pipped The Square at the post.