Brasserie Zédel

The latest addition to Jeremy King and Chris Corbin’s ever-growing restaurant empire is Brasserie Zédel, their third restaurant after The Wolesley and The Delaunay. Like its older siblings, Brassiere Zédel has been decorated in the style of a grand Parisian café with high ceilings and lots of marble. Millions was obviously pumped into its design.

Brasserie Zédel occupies the space that was previously The Atlantic, right in the heart of Piccadilly Circus. With its Central London location, what is most surprising about Brasserie Zédel is its prices, which are exceptionally reasonable. The restaurant is housed in the basement, right next to the Bar Américain. There is also a café at the entrance to the restaurant on the ground floor.

Parfait de foie gras (£8.75) tasted predominantly of chicken liver. It was tasty if a little salty. The accompanying sauterne jelly was bland, and consequently this dish lacked for some acidity. Saumon mariné à l’aneth (£6.50), cured salmon with chives, was decent.

Parfait de foie gras

Parfait de foie gras

Salmon

Salmon

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Bill’s Produce Store – St Martin’s Courtyard, Covent Garden

Bill’s Produce Store and Restaurant in Covent Garden has a lovely spot overlooking the chic St Martin’s Courtyard which houses a string of shops and restaurants such as Dalla Terra. Bill’s is a darling restaurant full of charm and warmth, but on a sunny day, a table outside overlooking the courtyard is particularly pleasant.

Bill’s might be a restaurant, but serves a dual function as a produce store with a range of products available for sale lining their shelves. There is something wonderfully endearing about this restaurant, and best of all, the prices are low, with most mains hovering around the ten-pound mark.

We shared three starters including a hot smoked Scottish salmon (£5.65) that was beautiful, fleshy and full of flavour. The accompanying peach salad with red chicory and pomegranate, honey and mustard dressing worked well with the fish and was a successful combination.

Hot smoked salmon

Hot smoked salmon

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Choccywoccydoodah

Choccywoccydoodah cake

Choccywoccydoodah cake

Choccywoccydoodah specialises in a highly stylised bespoke cake service, offering cakes that are hand-sculptured from chocolate. The cakes resemble high art, and a visit to the shop on Fouberts Place near Carnaby Street (there is also a store in Brighton) is well worth it to ogle at the skill of the craftsmanship. Hard to believe that these are cakes, and that the icing designs are sculpted from chocolate.

Choccywoccydoodah cake

Choccywoccydoodah cake

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The Delaunay

The Delaunay is the sister restaurant to the grande dame of brasserie eating, The Wolseley, and it is in every way as resplendent as its older sibling. Owners Jeremy King and Chris Corbin’s approach was simple – to bring the best touches of old-world European café glamour and sophistication into one establishment. Think doorman with top-hat, dark wood and shiny brass fittings, a gorgeous French antique clock, and you have a sense of the Continental grandeur that The Delaunay exudes and which is also the trademark characteristic of The Wolseley.

The restaurant offers an all-day service. There are soups, eggs and sandwiches, but the slant on the food is decidedly Germanic, and there are items such as wieners and ‘tagesteller’ (dish of the day) on the menu. There is also a bit of French and British thrown in with the likes of croquet monsieur and Welsh rarebit, and for something more refined, Sevruga and Beluga caviar are available as well.

A steak tartare (small with toast – £10.50) boasted of quality meat with a rich hearty flavour. It was extremely tasty, but the tartare was a touch too acidic, and it also needed a little more onion to better balance the dish. It was served with some rustic sour dough bread.

Steak tartare

Steak tartare

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Riding House Café

The Riding House Café may call itself a café, but let’s get one thing straight – the modern all-day brasserie is a restaurant in every sense of word. It’s been cleverly split into two with a bar area that houses a long wooden table for casual drop-in diners. The bar then leads into a main dining room with leather chairs and banquettes, sumptuous wood panelling and gorgeous low light pendants which have been brought together with a slightly retro feel. The Riding House Café is gorgeous, and it has to be one of the sexiest restaurants I have seen of late.

And then it has the kind of menu which makes you want to taste everything. There are lots of smallish plates for sharing, satisfying sounding salads and hearty rustic mains. Make no mistake; the clever people behind The Riding House Café took great pains in the design of this outfit. This is the kind of restaurant you want to come to eat at and slink around in.

With such great expectations, we decided on a number of small plates, starting with the chicken liver parfait (£5) with truffle butter, cornichons and served on crostini. The parfait was creamy and tasty, and this would have been a good dish had it not been for the over seasoning.

Chicken liver parfait

Chicken liver parfait

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Delfina

Delfina is a restaurant I discovered while on route to Zucca and Jose, all three of which are on Bermondsey Street near London Bridge. It has an inviting contemporary look to it – lots of white space – and its high ceilings can be attributed to the fact that it is housed in what was once a converted chocolate factory. The building is now used for exhibitions and the like, and the restaurant opens for lunch from Monday to Friday, and for dinner on a Friday night.

On the Friday evening of our visit we tried seared scallops (£7.50) which disappointed. The scallop had started to go bad with an unpleasant taste to them. Furthermore, they weren’t really scallops (plural), but one scallop cut into two. The accompanying saffron cauliflower was also a touch underdone.

Scallops

Scallops

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Maison Blanc – Celebration Cakes

Fraisier

Fraisier

Maison Blanc is the French Boulangerie and Pâtisserie originally created by two-star Michelin chef Raymond Blanc of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons fame. It first opened in 1981 in Oxford, and today brings a little slice of France to 14 locations in the South of England. Maison Blanc serves a selection of freshly baked artisan breads, pastries, savouries, cakes and pâtisserie which are all hand finished.

I was lucky enough to sample some of the Maison Blanc celebrations cakes for my birthday recently with my office colleagues. First up was the delectable Fraisier, a light mousseline cream made with crème pâtissière and cream which was soft whipped to achieve a smooth, almost mousse-like consistency. Layered on a vanilla sponge base and topped with fresh strawberries and a white chocolate glaze, it was heavenly and lusciously light.

Fraisier

Fraisier

A tentation was a showcase in decadence. Raspberry soaked almond and chocolate sponge had been layered with chocolate and raspberry scented ganache to produce a beautifully rich and luscious cake with hints of raspberry. Finished with a shiny chocolate glaze, the cake was a feast for the eyes.

Tentation

Tentation

Also delicious was the chocolate surprise box, a lovely pistachio and almond sponge alternately layered with a rich and creamy chocolate and raspberry ganache. Topped with a whole mixed berry jelly, the surprise element came when you lifted the 72% premium dark chocolate box to reveal the cake. The box had been sprayed with gold powder to give it a glamorous finish.

Chocolate box

Chocolate box

These cakes were divine and a great birthday treat. Maison Blanc also offers a seasonal café menu that includes a selection of lunch options from filled baguettes and sandwiches, to salads, soup and savouries. There’s also a breakfast menu, with choices ranging from Scottish smoked salmon platters to a classic Le Parisien.


Summary information

Cekebration cake rating: 4/5

Price range: Cakes range from £17 – £35. Cakes serve 10.

Website: http://maisonblanc.co.uk/


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Wallace & Co

Note: This restaurant has now closed.

Wallace & Co.

Wallace & Co.

Wallace & Co is the new cafe/restaurant (opened about three weeks) undertaking by Greg Wallace of Masterchef fame. You know, the self-proclaimed “cooking woman’s crumpet”. The happy chappy with the shiny skull and the big booming voice, who along with John Torode, came up with some rather memorable (or depending on your viewpoint – laughable) turns of phrase on the show. Wallace & Co is located in Putney, rather than the more competitive locales of Central London, and it looks the part of a wholesome neighbourhood restaurant. It’s cosy, airy and spacious, and decorated in warm green and beige colours, it feels so homely that you can’t help but want to go in and sip a cappuccino or two.

The centrepiece at the front of the restaurant is a huge wooden table, littered with scrumptious looking baked goods. There is also a take-away salad bar, and, something that should come as no surprise, vegetables for purchase (Greg is a wholesale greengrocer after all – his business is called Secrett’s Direct). Behind the front section is the split level dining area.

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