Plateau

D&D London is one of the largest UK-based restaurant chains, with a reach that extends to 30 restaurants around the UK and other major capital cities such as Paris, Tokyo and New York. Plateau is one branch of the D&D family tree, and the décor of the restaurant is suitably attired to serve the likes of a Canary Wharf business crowd. It’s shiny and polished, with a slick city feel to it. Located on the fourth floor of Canada Square, right above Waitrose, the restaurant grants wonderful views of Canada Square. On a long sunny summer’s day this would offer a true spectacle of the hordes of people gathered around to enjoy the warm weather.

Plateau is divided between the Bar & Grill and the main restaurant. The former offers a more casual dining menu, whereas the latter bears a more contemporary French theme. In addition to the à la carte there was a three-course £25 set menu available on the night of our visit. It’s one of the things that D&D London does quite regularly – offering set price three-course menus through TopTable or The Evening Standard. In this day of austerity, these fixed-price options can be an attractive proposition for those wishing to seek out an opportunity of dining at a reasonably budget price in the swanky type setting that is a trademark of most D&D restaurants.

Well we tried both options – three courses from the à la carte menu, and three courses from the £25 menu. Starting with what we ate from the à la carte first: a risotto cooked with a Jerusalem artichoke stock (£9) was nicely done, although the rice could have done with slightly less time for a more al dente finish. A red wine reduction served as a finishing touch and added a nice sweetness to the risotto, but the flavour of a promised garlic and parsley butter as listed on the menu was not discernible. Furthermore, the braised Aylesbury snails that topped the dish were overcooked and bland.

Jerusalem artichoke risotto

Jerusalem artichoke risotto

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Alyn Williams at The Westbury

It’s been about a year and a half since Alyn Williams opened his self-named restaurant at The Westbury Hotel on Conduit Street, during which time the restaurant has increasingly grown in fame. And no wonder. For five years Williams was the head chef at Marcus Wareing’s restaurant at The Berkeley Hotel where he was instrumental in helping Wareing win two Michelin stars. Foodie establishments have also acknowledged Williams’ prowess, with Michelin awarding him a one star and The AA Three Rosettes.

The restaurant is is decorated in a style that becomes a restaurant in a 5-star hotel. It has an elegant feel to it with lots of soft furnishings, warm brown colours and soft lighting. It might be stuffy for some, elegant for others. I liked it, although I despaired at the size of the table leg that was almost as broad and wide as the table itself. It was like a tree trunk and left virtually no room for your feet to land. It didn’t create the most comfortable space in which to sit.

But the reasonably priced menu at Alyn Williams at The Westbury heals all wounds. To be sure, £60 is not an insignificant amount of money. But £60 for a seven-course tasting menu cooked by a Michelin starred chef in the heart of Mayfair is good value indeed. In fact, it’s probably the best value Michelin tasting menu in London. Both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian tasting menus are available throughout the week, but the à la carte menu (three courses for £50) is only available for dinner on Monday through Thursday.

To kick off, we were presented with some gougères while we reflected on the menu and decided on drinks. These had been gently warmed and were light and fluffy with hints of blue cheese running through them for a savoury flourish.

Gougères with blue cheese & parmesan

Gougères with blue cheese & parmesan

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Green Man & French Horn

Ed Wilson and Oli Barker, the boys behind the renowned Terroirs and its sister restaurants Soif and Brawn, have created a certain niche by selling biodynamic wines imported through wine specialists Les Caves de Pyrène. The practice of biodynamic agriculture refers to the use of organic, sustainable and ecological methods in wine making, and it is a practice that has gained momentum in recent years.

Wilson and Barker’s latest restaurant is The Green Man & French Horn. They’ve kept the name of the pub that once graced the site where the restaurant now stands. Located right in the heart of Covent Garden, it’s a quaint little place. But it’s also a tight squeeze with cramped tables and noisy acoustics.

The French menu is rustic, homely and comforting. A starter of chicken livers (£8.50) with artichoke and mâche were fat, silky smooth and dripping in flavour. Cooked to medium rare, they were well seasoned and superbly done. A drizzling of merlot vinegar and olive oil dressing left the dish with a lovely glaze and added a moist finish.

Chicken livers

Chicken livers

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Les Trois Garcons

Les Trois Garcons

Les Trois Garcons

When Les Trois Garcons opened in 2000, much noise was made about its fanciful décor, and justifiably so. The three men behind the restaurant, Hassan, Michel and Stefan, all interior designers, have fashioned the once Victorian pub into something of an art house and are also owners of the delicious Loungelover bar around the corner. Les Trois Garcons is eclectic and tasteful – the handbag installations, glamorous chandeliers and its display of taxidermy make the design of the restaurant nothing less than unique.

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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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Angelus – Visit 2

Angelus recently won the title of Best French Brasserie in Zagat’s 2013 London Survey and deservedly so. Last year I visited Angelus, a classic French brasserie on Bathurst Street near Lancaster Gate, to try their ‘small-bites’ pichounettes menu. I thoroughly enjoyed this menu for both its quality and the very reasonable price tag – I couldn’t believe you could get so much for so little.

Pichounette options are still available on the Angelus menu, but this time I was there to try their à la carte menu.

Foie gras crème brûlée (£15) was decadently rich and creamy, as well as being generously portioned. The caramelised topping of almonds and poppy seeds proved to be delicious as it provided crunchiness and sweetness, as well as character.

Foie gras crème brûlée

Foie gras crème brûlée

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L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon – Potato Menu

Potato Week will soon be upon us (1st – 7th October 2012), and to celebrate the versatility of the humble spud, the people at Many Faces of Potatoes and the two Michelin starred L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon have come together to create the world’s first ever Michelin-starred potato tasting-menu which will be served during this celebratory week at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Executive chef Olivier Limousin, a protégée of Joël Robuchon, created the menu and was on hand to cook during the preview of this dinner that I attended recently. An eight-course menu with matching wines, it is priced at £152.

The décor at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon is decidedly black and sexy. There is a choice of counter seating around the open plan kitchen on the ground floor and table seating on the first floor. Furthermore, there is a lovely bar and terrace area upstairs, which is where we enjoyed a welcoming potato gin cocktail topped with fried potato skin before dinner.

Potato gin cocktail

Potato gin cocktail

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Brassiere Blanc Covent Garden

Raymond Blanc, the two Michelin starred chef behind Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, lends his name to the new chain of restaurants called Brasserie Blanc which serves French brasserie food. The branch at Covent Garden has taken over the space where Chez Gerard once was, on the rooftop patio overlooking Covent Garden Piazza.

The interior of Brasserie Blanc Covent Garden allows for a lot of natural light, but the restaurant feels cramped with all the tables being tightly squished together. There is no disputing the fabulous location, but our table on the terrace did little to guarantee a view given the high stone balustrade that runs along the terrace.

A selection board (£11.90) of guinea fowl rillettes, Milano salami, seared mackerel, apple and pear chutney, cucumber crème fraîche, carrot vinaigrette, celeriac remoulade proved to be decent. The rillettes had a good gamey flavour running through it, and surprisingly did not taste overly fatty. The mackerel was fresh and nicely cooked.

Selection board

Selection board

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