Thursday, December 15, 2011

Le Café Anglais - A Winter Review

Gastronomist Rowley Leigh, is the tour-de-force behind (or even in front of) this glamorous venue, on the site  - unbelievable but true - of a former McDonalds, located on the top floor of Whiteleys shopping emporium.

A statement chandelier and red velvet furnishings make an impressive impact, as you cross the threshold, through the heavy frosted-glass doors. The staff are smiling and welcoming.

We sat on a pastel green banquette, facing the busy, open kitchen. Rowley was in attendance over his brigade – whom he appeared to treat with total respect – resulting in an overriding vibe of calm and harmonious efficiency, dedicated to producing great food, to a timely schedule.

My two companions (regulars at the venue) had the Christmas Set Menu, (three courses at £35), as they craved the seasonal main of Roast Goose, with Christmas Pudding, to finish. I decided on a light starter of Beetroot and Boquerones (Spanish anchovy fillets), at £5, followed by the deliciously creative, vegetarian main – comprising roast chestnuts, fennel, cavolo nero and polenta slices, in a richly- flavorsome, tomato-suffused stew sauce – (£12.50). It was super-filling (although not heavy) and a perfect counter to December weather. I couldn’t finish it all but was still ‘lured’ into a dessert (I had to join in with my table, you understand!)… So, I indulged in the decadent, deep-dark chocolate soufflé, with its complementary, home-made hazelnut (including crunch) ball of ice-cream (£9.50). Divinely intense and, again, impossible to finish.

A brilliant setting for taste, quality and contented good service; useful to bear-in-mind that it’s also possible to enjoy a light, reasonably-priced meal, throughout the day - in the Oyster Bar - located close to the entrance. Grade: 9.5 out of 10.

Le Café Anglais, 8 Porchester Gardens, London W2 4DB

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