Sunday, 28 April 2013

What the Elles?

Deep in the heart of Banglatown sits Chez Elles, a funny, little parody of a French Bistro. The room is trying (too hard?) to be wittily French and the staff all have the perfect (dare I say "Allo "Allo) manner. But they were welcoming and , Lord be praised, never mentioned the dreaded "We need the table back...."sentence. The Kirs were tasty and the menu promised an almost cliched assortment of oh-so French dishes. Having said that, my snails were delightfully garlicky and buttery and went down a treat. The Tartare was a little too roughly cut but not bad. The Creme Brulee was as it should be. From a very limited wine list we chose a perfectly good Rhone and the evening went with a swing and the ambience was relaxed. So, not fine dining but very fair prices and the food , while unadventurous,tasty enough. I give it a generous 7.5/10 because I had a really good time.


Chez Elles presents itself in rather a confusing manner - on the one hand an almost parodic version of 'la belle France' - all chintzy decor and frogs legs, waitresses out of the Amelie casting book - on the other hand decent bistro fare at decent prices. It has a certain charm...

Started with a refreshing kir served in those old-fashioned bistro wine glasses seldom seen on these shores any more. Ju and I shared an admirable planche Campagne consisting of pate, ham, rillettes and the like. I then plumped for duck confit which was ok, though accompanied by a somewhat synthetic tasting ratatouille.
Fine apple tart to finish, very drinkable cote de rhone throughout.

Definitely not fine dining, fair enough, but it would be nice if they strayed off the French Theme Park menu to offer some more surprising choices (like you get in the real France)....I'll give it a 6.75/10

The Bill

Sunday, 18 November 2012

I'm taking the Piscos

A slightly unprepossessing entrance lead one through the busy bar and on to the our table. When Ju and Yi arrived we looked to Ti for guidance and thus ordered wonderful Pisco Sours. They had exactly the right balance of flavour and strength and saw us merrily through the whole meal. The snacks Ti chose to go with round 1 were superb and then on to the serious business of Ceviche. Mine was as good as anything I've eaten for a long time and I could have quite happily stuck with Ceviche all night. The skewers were delicious and the salads complimented well. By then I could have stopped but the Piscos kept coming so what the heck. The only bum notes were the very loud ones coming out of the speaker above our first table but the friendly and unassuming staff soon fixed that. I will go again and I give 8.75/10


Those South Americans have discovered a great taste combination - pisco sours and cevich-ed fish!
We opted to go with the sours instead of wine with our meal, and very delicious (and potent) they were too. The tequenos were a delight - cigarillos of fried corn dough filled with spicy chicken or cheese.
Between us we pretty much journeyed through the whole menu, but the highlight for me was the 'Don Ceviche': a perfect mound of generously chunky bass in a perfectly balanced 'tiger's milk'. Gorgeous.
The skewered steak was also lovely...
Ceviche is a delightful discovery, one to re-visit. I'll give it an 8.5.

The Bill

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Reisz, that was nice !

Jason Atherton does one proud but it costs !
A spacious, comfortable dining environment with muted colours, crisp linen, your neighbour at a respectable distance and attentive staff who can provide reading glasses. Leisurely beginning with a Rumbullion - sweet, sour, strong and sharp; just as a cocktail should be and accompanied by a very large pork scratching with a lovely apple and parsnip (?) dip. Good start. Excellent bread and butter although they tried to take it away after the first course. What is this hideous habit one finds so often in English restaurants - bread's not just for starters ! I began with crab in a coriander vinaigrette with nashi pear; a flavoursome combination but the alleged "frozen peanut powder" was sadly absent. My next course was roast red mullet with cockles, prawn and a kind of catalan rice which was rich and delicious. All washed down with some excellent albarino wine. For desert, I enjoyed a goat's milk rice pudding with mango sorbet and passion fruit sorbet. And with this, I had a glass of muscat de rivesaltes - is there anything more heavenly than a first rate sweet wine ? No, I say ! You are probably thinking that I over-riced in this meal. Perhaps I did, but I enjoyed it all. I did think our meal was very expensive and so I didn't get that tingle in the taste buds you get with great food and good value. So I give it 7.5/10