3 out of 5 and certainly no more. That’s how I define Le Café Anglais. It’s one of those places I persistently come back to despite the flaws and imperfections. The arrival of the 3/5 tag is down to the poor service at 1/5, BAA (bit above average) food at 3/5 and lastly 5/5 for the dining room.
I’m a sucker for high ceilings and I also love an ambience that shouts ‘grand’! In addition there’s the minor excuse of LCA being in close proximity to my abode, call it convenience or laziness, it’s just there!
Anyway came here for dinner with daughter. I always find it perversely pleasing to have dinner at places like LCA on Monday evenings. With the restaurant operating at around about ten percent of its capacity, the notorious service starts to improve immeasurably. The voluminous dining room in effect also becomes one’s own for the taking.
My daughter’s starter of rock oysters- all very fresh and delectable.
I began my set dinner with Country Pâté, Salad and Toast. Rustic deliciousness all round.
Daughter’s Chicken and Mushroom Pie- bit on the small side considering it costs a tenner, otherwise a serious pie; great pastry and lovely chunky pieces of chicken within.
My Cheddar and Truffle Omelette- we all know how easy it is to fluff a simple dish like this, thankfully the kitchen got this right, all soft and yielding inside. The precious little shavings of the truffle resting on the egg were enough to perfume the dish. The best dish I’ve had to date at LCA.
Daughter’s single scoop of Pineapple sorbet was deemed sweet, sharp and aromatic.
My Pineapple Mousse with Star Anise was quite simply inedible. It was too sweet and tasted as if someone knocked half a bag of sugar into the mix. Sad.
I believe this place is still very much hit and miss; where great moments are often brought down by trivial incompetence. But we ought to give Rowley Leigh and Co., credit for upholding the art of brasserie dining and introducing affordable meal offers with ever changing daily specials.
8 Porchester Gardens London, W2 4DB
My first encounter (July 2008)-
A visit to Whiteley’s is often melancholic and unexciting. Thank goodness for Le Cafe Anglais, Food Inc and maybe just, Muji; propping this grande dame of a department store alive.
First and foremost the service was sweet and assuring. The dining room was superb, bright and utterly non stuffy. When booking, ask for a window table, you'll thank me for this. The Hors d'œuvres is probably one of the reasons of the pilgrimage. The Chicken Livers Agro Dolce was a class act, The delicious signature Rabbit Rillettes was only let down by a badly chipped crockery it was served in. The two other tasters included courgette fritters and smoked mackeral pate with soft boild egg. The latter was too salty.
My main course of Rib of Beef with Bubble and Squeak was cooked to perfection and melt in the mouth. However my dining companion's Vitello Tonnato (chilled veal in tuna sauce) was sedate and tasteless except for some anchovies sitting on the veal slices. Veal for me is overrated, I find it bland. In fact in today's Sunday Times John Cleese told Michael Winner ''Veal should be banned, not because the process is so painful to the animals, but because the result is so boring.'' Right on, methinks. Not much space for puddings, but I think this place warrants a second visit.