Tuesday, 6 September 2011

#Game 1

From now till the end of Jan 2012 I’ll endeavour to eat as much game as I can. And that’s hopefully without breaking my teeth courtesy of the odd lead shot, or let alone swallowing the blasted projectile to encourage undesirable symptoms like insomnia, delirium, cognitive deficits, convulsions, hallucinations, etc.

The red grouse together with the ptarmigan and snipe are the first meted out victims of The Glorious Twelfth. Now if you can afford to, eating these game birds immediately on or after the 12 August is not such a bad thing; the shot birds are usually the hyperactive young ones and hardly ‘hung’ i.e. more tender and most certainly less acquired in taste.

Le Café Anglais is only ten minutes’ walk from my abode but I’ve never been overwhelmed. Perhaps its location within a shopping centre that’s inherently culpable of soul sucking as soon as one walks in doesn’t help. Whiteleys is woefully damned and a grim place. Thankfully the guests’ entrance on Porchester Gardens deters any deviation into the graveyard spaces scraps realm left vacated by what was and the not-at-all-missed Food Inc. And please FGS don’t even accidentally enter the All Star Lanes next door; a place strictly for the upper-class dorks and their pretentious kids attempting to skittle feverishly whilst eating faux Big Macs. Believe me, ice-skating with the hoodies at Queens and a duck rice frenzy from the Four Seasons thereafter are collectively an experience more fulfilling!

The service on the Sunday evening I turned up was excellent. I hazard to guess it was somewhat inspired and led by the presence of the chef proprietor’s daughter, Ruth Leigh.

The trademark radishes and breadbasket that are part of LCA’s cover charge. Just to say that I’m entirely au fait with it here.

Fish Soup with Croutons and Rouille.
My dining companion suggested the soup was a tad too fishy but forgivable nonetheless seeing that she ordered a fish dish on a Sunday evening. A mea culpa moment she admitted. She also fussed about the ceremony concerning DIY croutons.

Pike Boudin with Fines Herbes

If the pike is a fish then I certainly failed to taste any of it. I know that I’m be treading on contentious territory but the quenelles de brochet I had in Lyons were immensely richer and more flavourful than the above fish sausage. It was essentially bland and what little saving grace there was the superb creamy butter sauce graciously supplemented. Overall it was gravely disappointing and an overpriced first course.

Not photographed was the dining companion’s mixed omelette. That she pronounced as beautifully seasoned and herby but sadly overcooked. Any omelette lacking the inviolable runniness within fails big time.

The primary reason for my visit that evening.

Roast Grouse

It came with game chips, bread sauce, giblet gravy, redcurrant jelly and heaps of watercress stuffed up the bird’s cavity. The game chips without the requisite perforations were the best I’ve had and the bread sauce likewise.

Like a good steak the grouse can only be served pink or more rare.

And what did it taste like? The following words spring to mind- bitter, sweet, earthy, woody, memorable, one-off and obviously gamey.
The roast grouse at LCA was a majestic and inspired dish, it enhanced my evening on and on for a long time.
However my dining companion was less complimentary when she tasted a bit of the bird- the stench was that of a handmade soap shop and a number two procedure both rolled into one and as for the taste, raw chicken meat marinated in quinine…eewh, never again!
‘Such a misinformed philistine!’ I immediately rebutted.

Waste not, want not and gnawed to the bone because it was that delicious.

LCA is forever nothing more than a 6/10 effort, the consistent misses let down an otherwise decent and ‘well to do’ but informal brasserie. But because game is a thing of beauty, both physically and edible, LCA knows a thing or two about how to serve them well. If the grouse is not your cuppa then go for the chicken with tarragon cooked on the showcasing rotisserie (the leg at £6.50 has to be one the best bargains found in London). Enjoy your grouse.

8 Porchester Gardens
London W2 4DB



thora said...

Looking forward to the next posts then because I love game.

Dad said...

You've done it again! (No, not the "coming to Saaf Lund'n without telling us" thing).

I'm talking about one of your majestic pictures - I mean, I know I should be slobbering over the pictures of delicious looking grouse, but I am LOVING the colour of those radishes in amongst the black and white table top and bits and pieces.

Très arty!

bellaphon said...

Dad- the camera I use is well past its sell by date, all the pics are frantically retouched like there's no tomorrow!

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