For my sister’s birthday, we joined her friends, Nate and Caro for dinner at the Michelin-starred Chez Bruce. I took this as a bit of a surprise, particularly considering that French’s isn’t exactly my sister’s favourite and Chez Bruce is quite far from where we both live, but I guess a special occasion to dine at this well accomplished restaurant is still a good reason.
We’d booked ourselves in for a 7pm dinner, and due to unpredictable baby arrangements, our other fellow diners ended up slightly late. This was the first test of the restaurant, to see whether or not they would push us to hurry (which they didn’t) and if they took care of us in the meantime (which they did).
Chez Bruce isn’t a very large restaurant. On first guesses, it would hold about forty of fifty covers excluding the private dining room upstairs. It reminded me much more of Cambridge’s Restaurant 22 that appeared more like a family home that a restaurant, and I mean this in a good way. This could be changing soon since they’re undergoing some sort of refurbishment as I write this.
Whilst we waited, we were served a deliciously light and crumbly parmesan cracker dotted around the edges with black and white sesame seeds. I think we also had some bread served with butter although I don’t remember the selection being particularly snazzy. I guess my lack of pictures is one indicator of it.
I started with the brandade fritters with vegetable escabeche, chorizo and aioli. Although tempted by a number of the other appetisers, I’m really glad I ordered this dish. The batter was light and crisp and the brandade (effectively a salt cod mix) worked perfectly without needing any additional seasoning on top. Perfectly formed aioli brought a richness to the dish with the escabeche brining that slight heat.
As far as French dishes go, the blanquette of pig’s cheek with boudin blac, roast fillet, choucroute and crackling looked a bit of a mess on a plate. However as far as taste and variety went, this dish went in all sorts of directions with the boudin blanc (white pudding) a soft, slightly oily texture contrasting with perfectly crisp pork crackling. The meaty pork fillet providing heart to the dish only to be compared to the softest part and tenderest part of the pig – the pork cheek. Each of the spring vegetables brought even more flavours and complexity to the dish and did well to stick to classic French ingredients.
Strangely enough they brought out our truffles before our dessert although perhaps that might be because we ask for our tea and coffees at the same time. Verging on the point of being full, I skipped tasting any of them, despite there being enough for almost two each.
My dessert, hot chocolate pudding with praline parfait was abnormally large, for what I’d consider a French style dessert. Wickedly deep in flavour and excessively rich, I savoured every mouthful with the warm contrast of the pudding against the icy coolness of the parfait and then surprised by the crunch provided by the praline scattered about.
I’ve got some great pictures of the other dishes as well, but can’t really comment on the flavours. Here they are for completeness sake:
Appetiser: Roast calf’s sweetbreads with truffle velouté, mushrooms, spätzle and peas (+£5.00)
Appetiser: Gazpacho Andaluz with buffalo mozzarella and basil oil
Appetiser: Foie gras and chicken liver parfait with toasted brioche
Main: Sea bream with provençale vegetable relish, grilled baby squid, sauce nero, gnocchi and almonds
Main: Duck magret with borlotti beans, raviolo, foie gras, tarragon and sherry vinegar
Main: Lamb rump with Sicilian stuffed courgette, meatballs, artichokes and cherry tomatoes
Dessert: Dark chocolate delice with salted caramel sauce and clotted cream
Dessert: Pimm’s jelly with strawberries, cucumber and mint
Dessert: Crème brûlée
As far as service goes, I wasn’t as pleased with them as a number of other Michelin starred restaurants. We had to ask twice for our tap water jug to be filled and although they brought dishes and whisked them away in a timely manner, the attendants didn’t seem to be around, even for catching they eye when we needed to (like getting the bill).
Still, I really enjoyed the food there and given it’s a great value £42.50 for three courses (excluding service and drinks), I would definitely head all the way out there for another great evening meal.
Name: Chez Bruce
Found at: 2 Bellevue Road, London SW17 7EG, United Kingdom