Old friends, Chez Bruce and Borough Market

A short while ago, we were treated by Old friends ( friends that we have known for a long time, and not old at all) to a wonderful dinner at Chez Bruce in Wandsworth ( London). Not my neck of the woods at all, and in fact in all the years that I have been connected in some way or another, have never been to that part of London!  After all, it is south of the river! South of the river means transportation is just that little bit more difficult. So difficult in fact, it meant we had to drive! Quelle Horreur! But the friends and the restaurant made it all worth while.

Fish cake starter
Fish cake starter
black fig starter
black fig starter

Chez Bruce is one of the three restaurants run by Chef Bruce Poole .

Chez Bruce opened for business in 1995. Nigel  ( Nigel Platts Martin business partner and owner of the Ledbury and the Square) and Bruce added The Glasshouse, in Kew in 1999; and La Trompette, in Chiswick in 2001 to the London-based group.

We have been many times to La Trompette which is a very affordable Michelin starred restaurant in a back street Chiswick ( London W4). Likewise the Glasshouse in Kew ( handily next to the tube station).

 

 

 

 

Côte de Boeuf
Côte de Boeuf
Red Mullet
Red Mullet
Cod
Cod

However this was our first visit to Chez Bruce, and I have to say that it lived up to it’s hype as far as food was concerned. BUT himself felt that the service let it down. One time he was fiddling with his wine glass, with maybe a soupçon of very quaffable wine left in it, when the waiter descended and said “shall I take that away?” and before himself could protest, away it was gone. Later on, after dessert, again the waiter came with a “Are you done with that?” not so much the words but the tone, and then the lights went on, bright lights, I was almost expecting the chairs to be put on the table ( we were not the last by any means).

 

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE DESSERT
TRIPLE CHOCOLATE DESSERT
ICE CREAM
ICE CREAM

But as I said, the food was very good indeed and you can judge for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today , we took a trip to Borough Market, which is by  London Bridge Tube/Railway Station. I really like going to this markets, but then I love markets. However, this has gone really upmarket in recent years and I have not been for a while and was really surprised by how much more upmarket it has become. There are in fact less market type stalls, many specialist food stalls, especially olive oil, and truffle olive oils. Not so many fruit and vegetable type stands anymore but oodles of food stands, anything from melted cheese to bratwurst with all the trimmings to vegetarian hamburgers to venison sausages to Thai curries to Japanese noodles, the list is endless. If you are ever in London and at a loose end then it is worth the visit. It is now open Wednesday through Saturday, with Saturday being the busiest day. If you want to shop then it is almost impossible as it is now really a “destination” place for ( on the whole) standing and eating. So trying to “shop with shopping trolley in tow, pushing past punters with plates of steaming Paella is near nigh impossible. Likewise on the other open days, avoid lunch times as again it is really busy.

the oil, vinegar and mustard stand
the oil, vinegar and mustard stand
mushroom season
mushroom season
just one of the butchers
just one of the butchers
sandwiches galore!
sandwiches galore!
saucissons french style
saucissons french style
Fishmonger
Fishmonger
Cakes and pastries
Cakes and pastries
The Hog roast
The Hog roast

London Calling

I am delaying the continuation of all things Mexican. There is so much to tell, but meanwhile back in London, there has also been a lot going on. This week, has seen us eating at the iconic restaurant that is known as the IVY as well as Côte in Islington, Quantus in Chiswick and Memories of China in Kensington.

So for starters, we had a house guest who had never been to the IVY, so we went. It belongs to Caprice holdings, which owns/runs many London restaurants, including La Caprice, Daphne’s, J. Sheekey, Annabels, Harrys Bar,  as well as Côte, Grillshack and Balthazar, and until recently Wentworth. All I can say is that the service in all of these establishments is impeccable, but not at all stuffy, friendly and professional.

The Ivy is the ultimate people watching venue, and we were lucky enough to be facing into the room ( himself faced the window/wall, poor thing). As far as I could see, there were no rich and famous to focus on, but some American business men with their escorts ( Indonesian and female) and some English, boy next door types, with their English escorts ( Dusty Springfield look alikes, have not seen backcombed Beehives in years).ivy menu

I and house guest ate the fois gras, which was divine,whilst himself had the steak tartare( raw meat to you and me), his disappointment was that he could not mix it himself. for mains  they chose the calf’s liver and bacon whilst I had the dressed Dorset crab , with a side portion of chips. The crab salad was lovely but I have to say that I had to send the chips back, if I am going to have chips ( which I shouldn’t) then they have to be perfect, and the first ones were on the soggy side and only luke warm. I have to say that 2nd time around, they were perfect, crisp and hot.

Fois Gras
Fois Gras

 

Liver and bacon
Liver and bacon

 

For dessert,Herself, chose the sticky toffee pudding, which she declared half way through, “I should not have, I can not finish it”, and himself had the frozen berries with hot white chocolate sauce. this is such a splendid pud and sooo easy to make. The Food at the Ivy would not be called fine dining, BUT the menu is very eclectic, that it is very hard to decide what to have, so much to choose from and then every two weeks they change some of the dishes out, so even if you are dreaming of the fish cakes, or fish pie, or the best hamburger, it might not just be on the menu when you get there. That just means you have to go again, and why not!

Côte I have written about previously, a good place to go for lunch with girlfriends, or breakfast with hubby, pre theatre, post theatre, the standard is consistent, the quality good, the service excellent and the price is right.There are now 47 Côte locations with 24 of them being in the London area, so if there is one near you, do check it out.

Onto, last night, I went to a wine tasting event held by Naked Wines.

Naked Wines is an online wine retailer  which launched in the UK on 1 December 2008 and founded by Rowan Gormley.

They fund independent winemakers from around the world, in return for exclusive wines at wholesale prices – and they currently ship wine throughout the UK, the USA and Australia.To get the best price from this company, you have to become an Angel. This costs only £20 a month and it remains you money, as every time you buy, the £20 is deducted from your bill. Some of the discounts are up 40-50% so well worth the investment. Anyway, I went with friends, tasted some excellent wines and then had dinner in a great Chinese restaurant called “Memories of China” This is Ken Lo’s restaurant which opened 30 years ago,  and although the food was good, I think it is probably a little jaded. With so many other restaurants in London, it will have to up it’s appeal as on a Saturday night it was fairly empty. Our waitress who was from Nepal, was charming.naked 1 naked 2

So if you like fine wine, from small independent producers, check out NAKED WINES> you will not be disappointed! Back to Mexico, next time!