Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Brasserie Zédel: Paris comes to London

If you love Paris and classic French brasserie food, then you will love Brasserie Zédel. You'd need to really, as it's practically a Parisian theme park. It's certainly right up my street (or boulevard) and, given how busy it was when we visited recently one Friday evening, it's clearly a crowd pleaser.

I'm sure the location helps Zédel's popularity, being seconds away from Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square in the basement of the Regent Palace Hotel, the same premises of the old The Atlantic Bar and Grill. The main restaurant is big and buzzy in a grand fin de siècle style and there is a more chic and intimate art deco Bar Américain for cocktails. Brasserie Zédel opened in 2012 courtesy of Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, the slick team behind The Wolseley, The Delaunay and now also Colbert on the old Oriel site in Sloane Square.

As we hadn't booked, we had to wait a while for a table, but, once seated, we were immediately impressed by the quality of the food and service. Given the enormous scale of the place, this is quite an achievement. We really enjoyed our starters – spinach tart (£4.25) and egg mayonnaise (£3.25). The tart had a beautifully thin, crisp crust and the eggs ticked all the right retro boxes. My husband enjoyed his seafood with saffron sauce main course (Friday's dish of the day, £12.75) and my hanger steak with shallots and red wine sauce was particularly good (£10.95 including fries). We finished by sharing some nougat glacé which had an interesting, seasonal garnish of poached cranberries (£3.95). This was all great value for money – especially the steak. Presumably prices need to be reasonable to keep pulling in the punters. It's a huge space to fill. Wine isn't such an obvious bargain, but, helpfully, all but two of the 28 bottles on the nicely edited French list are also available by the glass and carafe. What's more, there are some keenly priced quirky French apéritifs including one my favourites, Pineau des Charentes.

Une très bonne adresse!

Brasserie Zédel
20 Sherwood Street
020 7734 4888

Brasserie Zedel on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Friday, 18 January 2013

Mont Blanc: the most glamorous winter dessert

Here in London this morning the snow is falling – it's been threatening all week, but this feels like the real deal. It's settling and everywhere is looking Christmas card gorgeous. 

Over Christmas I couldn't resist making one of my favourite wintery desserts – Mont Blanc. I originally tasted a Mont Blanc at Angelina's in Paris and mine were based on their take on this classic, topped with chestnut purée, rather than Chantilly cream. I'd made a batch of meringue nests with some left-over egg whites, so it was easy to quickly assemble the Mont Blancs. I gently whipped some double cream and lightly sweetened it with icing sugar before plopping it onto the meringue. Similarly with the canned chestnut purée – it needed sweetening and beating lightly before being piped over the cream. I finished them off with some chopped marrons glacés, a dusting of icing sugar and, for a bit of festive glamour, some gold leaf. 

With our Mont Blancs we had some Vin Santo – the tangy, raisiny sweetness worked well with such a rich, luxurious dessert. However, next time I'd love to try it with some ice wine...