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Leon de Bruxelles – London

29 May

This french chain opened up pretty recently in London, it’s known in Paris for it’s mussels (cooked and flavoured every which way) and it’s new location at Cambridge Circus must have been pretty calculated as the only other restaurant I can think of in London that specialises in mussels is a mere stone’s throw away from this new competitor (i’m speaking of Belgo of course).

So, does Leon cut it?

Well, first of all there are a few things that are of worth to note.

* Leon is part of Taste London – so if you have a tastecard you can get 50% off your food bill, pretty good going as the pots of mussels are around £14 a pop.

* They give you unlimited ‘fries’ with mussels – this is great, however these are by no means fries, they are FAT chips. Now I don’t know about you, but I like fries to be skinny.

* They serve bread (obviously good that this is a bonus and free) however it isn’t nice crusty french bread that is all fluffy on the inside, it is a sort of baguette that’s a bit tough to chew and doesn’t have the flavour of french bread, more like cold ciabatta AND they don’t serve it with butter (!!!!!!)

So, as you can see there are pros and cons. The setting was lovely, it was a hot evening and you can sit outside, (although you can only reserve for inside) it’s set back from the road enough for the traffic not to be a nuisance too.

The service was good, a little slow at times, like when asking for a sauce or another drink etc, but on the whole they were ok.

So crunch time…the mussels themselves. I chose the Leon de Bruxelles mussels – their signature recipe (in a sauce of white wine & creme fraiche with celery and shallots) The sauce was really nice, it was flavoursome and there was only the hint of the celery taste that complemented the sauce well. However, the mussels themselves were quite small and although perfectly acceptable, they weren’t fresh and really big, meaty and orange. Big portion though!

 

Leon de Bruxelles Mussels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread & ‘Fries’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve grown up waitressing at restaurants that served mussels as standard and they were huge and fresh and tasted absolutely delectable. So, while I think Leon’s pretty good, it definitely isn’t on a par with beachside pubs and local eateries that get their ‘moules frites’ down to a tee.

Overall it’s pretty good, something a bit different and the setting is nice but you can do better.

Rate: 3

Leon de Bruxelles

24 Cambridge Circus, London, WC2H 8AA

020 7836 3500

http://www.leon-de-brussels.co.uk/

 

 
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Gauthier

16 May

I was lucky enough to be taken to one of the private dining rooms this Michelin starred restaurant has to offer. In the heart of Soho, this townhouse is old time, quaint and the courses just kept on coming!

5 courses and many amuse bouche tasters, there were definitely some clear highlights. The bread basket and the beetroot butter were absolutely deelish and the ‘tomarrto tarrteelet’ (spoken just like the waiter) were the best of the beginning.

Tomato Tartlets & Gruyere Puffs

Olive Focaccia Bread

Bread Basket

(left to right) Beetroot Butter, Seaweed Butter & Lard

 

Starter: Grilled Scottish Scallops (Fricasee of Broad Beans & Girolles, Sauce Vierge)

The Morel Risotto (2nd course, after starters) was rich and creamy, so good! The salmon was cooked amazingly well, however the asparagus that accompanied it was a little mushy.

Morel Risotto (Veal Jus & Parmesan Reggiano)

Wild Salmon Slowly Cooked in Butter Milk (White Asparagus & Hazelnut, Fish Sauce)

A king of a dessert (literally) described by the staff as ‘a fancy kit kat’ was that and so much more, rich but not too much, oozing, but not too much, crispy, but not too much and gluttonous (but not too much!)

Golden Louis XV (Crunchy Praline)

Petit Fours (Dark Chocolate Truffle, Turkish Delight, Rosewater Marshmallow)

Rate: 4(.2)

Gauthier Soho

21 Romilly Street  London W1D 5AF

020 7494 3111

http://gauthiersoho.co.uk/
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Côte

14 May

This weekend we took a visit to a tried and tested old favourite…Cote. This chain of delicious, cosy french bistros never fails to impress me. We went to the one at Hays Galleria and the setting is just magical. Right on the river, with a tremendous view of Tower Bridge and the rest of the London skyline. However, there are so many locations to choose from and it also does a great pre-theatre menu.

I had the grilled prawns to start with, these were succulent and dripping with garlic butter…absolutely deelish! The fillet steak with Bearnaise Sauce followed, which was so soft and the accompanying fries were amazing. To top it off I had my favourite dessert there. Iced berries with hot white chocolate sauce. I love this so much I’ve even started making it at home! So easy and simple and you don’t feel as naughty having this (it’s one of my five a day right?)

Rate: 4

Grilled Prawns

Fillet Steak

Iced berries with hot white chocolate sauce

Cote

Various locations

http://www.cote-restaurants.co.uk/

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