Friday, 23 July 2010
Charlottes’s Place Restaurant, 16 Saint Matthew's Road London W5 3JT
Our good friends, A&D recently got engaged (woohoo!) and because we all love eating, we decided to celebrate with a meal and day out in the sunshine. They live near Ealing, and know the area better than us, so they chose the restaurant.
Now, firstly, how do I know I like a restaurant? Quite a few points, really.
a) Good food – ie non-fussy, reasonable portions, tasty nosh
b) Clean and relaxed atmosphere
c) Friendly staff (but hey, this is not a must, as long as the food is served, I’m not too bothered)
So, if I were to ever have a restaurant of my own, I’d like it to meet all the points above, much like Charlotte’s Place in Ealing.
We had a party of about 12 – 2 = 10, and even though the staff had laid out a huge table for us, they were still really nice to us even after we informed them of the last-minute reduction in diners. There are oh-too-many restaurants in London who throw tantrums over silly things like that, but I’m pleased to report that Charlotte’s Place is not one of them. Instead, they served us 2 bread boards, and took our order for Kir Royales.
Long table, with a sad, unused table right at the end.
What a fantastic little restaurant, so much natural light, lovely food. Oh I want one just like this.
Now, since we originally had a party of 12, my friend managed to negotiate with the restaurant to let us have a special 3-course set menu lunch for £15. I’m not sure what the usual deal is on weekend lunches, but this sounded great, and certainly worth the £15. My friend said that they can’t confirm what the menu will be beforehand because they buy the ingredients fresh daily and change the menu to reflect the produce of the day.
Before this, I’d heard of Kir Royale but had no clue what it was. In my mind, it was a drink consumed by perma-tanned, big-haired, shoulder-padded people, literally a scene out of Baywatch. In reality, it’s 1 part crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and 4 parts champagne. To put it simply, it’s like champagne with Ribena. I mean, does that sound awesome or does that sound awesome.
2 sips later, I was giggling like a manic, hungry, snappy-zappy girl on the loose. Good thing then that the food arrived pretty much pronto. So, since there were 12 – 2 = 10 of us, we pretty much tried every single thing on the menu. While we’re on that subject, to show how much Maths I didn’t take away with me from high school, here’s a question.
If there are 3 choices of each course, and 3 courses, how many combinations can you get from the menu? Answers at the end of the post.
Roast plum tomato soup
For a soup, that’s HOOOOOOOOGE!!! That makes me so happy, even though I didn’t order this for myself. The friend who had it certainly looked pleased with it, and from 2 seats away, my take on it was that it looked fresh, quite thick (like tomato-thick and not with yucky cream or something) and quite filling.
Mackerel fillet – horseradish cream – beetroot puree
The skin of the fish was perfectly fried to a dry crisp, retaining just enough moisture in the meat to allow the lovely, fishy flavour to come through. What intrigued me most about this dish (that was not mine again, yet I ate) was the little stack of (what I can only assume to be) horseradish cream in the middle. It tasted like crushed potatoes to me, with bits of mustard seed mixed in, so I’m not entirely sure what the horseradish cream was, or even if it was in the dish? Anyhow, not to detract from a really good dish, and it was really fabulous.
Chicken and duck terrine – walnut and raisin bread
Finally a dish that was actually mine. To further prove how I tend to liken everything to something, this tasted like lobak (Malaysian dish of meat in a roll). It wasn’t just me, the other person having this agreed, so it must be true. The chicken and duck slice was served cold, which allowed all the marinade and perfectly balanced taste to come through. Really enjoyed this dish, and I ate it a variety of ways.
- on its own
- the chutney on its own
- the bread on its own … you get the picture
The bread! Oh the bread! I mean how good was the bread??? Each piece was warm, sweet, and slightly sticky from the raisin being baked. Eaten with the salty and firm chicken and duck terrine, with the chutney, it just combined to make the perfect explosion of taste and texture.
I can taste this again …
Now bring on the main meal
Pork loin steak – Champ mash – French beans
Ohkay, another of my dishes. Possibly the best one of the three, because the risotto made you have black teeth, and the gnocchi’s just gnocchi, isn’t it.
The pork was really well-cooked. I mean, it’s not easy cooking pork anyway, because it has to be really cooked all the way through, and how on earth does one retain moisture and tenderness in a well-cooked-through piece of meat?
Don’t ask me, I’m not the one who cooked this, but whoever cooked this, knew what it took. The piece of pork was tender to the bite, and managed to retain the lovely sauce with each bite. The best bit of the dish was the mash, no contest. Whatever it was they put in in (cream, salt, pepper, mashy goodness) it made the mash one of the nicest I’ve had.
Calamari – Risotto nero – courgette
Deep fried squid – really tender, really fresh, but I would have liked it cut slightly thicker, just individual taste I guess. The risotto looked really good, partly because I’m not used to eating food that colour. Thing is, the taste didn’t quite live up to the looks, because while I imagined it to taste maybe slightly fishy (because this is a fishy dish) and because I imagined squid ink to taste fishy (well, you wouldn’t imagine anything else, would you?), we all kinda went … ‘oh’ … when we had a bite, and realised that it tasted just like any other risotto would.
Look at the stains it made on the plate. Yes, it made the same stains on teeth, lips, napkins, anything it touched, basically. It made for interesting smiles.
Absolutely loved lunch.
Bring on the desserts
Chocolate torte – Chantilly cream
If you could put chocolate and ONLY chocolate into a tart, how good would it taste? As good as this one! The chocolate filling was decadent, so absolutely rich and thick and smooth, can’t be any better.
Peach frangipane tart – Vanilla ice cream
Really, I mean, really, how can each course be so consistently good? I was kinda full by this point, but I didn’t let that stop me. Instead, I rolled up the sleeves, and put my fork to it with gusto. And boy oh boy was I delighted with this dish. The pastry was thin and crispy, really buttery and perfectly cooked. The fruit filling was just al dante and with the perfect amount of tart vs sweet, balanced by the sprinkling of icing sugar to make it look pretty. Ice-cream was good, and possibly made by the restaurant, but I was too enthralled by the tart to enjoy the ice cream much.
Sparkenhoe Red Leicester cheese – Oatcakes
This might be the only dish that I don’t have much to say about, because it’s cheese and biscuit. Good, though I can’t go on and on about it, like I did with the others.
Would I recommend it? I would shout out my recommendation about it, that’s how much I would recommend it. We enjoyed the lunch so much, I would definitely go back to try out the other dishes they have (menu changes depending on what they buy) and for the price, you couldn’t really ask for more.
Answer to the question above: 27 (I would guess …)
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