Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Charlotte’s Place (2nd review), 16 St Matthew's Road, Ealing, London, W5 3JT
Our good friends D&A recently officially registered their marriage (congrats!), and as a celebration, decided to treat us all to a lovely lunch at Charlotte's Place.
My first review of this restaurant was when we had their engagement party here, so you can tell we all really, really like Charlotte.
I almost feel bad calling this a restaurant, because the two times we've been here, we've literally taken up the whole of the ground floor dining area, had too much good food, and made so much noise that it felt as though we were at a good friend's place having a nice meal.
What I really like about this place, aside from the faultless food, is the bright, airy interior which not only makes food pictures look good, but also makes it feel as though it were nice and warm outside (which it is not).
The glass windows let plenty of light in, and also allows you to admire the lovely surroundings while feeling warm, snug, and quite full.
Even the waiting staff are nice, what more could you want?
The restaurant had made special effort that day to create a personalised menu for my friend, and even printed their names on the menu card, complete with placecards and all.
As I've not dined a la carte here before, I'm not sure if they have a menu which has a list of 'permanent' dishes like other restaurants. The first time we came here, we had the set menu which changes daily depending on what the chef buys that day from the markets. This time we had a similar set menu as well, and with prices ranging from £12 (2 courses) to £15 (3 courses), I've not found another place in London which provides that much good quality food for such a reasonable price.
The Christmas cracker's present of a little bowling set. Cute.
Tomato and basil soup with croutons
I don't usually order tomato soup in restaurants because I figured I get enough of that anyway from tins, cans, and sometimes the canteen. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised when the fiance ordered this and I took a spoonful - it was really rich and smooth, actually. They must have used a lot of tomatoes to get it that thick and that flavourful. Whatever they did, they did a good job of it.
Potato and pancetta frittata with herb salad
My friend who had this said that the texture was wonderful - slightly firm to the touch while remaining tender when eaten. Should've tried a bit of that.
Potted salmon with creme fraiche and dill
My starter, which was awesome. The texture of the salmon was really nice, almost like smoked salmon in that it was slightly chewy, yet not flakey like cooked salmon. The dill added a nice, zesty little twist to the dish, and managed to cut through the creaminess of the salmon just fine.
The bread that came with it was really nice with the butter too. Something about restaurant bread that I like.
Venison pie with green beans
How huge is this pie!?! Someone got decorative with the beans while waiting for all the mains to be served. I tried a bit of the meat - nice and tender. The pie crust, too, was really flakey and each crumbley mouthful left you wanting more.
Mushroom and thyme risotto with pecorino cheese
Don't know much about how this was as I didn't have it, but it looked good. The people who ordered it finished most of it too, which usually means it tastes OK.
Haddock with crushed new potatoes, broccoli, beurre blanc
I know it looks slightly browner than it should be, but that produced one of the crispiest crusts I've had the pleasure of tasting on a fish. Not only did it crisp and crackle as I bit into it, it remained moist and flavourful inside. Fried to perfection, each mouthful was just the right balance of tender fish without any of the grease usually found with fried fish.
The mash was another guilty pleasure, one that I took a few bites of and managed to leave the rest untouched on the plate - not because it wasn't delicious (as it was) but because I was leaving some room for dessert.
Lemon posset with shortbread
Literally the best lemon posset I've ever had. Can't even begin to describe it but I'll try. When it first arrived, I looked at it with some scepticism - it appeared kinda dry, and the surface was matt with the shortbread resting comfily on top of it. Then I gently put my spoon in the posset, and scooped up a creamy little bit of the thick, yellow, citrusy pudding. It was a melt-in-the-mouth moment, with the pud being so thick and creamy that I had to wash each mouthful down with some water. The cream was perfectly balanced by the lemon zest, and despite telling myself I couldn't really finish more than half of it, I couldn't stop going for more. It was fabulous.
Selection of artisan cheeses with oatcakes
I had a bit of this, but cheese is cheese hey?
They had this beautiful cake from Valerie to celebrate the occasion, and it was a lovely chocolate sponge filled with cream banana, melon, kiwi and other fruits.
Another pic of the bride's bouquet on the day - absolutely beautiful.
The cake which I took more pictures of than mouthfuls. I was so full by then that try as hard as I did, I couldn't eat anymore.
And to rival the beautiful bouquet, some handmade flowers from the Christmas cracker (it was the hats made into flowers).
While the others had coffee, I had some peppermint tea to try and speed up the digestion process - we had more food to eat in the evening so efficiency matters.
And to round it all off, a picture of the green mint leaves in the teapot.
I really enjoyed the meal, and it wasn't only the food that made it good but the excellent company and most of all, the beautiful bride and groom who treated us all to this lovely meal. Here's wishing you all the best you two!