I'd taken this all in, watched and waited.......and, just before Christmas with my incredibly ill-timed birthday fast approaching, when the GF asked where I wanted to go, her treat.....lunch at Le Cafe Anglais was my response.
Making our way to the upper level in Bayswater's rather lovely Whiteley's shopping center, where "LCA" is located, and entering the restaurant for the first time...I couldn't help but be instantly charmed with the fabulous Art Deco interior. It's a favourite period of mine when it comes to interior-design and LCA is without a doubt drop dead gorgeous. It's grand, sweeping, high ceilinged, beautifully light and airy with huge windows lining one side of the dining room. It's a looker and almost impossible to believe that this space once hosted a McDonalds.
Taking our seats and admiring the bustling and packed restaurant, we studied the menu - which is interesting as the Hors D'Oeuvres section is unusual and has been much discussed among food bloggers. Deciding to order a selection, we went for a now famous Parmesan custard and Anchovy toast each, some Salsify fritters and on the waiters recommendation, oyster fritters which came with a Thai dipping sauce.
Our order came quickly, our table quickly filling with small plates... But I really only had eyes for the Parmesan custard and anchovy toast...I've heard it talked about so often, and couldn't wait to try it. Dipping a toast into the rich Parmesan custard and taking a bite....well, there's much talk about the savoury taste 'umami' - this dish has it in spades. Rich, seriously cheesy and seriously fishy, It's unusual that's for sure, but it works and it's very moreish.
The salsify fritters on the other hand, to me at least were pretty tasteless, despite the batter being lovely and crisp, the proffered mayonnaise seemingly overwhelming any flavour they had completely.
The Oyster Fritters were much more successful, the same beautifully crisp batter surrounding a meaty oyster, with the thai dipping sauce pungent with lemongrass working well. I liked these a lot.
Onto the Mains, and I decided to order Partridge Choucroute, with Franks, Ventreche and Morteau. (Save you Googling it - I had to.....'Ventreche' being French unsmoked Bacon, and 'Morteau' - a type of smoked sausage from the Morteau region of France). The GF went for Chicken Leg from the rotisserie, which came with wild mushrooms and a side order of Gratin Dauphinois.
To Drink, on the sommeliers advice we ordered a bottle of Austrian Nittnaus Pinot Noir 2004 Burgenland, Chicken and Partridge being somewhat challenging to match within one bottle. It was pretty nice, easily drinkable - I liked it and it did seem to go extremely well with the dishes we ordered.
My Partridge arrived, and straight away I must confess to being something of a game novice. It's the first time I've eaten Partridge...and If I'm honest, I didn't dislike it....but I didn't like it that much either. The plate of food was heavy, the partridge quite dry... It was OK, but I felt like I'd made a bad choice from the menu, especially eyeing some of the dishes waiters were floating past to other tables. I hold my hands up, I have no comparison to make, as it's not something I've eaten before....it could have been the best Partridge this side of Europe...but it just didn't do it for me I'm afraid.
The GF's plate of Chicken and Mushroom was more successful, and incredibly cheap - chicken legs being one of the tastier but less appreciated parts of the bird. Although once again, I got the distinct impression from the GF that she wished she'd chosen a bit more wisely.
Plates whisked away, and the GF declining a dessert - I went for a 'Queen of Puddings' - a very traditional British lemon and raspberry flavoured jam dessert topped with meringue. All I can say about this is, it was gorgeous. No complaints at all.
Paying up and leaving the beautiful Le Cafe Anglais dining room behind, I thought about the meal I'd just ate. The Hors D'Oeuvres were fantastic, the Parmesan custard - anchovy toast dish in particular living upto its star billing. The mains - not so great. But I think the lack of main course enjoyment had a lot more to do with bad menu decisions on mine and the GF's part, than badly executed food. The Dessert I had, as previously mentioned - lovely.
I would like to go back and try again.....give LCA another go. It certainly is a beautiful restaurant and a real experience. It's just feels like a personal disappointment as I was so looking forward to this and I wanted to love it. But, on this occasion, sadly my main just didn't work out for me. Next time hopefully, I will be a bit more fortuitous with my menu selection!
Le Café Anglais
8 Porchester Gardens
tel: 020 7221 1415