LE CAFÉ ANGLAIS: A WALK IN THE PARK
Right. So what can I have a whinge about today eh? Nothing really. I just wanted to reiterate why I think lunch, particularly the Saturday variety, is my favourite time to eat food. And get slowly sozzled. The atmosphere is more relaxed and you can usually spin it out for a good few hours (unless you’re at The River Café, that is, which tries to cram ‘em in). Which is what I did the other day at Le Café Anglais.
Specifically, my visit was to check out LCA’s new Oyster Bar. They’ve taken out a big wodge of seating and put in an oval bar and some small tables, presumably to encourage people to come in for breakfast, a snack, whatever. To be honest the Oyster bar lacks the impact of, say, a Bentley’s or a J Sheekey’s. There’s a chef behind the counter prepping the cold dishes and opening the Oysters but it could do with a display of the shellfishy treats and a dedicated Oyster opener.
The restaurant itself seems a bit adrift in a mall that has seen better days and was never more than half full during the time I was there. Still, that’s not something to bother moi and the atmosphere was pleasantly relaxed – which pretty much suits a Saturday lunch.
(Incidentally, there were plenty of families when I was there but in every case the children were sitting down and sharing a meal with their parents, NOT left to wander off and amuse themselves whilst Mummy and Daddy had a drink. Tellingly, I don’t think these families were English).
Once the Native Oyster season has arrived I always think of it as my duty as a good Brit to eat as many of these great bivalves as I can. A dozen Maldon Natives hit the spot although I never seem to get as much liquor with this variety as with others. Kumamotos were very briny with a long lasting taste but maybe not as subtle as the natives. Maldon Rocks were a little disappointing and very watery. No matter, there was more to come.
Dill Herrings, a brief Madeleine moment of my Summer trip to Stockholm, had a sympathetic cure for the fish although seeing the rye bread taken from packets of the same brand that I buy from Waitrose was a bit of a let down (decent though it is).
The food monster within me had been now aroused and it had to be fed. Skirt Steak (Bavette) came as four bloody chunks and was full of good beefy flavour. A Béarnaise was textbook as were a bowl of hot, crisp frites.
Three scoops of Ice Cream were excellent and what a nice change it was to have real Ice Cream instead of gelato which seems to be so ubiquitous and popular in London these days. I also got a wafer which is always a bonus (such is the paucity of excitement in my life these days).
As a coda chatting to the friendly staff whilst working my way through a half bottle of Jura was pretty good as codas go. As was a stroll through Kensington Gardens in the light of the fading Winter sun. Not to get too maudlin on your collective asses but if this was my last day on Earth it wouldn’t be a bad one as last days go. As a Saturday it would be difficult to better.