I spent a year in Bordeaux as a student and it was only then that I truly began to understand the love affair that France has with its food.
I still maintain it’s the best food in the world and so was rather pleased at the prospect of being taken to Le Vacherin, a most elegant establishment that just screams ‘French’, in fashionable and prosperous Chiswick.
Despite it being a Monday night, notoriously quiet in the restaurant world, smart waiting staff were gliding effortlessly from table to table in a packed arena.
I was provided with a thoughtful wine list, (have you noticed how sloppy many restaurants are in the wine department) and a seductive prix fixe menu, the food from which was all served on immaculate linen wear.
Tap water was served in a silver jug, along with some warm bread that was accompanied by some delicious anchovy butter. That’s another beef I have; restaurants that are supposedly upmarket serving bad bread. What a lazy bunch of idiots. This, by contrast was bread heaven. I could have happily scoffed half a loaf.
To the menu. As soon as I saw the words mackerel tartare I looked no further. My friend chose the fig and goat’s curd salad with honey glazed pecans and for the main, wild mushroom ravioli and I fancied a rare peppercorn steak served with pommes allumettes.
As I was the only one drinking (God love my pals for driving so I can indulge) I decided on a glass of Chardonnay for the starter and a Malbec for the main.
The delicate mackerel dish, although a tiny bit mean, was spankingly fresh, beautifully balanced and a joy to eat. The fig and goat’s cheese salad was as delightful in the mouth as it was to look at.. The French somehow always know how to dress a salad without drowning it or overwhelming it with acidity.
The steak, cloaked in a shiny, inviting sauce, was devoured with unlady like speed. Rare, soft and a carnivore’s dream. The ravioli, sitting in a pool of buttery yellow loveliness was consumed with equal voracity.
It’s such a delight to sit in elegant surroundings, be served by pleasant people, eat food that is just bloody good and doesn’t cost the earth. Speaking of which, this includes the cost of the wine which was £5 for a glass.
Two courses tonight cost £28.50 per person and was worth every blooming sous. Chapeau bas.