20 Sherwood Street
Tel: 020 7734 4888
I have visited Brasserie Zedel many times since it opened and I can truly say I’m smitten with it. The staff are delightful, courteous, and efficient in an old school way. That is if you ask for something it will be done without having to ask twice. You are greeted like an old friend at the reception (it is advisable to book). If you are meeting someone then there are newspapers on offer to fill your time as you wait. We arrived early so were gracefully ensconced at the bar for ten minutes. Enough time for a customized non-alcoholic drink for M involving berries and a perfect Old Fashioned for me.
The entrance to Brasserie Zedel is curious, it doesn’t seem like much, you walk through a tiny cafe area then descend from street level a couple of floors, but as you enter the large lobby area things start to look quite a bit grander. On entering the restaurant it is hard to believe such an enormous room is underground. Reminiscent of Paris’ Cafe de la Paix it has grand pillars, gilt and style in even proportions. It is stunning room that always impresses me.
Our visit was in the evening, which means that there was entertainment in the form of a jazz band. We ate as Man Overboard tinkled the ivories and the female singer crooned the classics. This beautiful Art Deco room’s personality positively oozes chic.
There is a good choice of starters here, we had a few; Dijon shredded carrot, leek and Gruyère tart which was excellent with thin crisp buttery pastry, pressed ham and chicken terrine and steak tartare. The portions are very manageable, M enjoyed her first try at steak tatare, which was very good and not too pickle dependent. The stars for me were the tart and the terrine, which was tasty, rich and perfectly seasoned.
I could watch the staff all day (I must confess I’ve had a few long lunches here so I have watched them all afternoon) as they effortlessly hover around the vast room. Theirs is a job of dedication and professionalism that is a pleasure to see them execute.
The mains or entrées as I should correctly call them are typically French. Divided into luxe, fish, choucroute, roasts and grills it took a while to consider everything. But eventually we settled with M having sea bass fillet with crushed potatoes and pousse spinach.
The fish was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of give in the flesh. My herb-crusted rack of lamb with Provencal courgettes was a belter. Pink and so tasty I didn’t want them to finish. The courgettes provided a more balanced foil to the meat. Left to my own devices I would have chosen Dauphinoise potatoes which although would have been lovely it would not have let the meat shine. And shine it did. This was one of the best racks I’ve tasted in a long time.
M was feeling the pace so opted out of the next course, which was inevitably cheese. They only serve four cheeses so I tried them all. The aged Gruyère was wonderful and nutty and the others presented themselves splendidly with the Fourme d’Ambet shining as well.
Rested and enjoying the music M had already spotted her number one desert island of desserts – tart tatin. So it was duly ordered. It is for two so I didn’t have any choice really. It takes a little time to cook so we sat back and enjoyed the band who, were on great form. The joy of Zedel is that a band can play and the room is cavernous so aren’t too loud.
The moment came and we were presented with a very large (family sized I’d say) dish. It was sweet and tart with the pastry gooey with all the sugar and apple juice. In short a complete winner that should be tried by all diners at some time.
It is quite hard in my position not to sound too gushy about Zedel but in my heart I am. It is the perfect French brasserie that always delivers and has never disappointed. The tables are the right size the banquettes (there is a square within a square arrangement in play) are very comfortable. The bar is very long and should you like you can eat there if you wish. The feeling of being on an ocean liner without the swaying (depending of course how many of the delicious cocktails you have consumed) provides that touch of luxury we can all do with every once in a while.
It’s not expensive to have a glamorous time at Zedel and there’s a fair amount of glamour on show. We saw a very famous soap actress two tables away drinking what else but Champagne. On my last visit I witnessed a very well known bearded comedian (without his father) chewing the cud with a companion. In fact on any given day if you look carefully you will find fame and fortune, if not in the seat next to you then certainly on the your plate. Oh dear, I seem to be guilty of gushing, sorry about that I just can’t help it where Brasserie Zedel is concerned.