Le Café Anglais is a great place to take a maiden aunt – she will be impressed by the Deco revivalist décor the reliable but unadventurous food and the friendly smart waiting staff. I bet by the end you’d like it just because your maiden aunt did and all would be tickety-boo on the family front. Should you happen to go with somebody else then I suggest going in the evening – it might have more of an atmosphere. Our visit was at Saturday lunchtime the restaurant is attached to the busy Whitely’s shopping centre. Why was it less than a quarter full (including us?). Was it the food? We had a mixture of Hors d’Oeuvres some worked well but as a whole they lacked cohesion. The Parmesan Custard and Anchovy Toast was a real high point. The Custard served in a pot and the dry crunchy Anchovy Toast to dip in it worked very well, the contradiction of textures sealed it as a winner and it was totally moreish. There was a Raw Tuna with Ginger Dressing and although the Dressing had a bit too much Ginger it tasted fresh, vibrant and left a pleasant note on the tongue. Aubergine ‘Imam Bayildi’ left no lasting impression and I felt was quite bland. The Kipper Pate with Soft Boiled Egg was good but lacked punch and the Egg was cold – maybe it was meant to be, I would rather have had a hot one. Our main was Steamed Hake with Shrimps and Garam Masala. This arrived on a bed of Spinach with rice in a separate dish. The Hake was just ever so slightly over done and the Spinach was far too watery and the whole plate lacked seasoning. The rice was excellent. We had a service problem at this point – not all the mains came out at the same time leaving an embarrassing couple of minutes for the ‘forgotten’ ones to be remembered. Dessert was a Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Gariguette Strawberries. This was very nearly good, the Panna Cotta was more of a heavy mouse than set Italian Cream and sadly the Strawberries were very cold, so much so that they hurt my albeit sensitive gnashers.
Go again? Maybe? With a maiden aunt, yes absolutely. With friends whom I love and trust? Well, only if it wasn’t my idea.
8 Porchester Gardens
London W2 4DB
Tel: 020 7221 1415