Le Café Anglais

Having lunch with 16 or so other food critics is an interesting way to not enjoy a restaurant.  There was nothing wrong with the company, everybody was jolly enough and expectations were high.  The principle was fine – we all go and eat the same food then write 500 words about it afterwards.  No problem with that you say, well there was – we all had the same food.  Nothing to covet at all, all plates were the same although they didn’t all arrive at the same time, just one of the problems with this lunch.

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

About Neil

Neil is a food and travel writer and photographer based in London, UK. He's Food & Travel Editor at Families Magazine, as well as a full-time blogger on this site. Impressed? Then you might like to hire his services.

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