I'm not an early adopter. I can't be bothered rushing to get ahead of the pack or queuing to get into the latest restaurant or bar. I'd rather sit back and wait until a place is a bit more established and the hordes have moved on to the next big thing. But I do read restaurant reviews eagerly and make a mental note of places to try at some point.
|Lovely woven napkins|
There have been a lot of reviews of Brasserie Zedel lately. They've generally been favourable if a bit lukewarm - "really very good for what it was", "the menu reads like a 1950s cookbook", "at these prices it's churlish to complain", "a soapy wallow in all the things we adore about French bourgeois ideals" - but the descriptions of lavish decor and cheap, classic French food was enough to intrigue me. When a friend said she was going to be in London one Saturday and could we have lunch, it seemed like a good place to head for even though it is new and shiny and being talked about a lot.
|Steak haché - that's a hamburger to you & me|
I had an appointment with my hairdresser which made me very, very late for lunch. Very late. So late that they had to leave the bar they were waiting for me in and get a snack of soup dumplings to tide them over. It was about 4pm when we eventually walked into the mammoth marble and brass hall that is the main part of Brasserie Zedel. And obviously most people have finished lunch and aren't thinking about dinner at that sort of time, so there were very few other people eating.
Since my friends had just been eating xiao long bao, they weren't ravenous. I was hungry, but also aware that Paul was at home and expecting me to have dinner with him in not-many-hours. We skipped starters and went straight to mains. Very boringly, we all ordered the steak haché - a patty of minced steak, with a peppercorn sauce and French fries. When it came out I had a moment of confusion, wondering why they'd garnished with a scattering of lentils. But of course they aren't, they are green peppercorns. It was very good, somehow managing to taste steakier than an average minced meat burger.
I don't understand why a place like Zedel can offer the steak haché cooked rare or medium, and so many other places will only serve a burger well-done "because of health and safety". I think it just means those other places are lazy and their meat isn't fresh. Anyway - mine was medium rare and delicious and did me no harm.
The fries were thin, crisp, greaseless and perfect. They came in a paper cone, standing in a silver torch-shaped arrangement.
|Loved the silver fries holder.|
For dessert, I ordered the Peach Melba. The waiter said something about it being a good choice because it's a classic dessert, which struck me as odd when the menu also contained Ile flottante, Savarin aux fruits et rhum and Gâteau Opéra. All the desserts, in fact, are classics. This wasn't the best peach melba I have had. The whole dish was too cold, the icecream was a bit crystalline and I have the faintest suspicion that it was a tinned peach. Still, it wasn't the worst I have had either.
All the reviews were right about the prices - 2 courses each, and a bottle of wine shared between 4 of us, and it came to £18 a head. That really is very good for central London. We weren't deliberately choosing the cheap stuff either, we could have got it lower than that if we tried.
I think pretty soon Brasserie Zedel will be established as a reliable place to take the family when you are having a day out in London. And I think it'll do very well for business lunches. It's definitely one to keep in mind if you are in the area - partly because it has the nicest loos I've seen in a London restaurant, and access to decent loos is priceless, in my opinion.