The definition of a neighbourhood restaurant really depends on where you live I suppose. If you live in the country the chances are that to get to your choice of restaurant you’ll have to either jump in the car or get a cab. In London, you may be lucky enough to be able to walk to it just go a couple of tube stops. Well I can walk to Chez Bruce, so that is my neighbourhood restaurant. There are obviously restaurants closer to my house, but I’m not that keen on Chicken Cottage (although my brother took a girl there on their first date. They’re now married. So you know.), but CB is special for our family and it’s not just to do with the food.
I should clarify at this point that this is not, and is not intended to be, a restaurant review. Many other people have done a far better job of that, and anyway, I’m a ‘sure thing’. I have a deep and undying love for CB. Mr Poole could serve up fish fingers, chips and beans and I would relish it as I would the finest gourmet meal (because let’s face it probably would be the finest gourmet meal). However the connection for me is as emotional as geographic. This was my mother’s favourite restaurant, one that she generously took me to one more than one occasion, and where we always celebrated her birthday.
After she died we (well Dad actually) decided that we would not remember the sad times, and that we would remember, and celebrate the good times. Henceforth, on her birthday or thereabouts we have a family lunch at Chez Bruce. A win-win situation I think you’ll agree?
So on Thursday 2 April we converged on Wandsworth Common…..trying not to drool in anticipation. We kicked off with a glass of champagne whilst deliberating the menu. The service is unobtrusive, yet attentive (this is the place where, suffering from a heavy cold, a box of tissues, appeared at my elbow, as if by magic), and they don’t stick their noses in every five minutes.
Always the hardest part for me. What to choose? And will I get food envy (inevitably yes, regardless of how delicious my own choice is). I, after much deliberation, went for:
Poached lamb’s tongue with breast St Meinhold, crushed jersey royals and morels
I was slightly off put by my brother going ‘baa’ softly in my ear but other than that minor distraction I managed to polish it off. Lots of different textures from the soft lamb’s tongue to the crispy brick of lamb breast. I think I may have had to get extra bread, you know, just to mop up some of the sticky, unctuous sauce as well. Yum.
My second course was Anjou pigeon with stuffed onion, pearl barley, sauce poivrade and foie gras.
Unfortunately is looks very brown here and this doesn’t do it any justice at all. The pigeon was perfectly pink, the pearl barley filled the onion. Posh comfort food.
And for pudding…….please note, that honeycomb do not come from bees (as my brother thought. He’s 43).
And they gave us these:
*Ahem*. Here I make a public apology to Olivia and Isabella – sorry, James and Poppa ate them. Not me. Honest.
Despite the obvious deliciousness of the food, we come to CB each year to remember with joy the good times past (as well as creating some new ones too). And they never fail to deliver. Thank you Mr Poole.