Café du Jardin
the heart of London's Covent
When eating out in France set menus
are a regular feature in the majority
of restaurants and they offer an affordable
alternative to the a la carte. Here,
the concept has gradually caught on and this can only be a good thing as we
know how expensive London can be! Le Café du Jardin is situated in the heart
of Covent Garden, hence its name. A stone's throw from the Royal Opera House
and numerous West End theatres it is an ideally situated place to pop into
for a tranche of all things Gallic. As well as an a la carte menu it offers
priced set menu at lunch or for a bite pre/post theatre trip, whilst on Sundays
it is available from noon to 11pm.
The restaurant's interior is
light and airy, with windows on all sides. It is a small and intimate space
which I could imagine would be very cosy on a dark winters evening with its
burgundy chairs and starched linen cloths offering an inviting atmosphere,
my only grumble would be that if it was busy it could seem a little cramped
as the tables are a little on the small side and spaced quite close together.
I began with a very substantial
deep fried crab cake served with spring onion risotto, tomato relish and
chilli oil. It had a tender and crisp exterior whilst having a very spicy
interior - piquant - with plenty of fresh coriander to kick the taste buds
into gear - the risotto added a good contrast to the lively flavours on the
plate. My guest commented that his pan fried scallops with white truffle
mashed potatoes, balsamic vinegar and a tomato and coriander dressing were
cooked perfectly. He also loved the presentation which was visually stunning,
and he thought it was a perfect size for a starter.
The wine list is predominately
European with an accent on France, although there is a varied selection of
wines from across both the old and new world. We tried a white burgundy,
St. Veran (Joseph Drouhin), so different from the type of wine I usually
order and confirmed that fact that I actually do like French Chardonnay -
when its not too oily and buttery - this one wasn't!
To follow I tried the baked halibut
with paw paw salsa and sautéed polenta. This was a dish of clean, individual
tastes, all very inviting, the polenta particularly crispy and comforting
to eat. My guest’s crayfish risotto with caramelised red onions and soft
herbs, although being visually stunning and plentiful was incredibly rich
and rather unexpectedly sweet - apparently this was due to the intense flavour
of the red onions.
The majority of people eating
at lunchtime with us were business types entertaining clients and I would
say this is a perfect place for them. A professional set up with authentic
cooking and attentive, knowledgeable staff all served up in a central location.
Louise Elgin. September 2006.
Le Café Du Jardin 28 Wellington
Street London WC2 Tel: 020 7836 8769