Blai and I had a little occasion to treat ourselves the other weekend and of course, we took it. After a few days of scouring restaurant review websites, I settled on Le Vacherin in Chiswick – a restaurant within the budget I’d selected, not too far from where we live, and one with terrific reviews.
It’s pretty obvious why the first criterion existed; if you haven’t guessed already, we’re far from rich, folks. As for the second criterion, nothing ruins a lovely night out (a rare occasion for us!) faster than a terrible trip on the tube home; a quick and easy bus ride is surely preferable. As for the last, well, that’s tied to the first – when every penny counts, you don’t want to waste it on rubbish food! While there’s always the desire to try new restaurants, especially in London where new ones pop out one every second it seems, there’s a high risk of having just not-that-great a dinner. Best to do my research instead and guarantee a fantastic meal.
Enough about my penny-pinching! I had booked a table for 7pm on a Sunday night and unsurprisingly, we were the first people there. The place was full by the time we left at about 10pm though.
I started with the warm salad of hand dived scallops, black pudding and Ayrshire bacon. This was a bed of dressed lettuce leaves topped with four tender scallops (four! wow!), two long streaky strips of bacon and a lump, for that is what it was, of squidgy and flavoursome black pudding. Blai had the cocotte of egg with smoked haddock in a mustard sauce. The egg came in a tiny little cocotte while the saucy haddock (ha!) came in a tumbler beside it with a long spoon. Both delicious and the haddock was actually available as a main course too.
I persuaded Blai to share the Chateaubriand for 2, with roast bone marrow, frites and green beans when he mentionned that he wanted another beef dish on the menu. He was kind enough to let me order it! We had asked for it to be cooked to medium but it came very rare (how French!) but it was very good so I can’t really complain. It came ready carved on a wooden board along with the green beans and the waitress portionned it all out between us. The green beans were so perfectly cooked with a bit of a bite and were soaked in butter and meat juices. We each also got a single mushroom and a beef bone from which to dig out the marrow. Mine had only a little in there…boo hoo. Skinny frites came in individual bowls with even littler bowls of bearnaise sauce alongside. Oh…it’s been a while since I had a good steak and this really hit the spot!
Blai had the pear and almond tart, vanilla ice cream while I chose the apple beignet, vanilla ice cream, 25mL Calvados. Blai had the better dessert – his tart was more of a pear and almond pastry tart but it was good! Mine was a relatively small slice of apple in batter and deep fried, topped with ice cream. My Calvados came a little bit after my dessert and provided a bit of a digestif for the both of us!
The damage came to a reasonable £35 per head but that doesn’t include wine because we aren’t big drinkers… and we had work the following day. Not exactly a budget restaurant but worth every penny. We’ll definitely be returning to Le Vacherin when we need another date night!
76-77 South Parade