A true London institution and a destination restaurant, Chez Bruce in Wandsworth.
Potato, chicken and thyme soup with poached egg.
The better half started things off with a starchy, gluey, rich potage, finished with poached egg. Cooked to a T, it was as potato soup should be. The missus approved.
Buckwheat pappardelle with braised hare, bacon and parmesan.
The house made buckwheat pasta, which was expectedly al dente, with a nutty sting and a rather pleasant coarse texture, like sand in cockles. The rest of the dish was the forest of flavours it looked. Woody, familiar, rich and a cracking sauce. This was classic cooking at its best. One could say this recipe was boring, but then again, you can’t fault good cooking. Mastery of conventional food is as important (if not more so) than pioneering modern trends.
Shoulder, loin and hache of venison with spatzle, chestnuts, bacon and red cabbage (£5 extra)
Venison, three ways. Very rich, very sweet. After a hefty starter, this seemed a bit of a meat overload. The shoulder melted like candy floss, the loin was tender yet firm, flavours of onion and sage, and the chopped meatball was so sharp, it was nearing pungent. A good kind of pungent. I think that perhaps it could have done with less spatzle, which to me, tastes like wetted rice crispies, began to disturb the meat textures.
Roast rump of beef with shallot purée, cocotte potatoes and bourguignonne sauce.
The better half was impressed with her textbook roast beef, and so was I. It had the nostalgic effect, hearty, roasty and cooked to a perfect pink. The butter-flavoured fat on the beef was a sign that this was a good breed whose hide was well hung. This was some kind of Devon Angus crossbreed which comes from the Westcountry.
Pineapple cannelloni with lime and ginger syrup, mint granita and coconut.
Wicked. Classic, The ice cream was creamy, velvety and generously alcoholic. A prune on the side was absolutely seeping with brandy flavours, that one can only assume that Bruce had done it to demonstrate that he had allowed plenty of time for osmosis to take place when he soaked the prunes in brandy. I cannot fault this, I loved every bit of this ice cream. This was a bona-fide dessert.