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|Address:||2 Bellevue Road, London SW17 7EG|
|Tel:||020 3544 6048|
|Price: £54.00||Wine: £20.00||Champagne: £49.50|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-2.30pm (Sat-Sun -3pm) Mon-Sun 6.30-10pm (Sun -9.30pm )|
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Our last restaurant experience was nothing short of a calamity at Hix (oh it's just won Time Out's top bars…hmmmm). This one was nothing short of culinary excellence. We have been to Chez Bruce over the years. My first experience must have been at least 10 years ago and more recent to that probably no closer than 5. There now seems to be no doubt in my mind that those tried and tested restaurants that quietly get on with the business of delivering expertly cooked food with attentive service and great ambiance are 99 times out of a 100 more likely to deliver your naturally and deservedly high expectations when you go to a restaurant where you know, even with the great value lunch time offers, are going to cost in excess of £100 for two.
This was my Father's Day treat and a chance for Lisa and I to have some time together after the last few weeks. Chez Bruce has a great lunch time offer of £19.95 for 2 courses or £25.95 for 3 – and it's a well thought through a la carte menu, not a collection of obviously cheap dishes. It was a Monday and yet there were plenty of fish dishes (fresh not frozen!) and that's what we chose as a main course but I am getting ahead of myself.
We ordered a bottle of Portuguese white wine. I am tightfisted at the best of times and have learnt that these wines are on the whole pretty good and undervalued. You can be confident that if the sommelier at Chez Bruce has put a wine on the list its going to be OK. We made a great choice, Planalto Branco Reserva 2008 Duoro – a ‘cheap’ wine compared to the rest of the list at £24, the cheapest Burgundy was £26. The first bottle was corked but not even presented at the table, the sommelier had checked, we were presented with this bottle and was duly tasted (I felt i had to! – it was the perfect temperature, a delicious wine, complex with huge fruit yet dry at the same time.
It was a good start, no, it was a great start, that and being served freshly made (still hot) parmesan biscuits and freshly baked bread. Our starters arrived. Mine was Sliced roast pork belly with tonnato dressing, anchovies, parmesan and crackling. What can I say, it was superbly executed, the presentation and the balance of colour and texture just proved what is stated on the website that the inspiration comes from true legends such as Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson and the Dr Johnson of the culinary world, Larousse. This is not a chef trying to impress a la Saturday Kitchen, this is proper cooking, centuries old techniques perfectly honed to produce awe inspiring food. Lisa had an equally well thought through and perfectly executed dish Cornish crab with leek and cockle vinaigrette, warm potato salad and tartare sauce. What a start…
We both ordered fish. Now given my last experience and that was ordering fish on a Friday, normally a traditionally safe bet, we ordered fish on a Monday. My dish was Fillet of sea bream with shellfish sauce, potato pancakes, shrimps and basil and could not have been fresher if the chef had literally walked in that minute straight from the dock. The sauce was steeped in flavour combining the brown shrimps and mussels, fish stock and cream. It was seriously delicious. Lisa had Roast cod with olive oil mash, grilled courgette and gremolata which was equally as delicious.
I was seriously blown away by this cooking and a little depressed that so many terrible restaurants get rave reviews because of who is in the kitchen and the ability of full witted PRs to sleep walk lazy journalists into writing good reviews for piss poor performances. Even Giles Coren has admitted getting carried away with the moment and giving good reviews where it hasn't been deserved.
On the strength of what we had eaten so far, not having a pudding would have been darned right rude and given the fact that the pudding wine list ran into over 50 wines we just had to, didn't we?! We went for an obvious choice and boy was it divine Hot chocolate pudding with praline parfait washed down with a red pudding wine. Suffice it to say it was similar to fire works at the end of a great party. It was in every way the grand finale and underpinned what was simply one of the best meals we had had in a very long time. Oh and if that wasn't enough they came round with some shortbread which I am surprised wasn't weighed down on account of its lightness.
Chez Bruce is another very good reason to live in South London and another good reason to continue to support restaurants that are worthy of our hard earned money. I am done with making mistakes of going to over reviewed, over stated restaurants and remember the adage that all the glitters isn't gold. Chez Bruce on the other hand is a real treasure.