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|Address:||8 Porchester Gardens, London W2 4DB|
|Tel:||020 3641 5812|
|Price: £50.00||Wine: £22.50||Champagne: £45.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-3.30pm 6.30-10.30pm (Fri-Sat -11pm Sun -10pm)|
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There should probably be a snidey joke about eating in shopping centres somewhere here but Le Cafe Anglais is no food court cop out. Sure, it's occupied the top floor of handsome from the outside Whiteleys for five years now, but if the shopping centre trades on past glories Le Cafe Anglais resolutely doesn't.
If you'd been told that Capice Holdings or Corbin & King had a hand in the place you wouldn't be surprised (they haven't to the best of my knowledge) – it displays several hallmarks of a well designed, well run restaurant by their exacting rulebook. Attentive, individual staff; an eye for detail; simple tastes and flavours and great, great quality ingredients.
The food was simple and excellent. It breaks neither budget nor boundaries but delivers a solid performance for £30-£35 a head. From an expansive brasserie menu I went for plump, juicy if teeny tiny scallops followed by a simply grilled veal escalope. Good as it was to tuck into after a week of more challenging dining, i admit to slight food envy watching my guests tuck into a perfect piece of muscly firm hake, served under a snappy salsa verde atop dense sticky lentils. Competence can be used as an indicator of the ordinary or prosaic, here it was sublime.
The dining room is grand. High windows open up the light flooding over chandeliers and sassy banquettes. Beautiful floral displays set off the crisp white linens and serried tableware. If I had to find fault here it couldn't be with the front of house look or the intelligent wait staff, though I whoever chose such an awful, artless Jackson Pollock for public transport carpet for the space needs their head examining.
Other than that godawful floor covering; if there's a fault, it can only be in the location. It's a shame someone as talented as Head Chef Rowley Leigh was forced to spend his time leaning next to the pass checking his phone and chatting to regulars rather than locked in the kitchen. Maybe the ladies who lunch do so during the week, but you won't find much better cooking at this price level and style within the area and it's a shame that on this Saturday lunch at least, it didn't have a more appreciative audience.