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161 Lordship Lane
Try to nab a table in the front section of this pretty salon de thé to appreciate its charm. With glass chandeliers, antique mirrors & a distressed dresser stacked with glass tea jars, Le
Chandelier is the epitome of Gallic girlishness. Out back, the café opens in to a tiled room, full of mismatched furniture, with a confused, vaguely Moroccan feel. Although there’s a menu of
breakfasts & French bistro food (pâtés, salads, duck à l’orange), & the odd north African dish, this venue is really all about the 30-plus varieties of tea, to be sipped while eating fancy
patisserie. Choose loose-leaf organic lapsang, Yellow Gold oolong or one of the gorgeous flowering varieties, perhaps with a pear tart or coconut cake. Service can be haphazard & a little
161 Lordship Lane
North Dulwich Station 833m
East Dulwich Station 927m
Dulwich College 1km
Dulwich Picture Gallery 1km
Tues-Sun 9.30am-6pm (Fri-Sat -11pm Sun 11am- )
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 2
I wanted to like Le Chandelier more; it looks good on paper and has several trappings of a neighbourhood gem. It's dressed for romance when decorated with tiers of pastries during afternoon tea, or under cover of darkness when plentiful chandeliers twinkle. (On which note, see you something you like? Then you can purchase said fitting, thanks to the ‘Atelier' service).
Having perfected all things cake-based, Le Chandelier now offers licensed suppers from Thursday to Saturday. We oohed and aahed at the North African menu, genuinely excited by the prospect. In reality: courgette fritters were flavoursome but gluey within, while caciki dip was acerbic and lacked the freshness of its more familiar cousin, tzatziki. Meat dishes revolved around mince in various guises: lamb lachmajou (North African pizza), beef bourek ‘cigars’ and uninspiring meatballs with a bland pepper sauce (for which the genus of meat remains unidentified). Garnishes were old-fashioned (springy lettuce, grated carrot, cherry toms) and hugely over-generous; each small plate came with a main-worthy mountain of leaves, rendering our side order of salad redundant. Most ingredients were both under spiced and under seasoned, with cheese adding the only occasional glimmer of hope.
Despite craft beers being listed on the menu, we polished off the last two Brooklyn beers in the building only to be left with Peroni. An after-dinner espresso was richly aromatic, and hinted at what Le Chandelier does very well indeed: coffee and cake (albeit on the pricey side).
East Dulwichites are all too keen to support indie start ups, but said businesses need to excel in the face of considerable competition. This restaurant looked the part, and staff were pleasant and helpful. (Our waitress elegantly dealt with my attempt to break into a store cupboard having mistaken it for the WC).
But several elements are off kilter; not least the cuisine we encountered and the rather bizarre ambience. The space was pretty empty on a Saturday night, and Leonard Cohen's Democracy - complete with excruciating early ‘90s synth-sax - played twice in less than an hour. (I adore the Godfather of Gloom, but he’s hardly conducive to date night). I doubt the current evening set up will last, but the August unveiling of Lumieres - a cocktail bar in the Moroccan room upstairs - sounds genuinely alluring. We won't return for dinner, but we might for tea and tarts.
The native oysters were as good as they should be but the steak had been steamed and arrived wet, soggy and sad. I had to ask that the chef try again but the second attempt was no better. If a french restaurant can't knock out an entrecote properly then I don't think it's worth a second visit.
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