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Comfortable in its bigger, brighter premises, the Balham branch of this very French outfit seems to have lost a little quirkiness. Nevertheless, it’s a reliable place for French staples, from breakfast croissants to after-dinner espressos. Gazette’s frontage opens on to Balham High Road in summer, making it a pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by, continental style. The menu pays homage to Gallic bistro greats – start with snails, foie gras or soupe à l’oignon, move on to moules marinière, salades composées and poulet rôti, with pot au chocolat or cheese to finish. Cooking isn’t perfect but it’s pretty good, and the battered Le Creuset dishes that serve as crockery add to the jollity. The only downside is the service: often slow, workaday and lacking in French panache.
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16 August 2013
We dropped in on last Thursday evening (having passed on Harrison's round the corner as the music was overwhelming), having not eaten at this new location before. Overall – most impressed.
Very French ambience and waiter-staff, who were a bit slow to get started but then produced wine, water and food efficiently.
Nice touch is that a section of the wine list comes also in pichets and 50cl carafes at good prices;
Sparkling water is gassed-up fresh water, at half the price of a normal bottle (of Badoit which I find too salty anyway).
We ordered 2 different steaks, skirt and ribeye; I thought the latter won the cooking and taste test.
They have weekly food and drink specials (but not on a Thursday!).
They're trying hard, with the increasing number of eateries on the street, and deserve to succeed.
10 January 2013
This is a great local restaurant, often lively, and always a nice room to be in even when it's quieter. The food is good French-bistro comfort food. Service can be erratic, depending on who's looking after you, although always friendly and helpful, and everything happens in the end – but if you're trying to be quick then you might need to take control. This is one of three or four restaurants that mean you don't need to leave Balham to enjoy eating out.
23 October 2012
This restaurant had some consistently scathing reviews when it first opened having moved from considerably smaller premises in Ramsden Road. My wife had been in its early days but had said that she would not go back again, such had been her experiences with the food which she described as awful.
Nevertheless, a year or so on, we decided we ought to give it a further go although I went certain that it would be my first and last time.
I was very wrong.
On the basis of our visit tonight, this is now the restaurant it should have been from the start. The food is very good, particularly the steak tartar which I thought was very special, the wine list extensive but at prices to suit all budgets, and the service, which had be singled out for some particular criticism in the past, cannot now be criticised. The predominately, or maybe even totally, French staff are efficient, knowledgeable and very pleasant.
Whilst the restaurant has lost some of its quirkiness with its move, there are still the random pots and pans in which side orders are served, something that I like.
If the mood takes you, try one (or more I suppose) of the range of eaux de vie that are on display by the entrance.
Having resisted going here for a long time I will certainly be going back again.
21 November 2011
I visited Gazette on Sunday 20 November for a light meal. I ended up having the 3 terrine from the starter menu and I have to say that they have to be some of the best terrines I have ever had. The 3 terrine consisted of a cheese, a fois gras and a champignon. The fois gras was delicious and just right, not too rich. The champignon was slightly course but had an amazing taste. It was the first time I had had a cheese terrine, it certainly won't be my last, it was delicious. The bread that they serve is freshly baked and equally as delicious as the terrines.
All the waiting staff appeared to be French, they were all very knowledgeable and couldn't do enough for you.
My only criticism is the other customers, there were a number of families dining when I visited and alot of the children were running wild in the restaurant. Not the restaurants or the staffs fault at all but a little annoying.
I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone, the menu selection is fantastic and the food lived up to the menu completely.
08 August 2011
Having been a customer of Gazette when it was a tiny and tucked away kind of place, I was interested in how the experience would “translate” to bigger premises. The good news is that it has quite successfully (although I do miss the Le Creuset).
I've visited twice recently both early week so the atmosphere's been a little on the quiet side, but it does mean you get good service and a choice of tables (the raised area banquettes seem to be the nicest although a big group would certainly enjoy sitting round one of the refurbished antique stoves).
The menu is varied with a number of “plats du jour”, but my advice is stick to the steak with frites and – if you have the urge to splurge – the Chateaubriand really can't be beaten. My favourite Plateau Gazette has travelled with the move to new premises and is still a great sharing starter with the best French charcuterie, terrines and enough cornichons to keep everyone happy. A new addition, thanks to the increased size, is Le Chariot a Fromages which is an entirely evil selection of delicious French cheeses including some that it's probably not polite to eat on a date!
All in all, the move has been a success and I'm looking forward to going back to Gazette again and again.
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